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.
"In the beginning....". For most of us these words are loaded with meaning. They are loaded, because we think we know what comes next. We've developed a narrative around these words that is packed with explanations, theories, thoughts, and beliefs.
Think back to a time of "beginning" in your life. Maybe it was starting at a new school or starting a new job. Perhaps it was getting married or having your first child. You may think of beginning life in a new city or becoming part of a new church community. We go through many beginnings. There is an excitement and freshness to new things. There is also some wonder and uncertainty. God seems to love newness. In Scripture, the words "In the beginning..." are followed by "God created." The first thing we learn about the nature of God is that he is "creative."
If you are up on the current lingo, this is now a whole class of people in the work place and in our culture. The "creatives" are shifting and changing how companies approach business and how they are connecting with people. The funny thing is, we were designed by God from the beginning to be creatives. Genesis tells us that "God created mankind in his own image..." (1:27). This simply means we were created as an earthly reflection of the character of God. We often get so hung up on what God created, and when, and how, that we forget the whole purpose as to why. I often wear a shirt that has the phrase, "Live to create, not simply to consume." We are being consumed by consumption. I think we are asking the wrong questions. The real question to ask is, "how are we bearing the image of God in our world?" What are we creating? What are we making new? What are we breathing life into?
May we be known as true image-bearers. May we be the bringers of new life into a broken and hurting world, realizing that our brokenness is only made new by the one who brings us life. May we remember the words in Lamentations 3:22-34 that say:
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him."
Each week we pass the collection tray in church. We also have many opportunities to be generous throughout the whole week. But what do we truly have to offer back to the Creator of all? The idea of giving something to God is just, almost perverse. Does not everything in the universe come from God? Does not everything in life hold together in God’s sustaining creation? How can we return something to the Source from which it all comes? Can we give water to the well that supplies us with all the water we have? How often do we even stingily give up control of our tithes? God, help us!