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Posts Tagged ‘faith’
“I will sing of the steadfast love of the lord for ever.
With my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.” Psalm 89:1
As I begin the daily, even hourly plod toward shoulder health after this fifth shoulder surgery, I am trying out a dictation app that magically transforms spoken words into written ones. To familiarize myself with the app, I decided to read certain Psalms aloud. (This practice comes with the lovely side effect of soul-calm). I confess that when I began this process, I initially turned to Psalm 88, because it felt like the unyielding and somewhat angry content best suited my heart’s mood. However, when I opened my Bible, the Spirit steered me toward Psalm 89, a lament admitting slightly more hope than the Psalmist of 88 is ready to acknowledge.
Now for the really cool part…
This morning, as I read the first couple of verses of Psalm 89, I began to realize the sweet irony of the words my lips were forming:
“With my MOUTH I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.”
With the ongoing struggles, I’ve been fearful about the functional loss of shoulder, arm, hand and fingers to write out of my innards this fire within my bones. And now, partly through 21st century cyberscience, and completely because of the Lord’s unfailing faithfulness, the antidote to my fear has appeared onscreen.
The Word breaks down my poison-fear with its fundamental deconstructing truth: capacity to type words may diminish, and next week my voice could falter, but as Jesus once said, nothing can silence the insistent cosmological cry of praise (Luke 19:40). His love is unshakeable, his redemption irreversible, and his faithfulness immovable. Nothing new here – what the labor of my hands has never been able to accomplish, the zeal of the Lord has already done and continues to do until the day of Christ’s return (Isaiah 9:6). Shout it with me now,
“With my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.”
What about you? Do you struggle with fears of limitation or inability to carry out your calling? How do you hear God’s faithfulness shouting (or whispering) from – words or The Word; a rock or a rock-climber; trial or triumph?
(This post was composed over several hours time using the free app for old Ipad, Dagon Dictate, and lots of one-handed typing:-)
I’m preparing to teach a story intensive in Arkansas. One of the hard questions we will consider is what it means to live a life of faith. Here’s an excerpt from my story guide.
Scripture recounts stories of the founders of faith floundering in faithlessness as they try to wreak some control in the havoc God seems to be making of their lives. Take Abram and Sarai for example. How many times did the faithful father of all nations cover his fanny by telling a king Sarai was his sister? What about the famous fertility incident, in which Sarah schemed to bring the promised child through her maidservant? The good news of God’s story of grace is that he does not allow us to remain long in our narrow narratives.
Let’s quickly review the story of grace as we discussed it in Chapter Three to see how our faith founders. God creates the cosmos, including us, in His image, with dignity and for delight, with differentiation and for dominion. In this beginning chapter of redemptive history, humans lives in a state of shalom, in which our worlds not only work but flourish – intimate relationship, productive work, and fruitful mission – all of the things we were made for – rule the day.
In the next chapter, Adam and Eve, succumbing to Satan’s suggestion, decide they know better than God what they need for life and beauty. They consciously rebel against God’s command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Taking and eating, they immediately gain greater knowledge: they see that they are naked and they feel shame. In the ensuing moments, the Edenic world crashes around them and they turn to hiding, blaming, and shaming to try to restore the equilibrium lost.
In the Author’s kindness and wisdom, Scripture does not wait for the gospels to announce the good news. God intervenes immediately, searching for his lost couple in the garden, asking an astounding question, “Where are you?” The all-knowing God of the universe knows where his children are, but it is the nature of God to pursue us in our feeble attempts to flee His exposing gaze. God brings us out of hiding not to scold us but for the gracious purpose of inviting us back into relationship.
Even as God explains the curses on creation and humanity that follow as consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin, He announces the plan for redemption, telling a story of a coming chapter when Eve’s offspring will crush Satan. Immediately, God begins the process of restoring brokenness for His beloved children. In a preview of the story of the ultimate covering blood to be spilled, God kills animals to provide sufficient protective garments for Adam and Eve. In a further act of protection, he expels his children from the garden, lest they eat of the tree of life and live forever in the drastic state of the Fall.
Our Fall of Faith
What does this story have to do with our struggle with faith? Everything. We bear the branding of our foremother and forefather. Like Adam and Eve, we are not always content with shalom, with a world working in harmony and flourishing in fruitfulness. We can be tempted to believe that God is holding out on us, that somewhere someone is enjoying juicier mangoes than the ones we purchased at Walmart. (They probably are.) We grasp after false promises of greater shalom both when our world is working and when it isn’t.
When Adam and Eve’s world comes crashing down, they once again grasp for ways to save themselves from further humiliation, shame, and loneliness. When our worlds are wrecked, whether through our own doing or through external forces, we often turn to other gods that promise to restore shalom, if even temporarily. We try more: shopping, eating, yelling, or going to church. We try less: numbing, withdrawing, retreating, or hiding. Whichever route we take away from a life of faith: flight or fight, our faithful God pursues us and invites us to redemption.