"He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything."
Colossians 1:18

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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Nobody Wants a Boring God

As Christians, we serve a very interesting God.  He is interesting for many reasons (not least of which is His unique reality in this universe), but we see this best perhaps when life itself becomes interesting.  In the unforgiving jaws of a boring, predictable, run-of-the-mill life, God is still incredibly interesting - it is simply more difficult to perceive this.  If we desire to glory in our God in His fullness, we must prepare ourselves for the possibility of unsettling, discouraging, painful, even hazardous circumstances.  When we encounter the living God in these conditions, though, we do not walk away disappointed.

We remember how God sent Moses back to his enslaved people in order to begin His certain task of dislodging them from Egypt.  Exodus 4:30-31 recounts how the divine power displayed through Moses's miraculous signs causes the downtrodden Israelites to believe.  This could never be counted boring, but it is expected:  God is powerful.  We believe, with a genuine belief, because we have seen that power.

Something wonderful happens at the end of verse 31, though.  The display of God's power is momentous enough - it kindles belief in the midst of an oppressed people!  However, Moses and Aaron then deliver incredible news:  the One who holds this power is concerned for you, dear brothers and sisters.  Your omnipotent God has seen your travails, and He is not pleased with your present station.  At this, the people prostrate themselves and worship their God.

It is one thing to perceive the excellencies of the Lord; they are worthy of notice, of worship, of appreciation, of pure wonder, all by themselves.  However, we must confess that it is another thing altogether when those very same qualities are directed, incredibly, at us!  We, these sinful, transient, weak, myopic, squabbling trifles, pass under the specific notice of the Divine, of the Perfect!  His mighty hands, which fashioned the cosmos, now extend to give us grace!  When we have not deserved the slimmest iota of life here on earth, He gives a lifetime, and He fulfills His powerful and heartening covenants for His children.  Believe, by all means, dear friend, but do not forget to worship as well.

One further point on the Exodus narrative - Moses applies to Pharaoh for the release of his people, and is summarily turned down.  Furthermore, the workload of the Israelites is augmented to an impossibly grueling pace.  In this moment, as despondency readies itself, the Lord says simply, "Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for under compulsion he will let them go, and under compulsion he will drive them out of his land.” (Ex. 6:1b) 

In other words, the stage is now set for the Lord to begin His work.  Indeed, He might have worked such that Pharaoh was induced to free the Israelites before this point, but this would not been nearly so interesting, so telling of God's character, as what He actually does.  The increase in difficulty for the Israelites, as God reckoned in His perfect wisdom, was not wasted, because it allowed Him to reveal Himself far more strongly to His people.

This pattern can be harrowing, and it is certainly familiar to us in its essentials, but it is far from boring; amen?  Life is rarely easy.  How easy it is for me to imagine that the remedy to my present dilemma, whatever that dilemma is, can come only in one form.  I quietly, and often unwittingly, conclude that there is only one recourse that will extricate me.  Any other course of events tends to whisper that God has answered my prayers in the negative, but this ignores the manifold complexities of the world, of God Himself, and of His perfect plans.  We all know that God delivered the Israelites, and He delivers us as well, even when it is death itself that brushes our difficulties away, like a shroud from our faces.

Life is certainly interesting when we follow an interesting God - it becomes something not to be feared, but anticipated, as our indestructible God reveals His perfect plans and perfect character. 


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