Friday, September 14, 2007

Still So Much to Learn

Just when I think I understand the methods by which God orders his actions, he amazes me yet again. Perhaps that's why even with all the laws and order he put into science and nature, there are still exceptions to be found to the "rules" from time to time. He doesn't need to be "figured out," nor does he want to be. If so, we might believe ourselves to be his equal (see Gen 3). The constant surprise of who he is and what he does keeps us humble before him. Not for his own ego's sake, but for the glory of his "otherness".

Over the last 10 years or so, I've believed with assuredness that God is somewhat democratic in his behavior. Not that he necessarily gives us a majority rule vote, but that he acts for the general good of more than the few. For example, Jesus' sacrifice (one person) offers the opportunity for atonement for the greater good (many). Wednesday night wiped out that theory. We were studying Gen. 21, and I saw for the first time, I guess, God's activity for the sake of the individual over and above the greater good of many--in fact, his own chosen people.

When Hagar and Ishmael were banished from Abraham's presence, God, knowing the enmity that was to exist for millennia between their descendants and Isaac's, might have easily allowed them to die of thirst, heat, starvation or exhaustion in the wilderness. But he didn't. With new eyes, I saw as God acted on behalf of the individual, in spite of the suffering, adversity and destruction that his own chosen people will experience as a result of the survival of Ishmael.

GE 21:15-19 When the water in the skin was used up, she [Hagar] left the boy [Ishmael] under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down opposite him ... for she said, “Do not let me see the boy die,” ... and lifted up her voice and wept. God heard the lad crying; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter with you, Hagar? Do not fear, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him by the hand, for I will make a great nation of him.” Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water; and she went and filled the skin with water and gave the lad a drink.

God provided for their very survival. Did it grieve him to do so? Did he do it with joy? I can't begin to understand his heart on the matter, but the fact is, he saved them. Never mind the human suffering of his own ordained children for generations to come. His created human beings in need and in grief at that moment captured his undivided and unbiased attention.

Here's what blows my mind: He loves me that much, too. Because I am his, when I cry out in need or sorrow, I have his undivided attention. So many times I haven't felt that way. I've thought he had more important matters to attend to first. Not that he didn't care or didn't want to act, just that I wasn't a priority at the moment. I don't think I usually expect him to act immediately when I cry out - as though he is at my beck and call. I think I've just believed that he'd eventually get around to me. Perhaps all this time, he's actually been acting in ways that I can't see, in people and in places that are right now foreign to me, but will one day converge to bring about the answers I'm seeking. Regardless, he's heard me. With an attentive and compassionate heart, he's heard. And whether it's best for everyone in the world or for me alone, he will act.

I've still got so much to learn.


Ruth Price said...

I think my first comment got lost. If I'm saying this twice, oh well. I just wanted you to know how refreshing it is to see such wisdom coming from a young adult. I feel God has truly blessed our family at FBC by sending you and Darin to us. I pray we will also be a blessing to you. I pray for the vision God is going to give us at FBC and the part we will have in that vision. May God grant you the desires of your heart.
Love, Ruth Price

Julie M said...

I have to agree with Ruth on this!!! You have blessed my life more than you know!!!