God is great, and he is good.
He created all things in the span of six days, and the Scripture describes the origin of all the stars in all the galaxies in all the galaxy clusters in all the universe with just three words (two in Hebrew): “and the stars” (Gen 1.16). And the speed with which he made it all implies no hurry or lack of attention to detail; he made the earth perfect as a residence—a sanctuary—for us humans, with all of our needs—oxygen, water, food, light, heat—freely and abundantly provided (Gen 1.29).
He made us in his image (Gen 1.27) and sought out our companionship in the cool of the day (Gen 3.8). And despite our faithlessness to him and our rejection of his commands (Gen 3), he set out on a long plan to woo us back to himself, as the one whom his soul loves.
Why so long?
For at least a couple of reasons, I think.
First, because his long, unflagging pursuit of us assures us of his love. He’s serious about this. He’s not going away. This is true love of the purest and most devoted kind.
And second, because he gives us time. We are stubborn—he knows that (Ps 103.14)—and we need to be shown that we will not be satisfied with anything or anyone but him. So he lengthens our leash, and he lets us sniff all the sidewalks to our heart’s content. He patiently endures the jealousy his own heart feels toward us, watching us seek satiation in everything else there is. He lets us exhaust ourselves in our foolishness. He’s a patient lover.
And when we’ve come to the end of our orgy, to the end of ourselves, wrecked and ruined and unattractive and repulsive (Ezek 16), then he draws us to himself, graciously, tenderly, and whispers to us of love. And we ought to believe him. His patience tells us of his love; his revelation of himself tells us (Rom 2.4); and most especially, his giving of himself in brutalizing, deadly sacrifice—for our filthiness, not his—tells us beyond any doubt (Rom 5.8).
But even as believers—forgiven, welcomed, indwelt, gifted, guided, protected, loved—we find ourselves faithless. We doubt his promises—or worse, forget them—and fear the place he’s called us to serve. Like toddlers in the checkout line, we find ourselves distracted by bright colors and sugary treats, and we seek our fulfillment in light and worthless things. We go through the motions of marriage to him, but our heart is elsewhere. We’re glad for his grace—don’t you feel bad for all those (other) people going to hell?—but we pursue our own joys and our own ends. We’ve hired other people, you see, to serve him “full-time,” to take the gospel to the ends of the earth as he has commanded us.
And we fear. Oh, do we fear. Will I lose my health? Will the wrong guy get elected? Will the market crash? Will laws be broken?
What if it does? What if they are? Is our God asleep? Is he in the men’s room (1Ki 18.27)? After millennia of pursuing us, is he going to abandon us now?
This isn’t the first time the kings of the earth have raged against God’s anointed (Ps 2). It isn’t abnormal that God’s people are not the powerful of the earth (1Co 1). His plan for us, apparently, is very different from our plan for ourselves. Once again.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears (Ps 34.4).
PSA: I’ve seen all those memes. You know, those fearful and snide and unoriginal and hostile and divisive ones about Colin Kaepernick and Cory Booker and Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein and whatever else. So you can stop posting them now, OK? Maybe you could post about–oh, I don’t know–the things I’ve mentioned above. Thanks.
Photo by David Marcu on Unsplash
Henry Shirah says
God is indeed good—-always. The Bible is full of stories where men and women and entire populations felt abandoned. I know I have. I wonder about folks who claim they have never doubted or endured a level of loss that they wanted to die. I feel sorry for those because they have not experienced that last gasp of faith and deliverance. The joy comes in the morning thing.