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Posts Tagged ‘reflection’

Because a good Bible study (and the time spent writing it up for a friend) shouldn’t go to waste:

Passage: Genesis 18:16-33 (you should re-read it!)

Why did God feel the need to tell Abraham about what would happen to Sodom and Gomorrah?  I believe there’s a sense in which Abraham’s chosenness has now affected the way that God will act toward him.  In order to be the God that Abraham and his descendants will worship, God wants to prove that he is just and righteous in his dealings with humanity, that his character is good.

This relationship between God and Abraham (and implicitly Abraham’s descendants) is not a static one in which God would demand mindless obedience.  Rather, it is one in which God’s people will have a voice in the way God will ultimately work in the world (think also of Moses’ and Joshua’s intercession for their people when God’s wrath was against them).

Isn’t it amazing that God doesn’t just presuppose that humans do not know that justice and righteousness is?  Even if our concept of justice is not to the standard of God’s justice, we are not given the excuse to simply shrug away our moral beliefs as being ultimately flawed.  We do not know as well as God (that is a given), but we should still be in the process of working out what justice means in relation to what God says, to God’s character, to the sense of “oughtness” that we all have.

Wrestling with God just seems like a risky thing to do at times.  And it is!  We open ourselves to being vulnerable or wounded.  Abraham’s insistence that God will be just and not kill the righteous with the unrighteous did cause him some hesitation and uncertainty.  And yet it was effective (and this is the kind of risk-taking that I would encourage).  He was honest with God with his intercession.  Though the prayer did not ultimately change the outcome of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham would undoubtedly be changed by his experience and relationship with God.  God heard him and responded positively to him.

Why stop at ten?  I suggested that when we say that Abraham should have gone down to one (any number smaller than ten), we are looking at it from an individualistic society.  While that’s not completely wrong, they would have understood faith in a communal context.  Ten is large enough to be considered a community of believers, and an effective presence in the city.  In the Jewish tradition, they have the minyan, the presence of the minimum of ten to be considered an official gathering.  Perhaps this concept is loosely correlated?  But perhaps the number isn’t the main issue here at all, and the point is simply that God has heard Abraham and has responded.

What would have happened if God did not include Abraham in this dialogue?  How would Abraham have reacted to the news of Sodom and Gomorrah being destroyed knowing that his nephew is there as well?  As strange as it sounds, God’s reputation was on the line.  If ever an attack against God’s character was thrown at Abraham, he now can say that God is indeed righteous. God did not just destroy the cities because of whim or cruelty or malice, but because the cities were indeed so wicked that not even ten righteous could be found.

How does this story affect your perception of how you should pray? How have your past experiences with prayer changed?  What works for you now?

As for me and my own wrestling with God, I’ve found that no matter how angry or hurt or upset I am with God, it is good to know that he is big enough to carry all the weight of my accusations and pain.  That he listens and that he does not strike us down for our audacity and wayward behavior is a testament to the amount of intimacy that he will allow.  Without the direct confrontations I’ve had with God, my relationship with him would not be as straightforward and heartfelt.  After all, we serve a God who wants our honesty, who wishes us to speak to him about where we are and what we desire, and who is able to respond to us when we come to him with that honesty.  I think that’s worth a lot.  🙂

Anyway, I hope you have found this to be a good source of reflection and encouragement.  Peace.

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My life is as one constant stream of consciousness. Days go by, blurring one to another. The world shifts around me, changes come quickly and then not at all. Some changes I like, and some I observe passively, at times wondering at my own strength to move anything. But one common denominator remains: God is still God, and I am still aware of his presence.

I don’t know what will happen, where I’ll go, who I’ll become. I cannot see into the depths of that mystery. And yet I find the silence more moving and profound than movement itself. Because in silence, I know that God is working. In silence, my heart is still and I feel his presence even more acutely. In silence, I acknowledge my limitations. And in silence, I place my hope in God’s mighty power.

Yes, I will be so audacious as to call upon the name of the Lord. Yes, I believe that God sees into the very minutia in my life. The wait is at once excruciating and joyful, and yet I would not trade it for a heart that neither sees nor perceives that God’s timing is infinitely greater than our own.

May it never be otherwise.

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There are some aspects of life are that are just beautiful and profound by the value that we give it. That we have the capacity to enjoy different aspects of life despite the difficulties we go through is a reflection of the blessings given by our Creator. The depth and breadth of the human experience, of human emotion, surely is captured only in part by poetry, by art, by any creative faculty of ours. So I will tell of a few things that give me much pleasure in life, and hopefully, it will make you recall the things which you love:

::solitude::
This is not to be confused with loneliness. I find that the times I am alone, I am most acutely aware of God and of who I am in him. Finding my identity in him is certainly a source of joy, and I would recommend it to you if you have not ever experienced this. 🙂

::study::
This must be the nerd in me. Once I get into my “zone” I find great pleasure and fulfillment in my work, in my ability to comprehend concepts. The attitude you bring to your work so greatly affects what you get from it, and even the “harder” work is less tedious and tiring when you find some form of love for it.

::friendship::
It would be most unfortunate if we did not have friends to turn to. We all need someone to relate to on some level or another. On a purely platonic level, we still need people to share in our experiences and in our way of thinking. We grow from it. We find our worth and meaning from deep friendships. We learn how to better interact and relate to others. Yes, I do love to talk and get to know people. On a romantic level, it extends to being with someone who gets you, someone who knows you and values who you are, someone who you can share yourself with on a deeper level. To know and to be known….

::dogs::
Yes, I’m sure some of you knew this one would be there. How could it not? They bring a joy to my heart that rivals the purity of my friendship with almost any person outside of my close circle of friends. Why this is, I’m not certain. I’m sure it has something to do with their happy manners and the straight-forward nature of their interaction with me. Uncomplicated can be a very good thing at times.

::hot soaks::
You probably know that I’ve been pretty stressed out lately and staying up later than I normally would. Well, this is a way for me to unwind and reflect on things. It is good meditation time for me, that’s for sure. Step back from it all, and your worries become less imminent and important. Step back from it all, and God speaks in a new way… For that time of the day, I don’t have to do anything, and I’m grateful for that.

::scripture::
I’m going to admit that scripture is not always pleasurable. It takes discipline to read it sometimes, especially when I’ve already read particular passages many times. We don’t always feel like reading or hearing from God. In those times, I would encourage you to do it anyway. Read a portion you don’t often go to. Look at what someone else has to say about it. Write about how it speaks into your life. There are a multitude of ways you can interact with the text… I’ve come to it with an attitude of reverence and openness, and I’ve been surprised at how much I actually gain from it. And that is always a source of joy.

I would hope this feeling is a universal thing, but you know me. I’m not one to be quick to jump to conclusions. 😉

“What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.” Ecc. 3:9-13.

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