Monday, July 30, 2007

Clouds of Unlearning

Thanks to My Utmost for His Highest for prompting this...

Biblical theophanies (appearances of God) usually swim in a motif of clouds and darkness. His glory is rarely clear and shining. The clouds are symbolic of our life's trials, disappointments, and hurts. God always brings His presence through those circumstances. Here's what bends my mind, though. It is often said God wants to teach us through our cloudy experiences. Actually, Oswald Chambers says, God wants us to unlearn things. The more that is stripped away from our own grasp or supposed power, the more childlike we become. Just our soul with Jesus. Simple. Other people are just shadows. If we hang so much hope and trust on others, we will continue to be let down and disillusioned, and the clouds come rolling in.

Jesus knew what was in humankind, and He did not commit Himself unto them. Yet He was not cynical or bitter. His was a distrust based on the lack of false judgments. He was so confident in the Father's grace for every person that He despaired of no one. If our trust is placed in human beings, we will all the more frequently need those "unlearning" experiences. But when our trust is placed fully on Jesus, all others become shadows and our soul rests with Jesus within the cloud.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

God believes in us

I love days like today. The sky is overcast but not dark, and a moist cool breeze is blowing through my open window. For another couple hours yet, the world will be mostly silent of human noise. The only sound now is the wind through pine needles and the songs of cardinals, mocking birds, and sparrows. The cats and I are laying sleepily by the open window. Andrew is at band practice, and I'm here letting my muse run rampant.

It occurred to me today that when Jesus sent his disciples out in Matthew 10, it wasn't to tell the same "Good News" that we think of today. Their good news was healing, freedom from evil spirits, and endless love and forgiveness. They were to do what they had seen Jesus do, but they didn't understand the full ramifications. Jesus preached the kingdom of heaven--healing, freedom, love and forgiveness--but he had only demostrated the kingdom on this side of death. The kingdom wouldn't be fully inaugurated until Jesus' resurrection, when the divine switch had taken place. When Jesus, perfect and sinless, took the place of humanity in the cosmic execution chamber, and defeated death. The disciples had no idea what they were preaching; it's clear from the gospels that they didn't get Jesus' predictions about his death and resurrection. Jesus knowingly entrusted them with a message they didn't fully understand!

As I try to wrap my mind around this, I am humbled, because I tend to look down on Christian speakers who don't challenge my intellect, or who get some details wrong, or who botch the delivery. I tend to get caught up valuing head knowledge, rather than trusting the Holy Spirit to enlighten whomever He will through whomever He will. God doesn't require his children to go through 6 months of basic training Bible study, followed by 4 years in seminary, in order to share what He's placed in their heart. The truth is, even the most devoted, intelligent, studied disciple of Jesus will misunderstand, miscommunicate, or be misunderstood, no matter how much they know, how close they are to God, or how eloquently they can speak. I know that it is difficult for me to communicate clearly in spoken words, but I still hope that God would use me to share His message of love. The next time I see someone trying to communicate the good news that the kingdom of heaven--a transformed life, community, and world--is here and available through Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, I will rejoice and pray for the Holy Spirit to convey His truth through them. He's placed His message in all who believe in Him, and He says to the child, to the disabled, to the single mom, to the burned-out dad, to the high school drop out, "I believe in you; go tell others what I have done in you."