Do you any of you have any pet peeves? It's funny what bothers some people and not others, and vice versa. One of my huge pet peeves is cliche quotes, such as the one that's the title of this article. There are some real annoying doozies out there. Here's a few, "Don't worry, today is a new day!" Well, duh, I know that, thanks for the great insight. How about, "You know, the grass is always greener..." Yep, sometimes it is!
This one in the title I've heard quite a bit lately for some reason. Maybe it's with the political climate and all that jazz, but as Christians, this phrase should really bug us. What's sad, is that it's actually used most by US! It comes from Ecclesiastes 1:9 that says, "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."
Ecclesiastes is part of the "wisdom" literature, a series of 3 books; Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job. People have struggled with these writings for centuries and of course often, as the critic in Ecclesiastes says, it's all "meaningless." A word that's not translated well, but doesn't mean life is without meaning, it means that life's meaning is always a mystery. It goes back to trust, as I wrote about in my last article. The way we use the phrase, "There's nothing new under the sun", is in the same critical way that the critic in Ecclesiastes is approaching His view of life.
The message of Ecclesiastes is truly one of hope. It's message is that you have to "let go", otherwise you will drive yourself crazy with the unpredictability of life's ups and downs. If we truly believe in a God that brings about new life, and creates from nothing, then we must believe that that Spirit living in us brings about fresh ideas, and dreams new ways to approach life and its daily challenges. May we not buy into the cynical, and approach life with cliches. May we draw on the creator in each of us to look at life with fresh, hopeful eyes. May we continue to bring God's kingdom into full existence.
That title is filled with some questions. My first thought is, "Isn't certainty a good thing?" When I was younger, I think I had a whole lot more certainty about things, especially in my teenage years. As I've gotten older, I have become much more comfortable with mystery.
It seems that there is a thread throughout scripture that lends itself to the idea of trust in uncertainty. God is constantly reminding us about the need for trust. The struggle of humanity has always been the desire to go our own way. We tend to put our trust in tangible things such as jobs, money, relationships, and governments. All the while suffocating on stress, need for acceptance, and worry. We know that God says our needs will be taken care of well behind the "birds of the air" and the like (Matthew 6:26). The real issue is, we want more than our needs. We want more. We want comfortable and well beyond. We want certainty to the point that it becomes and idol. Certainty becomes the thing that we strive for and we seem to not care about the means in which we get there. For us, the sovereignty of God is always in question. The interesting, yet sad thing is, the sovereignty of God has been in question from the beginning. Great men and women throughout history have questioned God and his ways and purpose.
May we be a people that trust, more fully, each day. May we be ok with uncertainty. As Romans 15:13 says, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
I recently started reading an incredible book by Richard Rohr called "The Divine Dance." I highly recommend pretty much anything that Richard creates, whether it's a book, blog post, or video. The book is essentially about the "Trinity", a human construct of how to describe God in perfect relationship. Most attempts at describing the mystery that is God fall woefully short. In the book, Richard begins to lay out different thoughts and ideas that have been proposed and discussed over centuries, and maybe a fresh and new, yet old, way to "see" God. I say fresh and new, yet old, because he takes us back to the beginning. Ultimately, before the beginning, to original perfection and the relationship that is God.
We often think of ourselves, and rightly so, as those that are broken in a broken world. This is certainly true, and we live in this reality together as people that share in our brokenness, and rely on the redemptive and healing power of God. Yet, God's original design was that all creation was invited into this "dance" of relationship.
Rohr writes, "This divine intention---this audacious invitation---is embedded in creation itself; it later becomes concrete, personal, and touchable in Jesus. In other words, divine inclusion, what we rightly name salvation, was Plan A and not Plan B!" He goes on to say, "Our starting place was always original goodness, not original sin. This makes our ending place---and everything in between--- possessing an inherent capacity for goodness, truth, and beauty."
May we see that the capacity for goodness is designed into us. May we choose to join back into the dance that we were invited into from the beginning.
The most difficult problem in your life can cause you to go around in circles. The impediment for which you have no glib answer, the struggle that knocks down on your knees, breaks your heart and silences all of your bright insights, this hurdle will take you to the place of despair or to a place of stillness where you will bow down and worship God. And this place of humility is the doorway to God and peace.
The grandson of Abraham, Jacob, after lying repeatedly to his own father, Isaac, and stealing the blessing from his twin brother, Esau, was on the run. And now all alone with a stone as a pillow, Jacob encountered God’s love and promises. Would God not have been wiser to throw down some fire and brimstone on this deceiver? Would rejection and hardship not assist in his conversion and finding the straight and narrow pathway faster? But God instead choose to give Jacob the, “I will be with you to the end,” promise. And surely in surprise Jacob jumped up and exclaims,
“Surely the Lord is here in this place and I did not know it! This is the house of God and the
gateway to heaven.”
Have you discovered the gateway to peace right past the mirror of personal brokenness? After discovering one’s own reprobate state and only after this discovery can one truly accept the amazing gift of grace, for as long as we think we are almost getting our own act together we do not know the depth of our need for undeserved, freely given grace. There is no peace until we see that we bring nothing to the table of salvation except our empty, open hands for God to fill. And only then can we walk in pure thanksgiving, joy, and peace.