Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Listening hard

I am listening.

Earlier, I sat at the kitchen table, a bowl of lentil soup cupped in my laced fingers, head bowed, eyes shut.  The wind roared outside, and the furnace hummed in the basement beneath me, while the tea kettle worked on hissing up to a whistle, and the filter in the turtle tank gurgled a strange sounding tropical trickle over the top.

Listening.  Because I want to hear God's voice.  I long for an answer, an affirmation, a yes.

He answers so many prayers with such beauty and grace.  It takes my breath away sometimes to look back and see what He has done, how He has responded, even in silly specifics that He had no reason to attend to, except that He must love me.

He does that sometimes, you know.  You want the mountain moved, the solution to world hunger and child abuse and war.  He remembers that you've been wanting an outrageous flowered chair for your sunporch, and He gives you one of those (a perfect one, maybe even for free), instead.

I have a friend who was going through tremendous stress and upheaval.  The mountains of her life were quaking and falling into the sea.  She was praying for a number of big things, and the solutions were not forthcoming.  But then she walked through the house that she would be moving into, and there in the family room was a fireplace.  She'd had no idea there was going to be a fireplace.  She'd always wanted a fireplace and never asked for one, because there were other things she was asking for, huge things, healings and restorations.  What did God give her?  A fireplace.

Does He do that routinely?  Does He grace you with the little details, secret presents that tell you that He knows you, cares about you, wants you to be reassured during your waiting for the big things?

I think He does this because He is full of grace.  He remembers that we are dust, that we have limited understanding and very little patience.  So, when He is asking us to wait, He sometimes gives us other things, tokens of His affection, to remind us that He is near, He knows our hearts.

If ever I am tempted to doubt the goodness of the Lord, I now know to look back to the cross.

God hates sin.  He hates sin because it disfigures His creation.  The pinnacle of His creation was humanity, so God particularly hates the way sin harms mankind.  Sin will be done away with.  God will put an end to it.  This is justice.  Those who have been hurt by sin will never be hurt again.  God will heal and restore us.  Those who cling to sin will be destroyed along with it, but God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.

God has done everything to enable us to be freed from sin.  Sin demanded an impossible price.  God paid that price in the excruciating death of His only begotten Son, His own essence clothed in human flesh, who died in His own perfection, crushed under the cumulative sins of all humanity, to cancel the debt for all of us who were caught in the clutches of sin.  While we were sinners, Christ died for us.  We were dead in our sins, enemies of God, hopeless and helpless to escape our trajectory towards death and destruction.  For a good man, someone might possibly be moved to give up his life, but while we were sinners, enemies, lost in rebellion, Christ died for us.

He did for us what we could never have done for ourselves; He paid the astonishingly great price to gain our salvation.  This is mercy.  Adding mercy to mercy, He holds out the offer again and again, calling people to come to Him, waiting, loving, wooing.

He is good.  He is good.  He is unfathomably good.  He did not withhold His only Son; He will give us everything we need.

The March wind blows.

I listen and I wait and I hope.

For no matter how many promises God has made, 
they are “Yes” in Christ. 
And so through him the “Amen” is spoken 
by us to the glory of God.
2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV)

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