I used to say that when I get to heaven (by an abundance of grace) one day, I will have a lot of questions for God. I need to understand Romans 9, and the book of Judges, and slavery in Scripture, and, and, and ... I have a list. In reality, I will have no questions, I will only have awe. The result of genuine revelation is always repentance.
The redemptive arc of the Bible is long, and it bends towards the King, who came from the line of Ruth and Boaz, a line that endured the horror show of the end of Judges.
I have tried so many things in life to try and secure what looks like blessing and none of it has worked. Eventually I had to get to the point where I let a gracious God wrestle me into the dirt, reminding me there of His strength and my weakness, and yet it is there, in the dirt, when I didn't let go, that I finally got grace, and its associated limp.
God is our refuge and our strength. He is the one we can run to in order to find shelter and he is the one who fights for his people to keep our attackers at bay. God is a very present help. What a thought! He is very present, right here, available and loving.
I have always been fascinated by the idea of spiritual gifts, the idea that God would breathe His Spirit into ordinary people in order to empower them to do extraordinary things for the communities of faith in which He has placed them. Unfortunately, we have set church up in such a way that we don't get to see much of this body of gifting at work, and we must do all we can post this season apart to get back to the body doing the work of the body rather than just large groups gathering to watch a few muscles work out on a weekly basis.
Chaos on the sea was widely understood in the Jewish world as a sign of God's judgment or God's absence. We see it in the creation account, in the flood and in a lot of other imagery throughout the Old Testament. But, then Jesus rebukes the wind. He speaks to the sea. And it listens! If a raging sea was a sign of God's judgment, then Jesus was presenting Himself as one who had the authority of that judgment! If the sinking boat was seen a sign of God's absence, then Jesus was announcing His presence in way they could never forget!
Hezekiah took a threat, which was significantly more imminent, disastrous and real than anything I have experienced or am currently going through, and he spread it out before the Lord. That is a marvelous image of prayer, to spread it out before God as a sign of weakness and dependence and ask God to take care of it. We can fold it up tight and carry it around in our pockets and let it weigh us down and ultimately decay our peace, or we can spread it out, fold it flat, show it to God, and ask Him to help.
Job wasn't ready. You know when God starts a conversation by telling you to dress like a man that it is going to be good. God essentially says to Job, alright mate, put your big boy pants on, and pay attention. And then the questions begin, and they are God's questions exposing Job's limitations when compared to God's lack of those very same limitations.
When I re-read the story of Samson today, it was no less tragic but I could see some of the strands of grace. A man with low impulse control, who is remarkably gifted by God's Spirit but who cannot control his ego, his temper or his sex drive ends up being weakened and humiliated, and the only glimpse of redemption comes in the form of self-destructive revenge, and yet, God uses Him in the ongoing advance of His Kingdom, and gifts him grace and power, in spite of himself. That's just like God, to love and empower and work through really flawed people.