Archive for October, 2010

Oct 28 2010

God Is Good: Part 2 (or Mosaics Aren’t Simple)

Published by under God

I’m writing some posts this week on God’s goodness. This is Part 2.

PAST POSTS IN THIS SERIES
Part 1

“Go to the ant…consider its ways and be wise!” (Proverbs 6:6)

I’ve never really grown up. From the time I was little, I played with ants. Granted, I used to destroy them, but I considered it playing. These days, when I go running, I always finish with 15 minutes of stretching. The older I get, the more my body wants to be broken. So I slap the crap out of creakiness with some serious stretch action. In warm months, I always see ants as I stretch. Most of the time, I imagine what it would be like if _I_ was an ant. I’ll blow on the ant and watch it tumble along the ground. I think, “I wonder what the ant community called that hurricane I just made.” Because, to an ant, humans are huge. What does an ant think when I stomp right next to it when I’m running? Does the ground shake beneath him?

TO THE HORIZON (AND NOT BEYOND)
At six feet tall, on perfectly flat ground, humans can see a distance to the horizon of 3.1 miles. For a 6 footer, the eyes are 5’6″ above the ground (SquareRoot(5.5 / 0.5736) = 3.1 miles). If they had human vision, an ant, at a height of 3/16 of an inch, could see almost 2/10 of a mile (SquareRoot(((3/16)/12)/0.5736) = 0.17 miles).

Ants must be confused when they’re just walking along, doing work, and they’re suddenly crushed by a size 12 Nike or burned to death by a 10-year old’s magnifying glass. Some imagine God like this. He smites people because He’s bigger and He can. The only reason we think this – the only reason we question God’s goodness is because our perspective is so small. 3.1 miles? That’s ant-sized. God, who dwells in heaven, can see the horizon of the entire universe. He knows every play, every angle.

IT’S NOT JUST A CLOSED-DOWN DEPARTMENT STORE
John 11 demonstrates. Jesus was friends with a family. In this family were two sisters, Mary and Martha, and a brother, Lazarus. Jesus was teaching two miles from their house when “the sisters sent word to Jesus, ‘Lord, the one you love is sick'” (11:3). Lazarus had fallen ill. The bible says, “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days” (11:6). After some time, and a trip to Judea, Jesus finally decides to go see Lazarus. Know what happened? “On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.” Lazarus was dead. “When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him…’Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘if you had been here, my brother would not have died'” (11:20-21). Mary and Martha were devastated. Their brother was dead. In seeing Mary and Martha and their friends mourning, John says, “[Jesus] was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. ‘Where have you laid him?’ [Jesus] asked. ‘Come and see,’ they replied. Jesus wept.”

Jesus wept.

He wept.

HE KNOWS

Have you ever been crushed in your soul and felt like you were going to die because you felt so low? And, in that time, have you ever whispered to God, “God, do you have any idea how I feel right now?” This moment in Jesus’ life is a time to prove He understands. Jesus wept. Twice, it says, he was “deeply moved.” He gets it, brother. He gets it, sister. He knows.

So Jesus is led to Lazarus’ tomb and he says, “Lazarus, come out!” And Lazarus comes out. Jesus raises him from the dead!! Jesus Christ raised a man, who had been in the tomb for four days, from the dead. Do you know what Jesus said when he was told Lazarus was sick – before Lazarus died? He said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it” (11:4). Jesus knew all along the INCREDIBLE thing that would happen! Did Mary or Martha? No. They just knew their brother was dead. They went through bitter heartche. But they witnessed something very, very, very few people ever get to see! And, because of their suffering, we are encouraged by their story today – right now. A lot of good came from that tragedy! Big X-Games heroes like Shaun White, Tony Hawk, and Travis Pastrana do some cool tricks. But what could a human ever do that would trump RAISING SOMEONE FROM THE DEAD!? God looks AWESOME when that happens! But the tears and heartache came first.

“And we know that IN ALL THINGS God works for the GOOD of those who love him…” (Romans 8:28, emphasis mine)

IT’S ART
Jesus knows what it means to hurt. But He also sees everything. He knows what good will come about from every event in the world – even the terrible, disgusting, tragic things. In Desiring God, John Piper says, “[God] has designed from all eternity, and is infallibly forming with EVERY EVENT, a magnificent mosaic of redemptive history. The contemplation of this mosaic (with both its dark and bright tiles) fills His heart with joy.” Mosaics are beautiful and intricate. But some of the squares are black and gray and brown. They’re ugly. For some seasons in our life we see only the black square. God sees it all. He’s writing a MUCH bigger story than our single life. And our life is more than a season WITHIN our life. We’re but one role. Sometimes, that role is believing in faith that He is good – even when our circumstances are bad. The story of Job is another excellent example.

Jesus wept. There are times we will, too. Our tears and our pain don’t mean God isn’t good. It just means we’re not God. We can only see 3.1 miles. He sees the whole horizon! His designs in this life are HUGE! The tears and heartache come first. His goodness remains constant. Hold firm to Him. He is good.

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Oct 26 2010

God is Good: Part 1

Published by under God

I’m writing some posts this week on God’s goodness. This is Part 1.

The trees in middle Tennessee are quickly losing their hands. Leaves are being pried from limbs with each gust of wind. About as often as it’s windy, I sit in my backyard and listen to the 30ft tall trees clap. It makes me a little sad to see summer gone and fall moving on because I really love these trees. Tonight, it got me thinking about disappointment.

As little kids we get very angry when things don’t go our way – when we can’t have the toy we want or we can’t eat more cookies. When we grow up, the only thing that changes is we get angry about different things – when we can’t have the girl we want or we can’t buy a nicer car. Those are bummer things, I suppose, but some of us have really unusual and unfortunate circumstances come upon us – death, disease, rape, unemployment, weather disasters, hunger, infidelity, no husband/wife when you desire one. It is so easy to get really angry with God when these things happen and doubt Him. Much of that emotion is understandable.

But.

A tree does not stop being a tree when it loses its leaves.

A girl does not stop being a girl when she takes her makeup off.

God does not cease being good when the circumstances in our life become dim.

Leaves and makeup and great circumstances are all adornments. They’re nice, but they’re not the full story. They’re wholly secondary.

The voice inside us that screams, “THIS ISN’T RIGHT” when tragedy strikes is right. We know in our hearts that life wasn’t supposed to be tragic. And it wasn’t. God didn’t make life this way. It ended up like this because of sin. Sin is like the winter that pulls leaves off beautiful trees. It ruins comfortable lives.

And like a little kid is puzzled why leaves fall off trees, I don’t understand completely why God doesn’t stop bad things from happening.

The argument goes that if someone can stop a bad thing from happening but chooses not to do so, then they’re not good. So some people reason God isn’t good because evil happens. But what if that person who doesn’t act is so intelligent that they know something BETTER will happen if they choose not to act and prevent the evil? Would you imagine that person is still bad? No. That would make them good AND brilliant. Remember this: Jesus Christ was murdered on a Cross. Imagine the deep, bitter sorrow of losing your best friend in that way. What good could ever come of that? Only the salvation of the world! There is no crime, no sin, no tragedy beyond God’s redemption. He is good!

GOODBYE AND HELLO
There’s a blanket of dead leaves on my lawn right now – the remnants of nature’s instruments I held dear for 7 months this year. But now I get a better look at what a tree really is. I get to see all the branches – not just the trunk. And the truth is, leafless trees still make noise in the wind. The pitch just changes.

When our lives are stripped of their good circumstances, we get to see God as He really is. When we’re bare and feel empty and alone and hurt, we have nowhere else to go but to Him. And He meets us when we go to Him. We get to see that He not only exists, but that He’ll listen to our cries and, somehow, provide comfort. This is when God increasingly becomes a friend. It’s mysterious and it’s tragic and it’s good. Because HE is good.

Continue to Part 2: Mosaics Aren’t Simple

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Oct 11 2010

The Honest Mistake

Published by under Heart

I heard a story about a guy this weekend.

The story is about a dude who shows up to work on time every day. He works really hard at what he does. He’s constantly trying to improve himself. He’s the kind of guy you want to be on your team.

On this particular day, the guy was working on a project and made a mistake. And it was a costly mistake, potentially costing his company tens of thousands of dollars.

Word got around the office fast. People were calling each other, emailing, talking in the halls. Some people actually left notes for him. “YOU’RE AN F’ING IDIOT!” one said. “You should get a new job, you piece of crap,” another read. Heaps and heaps of abuse came in. People started saying things to his face of this nature. He felt terrible. Truth be told, he felt terrible from the very beginning when his honest mistake was first made. He wanted to hide somewhere. But he couldn’t. He just kept hearing how much people hated him.

This story is about a man named Brooks Conrad. Brooks Conrad is an infielder with the Atlanta Braves who, arguably, cost his team game 3 of the NLDS against the Giants on Sunday night. Brooks Conrad was made in God’s image years before he ever threw a baseball, fielded a ground ball, or dropped a pop fly.

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