Friday, May 20, 2005

Two words for today: "but God..."

Well, if I started off with a dozen or so postings that needed sharing, I've probably tripled it by now...a powerful, powerful couple of days. Yes, I did actually get some sleep - desperately needed, it seems. And yes, I stayed away from Blogger 99% of the time. (A 100% sabbatical will have to wait for my someday-trip to Holden Village, or some other bandwidth-impaired location...)

The world is the same - and yet it is, in some ways, markedly different.

In many ways, nothing is different. My work situation is still completely up in the air, which makes my search for a new living situation a little tenuous (at best). I have two more days of laundry not done, so my room really looks like the inside of a Goodwill clothing drop-off. I have three weeks of work to do next week, and yet I'm going for a treadmill heart-check-up on Monday - which I'll hopefully pass. (But let's face it, folks like me don't go for these kinds of tests because we're on top of our game...) And so on.

In short, there is plenty that could generate genuine and sensible fear; plenty of reasons to doubt whether I can even buy a clue about my future; plenty of reasons that prayers like, "OK, God, WTF?" sound like a good idea...

But listening to Jeremiah Wright preach on Exodus tonight reminded me of how much I can complicate God's simple message. He reminded me that "folks in the black church" (his phrase, not mine) only need to know a couple important phrases to keep their faith strong. And one of these is simply "but God..."

That's as in:

The people of Israel were suffering in Egypt, but God heard their cry.

Moses would have just as soon stayed with his wife in Midian,
but God had another plan.

The Egyptian army was behind them,
but God was before them.

You may be walking through the valley of the shadow of death,
but God is with you.

You may feel alone, unworthy, and abandoned by the world,
but God will not forsake you.

After that, it was pretty simple for me to hear it this way:

You're in some real wilderness time, Steve - struggling in more than one way - but God hasn't dropped you yet.
I may not know where to go, or where to turn - but God does.
I may not see how God can use this mess - but God knows the plan that is before me (Jeremiah 29).
My strength sure seems to have failed - but God's lovingkindness does not fail, and God's strength is sufficient.

So for this coming day, I'm going to try to revel in these thoughts:
It may be late in the game; my scorecard may read "zero" on a number of levels - but God bats last.
I may be a broken tool - but God can still use me for the Kingdom.
I may not think much of my chances for joy, at times - but God knows better than that.

Now, I know, there's a lot of brilliant theologians out here in the blogosphere who will be quick to point out what a spiritual simpleton I might be. And they might well be right. But the AA folks have taught me this truth: it's impossible to save my face and my ass at the same time. I have to admit the fact that I need to keep it real simple, to build up my life and my faith from where they are right now.

Is thinking like this simplistic and unsophisticated? Perhaps.
Is it exactly what I need to hold onto, right now?
Is it simple enough that I can't complicate my way out of it?
You betcha.
Is that a good thing?
You betcha.

5 comments:

Poor Mad Peter said...

Now, I know, there's a lot of brilliant theologians out here in the blogosphere who will be quick to point out what a spiritual simpleton I might be.

Whatever works for you, Steve. That's what counts here.

Dale said...

It may be late in the game; my scorecard may read "zero" on a number of levels - but God bats last.
it's impossible to save my face and my ass at the same time.

Great quotes! I like things simple, especially with God.

That is the problem, people think to much

wilsonian said...

Yes... Dale appreciated the same lines I did. Great quotes!

Jesus managed to boil all theology down to one simple phrase: Love the Lord you God with all you heart, with all your mind and with all your soul. And love your neighbour as yourself.

Guess that puts you into good company :)

Michael said...

This reminds me of the seder song Dayenu!, "That Would Have Been Enough." For fifteen verses, the celebrants sing of the things God did in bringing the people out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, each time ending with the refrain, "That would have been enough!" It would have been enough for us, but it was never, is never enough for God, who is fullness of life, of love, of mercy. To paraphrase, "That would have been enough, but God..."

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I saw this. I don't know anything about anything right now, but God does. Realizing that God is the only sure thing in my life like that is good. I'm glad there's such a thing as a "but God.."
thank you for this, but thank Him more for that.
I don't think it's too simple, God's Word and truth was written so that it could be understood by the mind of a child, other people that make it complicated are reading too much into the simplicity of, God is crazy in love with us, and has done everything for us. Love is basically pretty simple. That's what He is, love.