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Saturday, March 16, 2013


I find myself noticing that truth comes to me in bits and pieces. It usually starts with a tantalizing thought that leads unexpectedly to another, then another. If I'm attentive, I can follow these thoughts, one to another, until I'm on a trail to something.

I don't think I've arrived at the destination that these various things point to, but I am intrigued.

It started with some reading earlier in the week, when I came to Luke 1 in my One-Year Bible. Admittedly, I had that brief surge of "been there, done that" wash over me as I started a gospel I have read and taught out of many times before. I fought the temptation to skip over it, pretty confident that something would speak out.

I did not have to wait long:

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 

But she was much perplexed (um, YEAH) by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 

Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”  The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. (verses 26-380

I prayed for open eyes and ears as I read. And soon that statement, "For nothing will be impossible with God," stirred in me.

I thought to myself, "Do I believe that? I mean, really believe that?" Because if I did, I would pray bolder prayers. And I would never give up. That's what faith is. It means that I believe, and I am confident that God is who He says he is.

No, it doesn't mean I have to scrunch up my face and somehow prayer harder. But it does mean, like the persistent widow in Luke 18, that I keep showing up, and keep asking.

So I assembled a list of "impossibles." I don't feel the need to share most of them. But suffice it to say they point to the future, to forgiveness, to revolution big and small. And I have committed to praying about them every day. For healing in a friend's life, who just received a devastating diagnosis. For housing for two friends I have met in the last year who live on the street. For love to break through in some hearts....

As I said at the start, these truths come in bits and pieces. I pray for one, then two, then three days about the Impossibles. Then I heard last night as I studied for my class, a stunning reminder. We are working through the Torah, and are currently in the Book of Exodus. In chapter 32, there is a fascinating section, after God hears of the insane decision of Aaron and the Israelites to fashion an idol in the shape of a golden calf for worship right at the time when Moses is received the Ten Commandments. God is furious at their utter foolishness in praying to other gods. Moses speaks up on their behalf:

Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’”  And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people. (verses 12-14)

There is not room here to go into the Hebrew and explain what this passage means. But certainly, we have imposed the English meaning of "change your mind" and tried to make it to fit into our little theological boxes, thinking we can constrain and quantify God to fit our favorite posture. But God will not be boxed!

I have enjoyed this round of reading Exodus, seeing an intimacy between Moses and God that is beautiful, and in many ways (I believe) archetypal of what we can have with God as we now have His Spirit in us. What I take from this is that if you find yourself in disaster, you can pray to God and ask him to have mercy or even remind him of his promises.  Some want to say that prayer is only for our benefit, to help shape us to conform more to God's unbending plans. Sure, that is part of the process. But I also know God to be a God of relationship and dialogue and mercy and love. The Bible is one unending story of God's pursuit of his people, repeatedly chasing us down and calling us to Himself, the Author and Sustainer of life.

Does that mean that I think God is my personal cosmic vending machine? Absolutely not. But do I know him to be one who wants to hear from me, placing every one of my hopes and fears and prayers into his hands, every moment and every day? Absolutely.

Today I came across a question that carried me further into these truths that have been eeking themselves out in front of me. I receive a daily reading from the Christian Quotation of the Day. (Have no fear, these are definitely worth subscribing to. They are not corny, Precious Moments, power-of-positive-thinking crap... they are historic, profound words from all sorts of writers, leaders, and saints.) 

Today contained this question. Let it bother you.

Do I exhibit the unexplainable in my life?

Like Mary, I am trying to have my reply be, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” May we live lives of faith in the impossible.

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