Tonight, Harper said…
“Daddy, do you know what big gorillas go pee pee and poo poo on? A big gorilla potty! Isn’t that funny, man!”
Tonight, Harper said…
“Daddy, do you know what big gorillas go pee pee and poo poo on? A big gorilla potty! Isn’t that funny, man!”
As the first Adam’s sweat embraces my face may the last Adam’s blood race through me with grace.
These are song lyrics that I heard on Air 1, Christian radio.
I am amazed by the brevity of this statement. It encompasses so much of the story of redemption. It expresses the arch of God’s story. Because of Adam’s sin in the garden, sin entered the world. I recently re-read the first chapters of Genesis and realized that God’s response to Adam and Eve’s sin was not one of anger and vengeance. When God spoke to them about the consequences of their sin, he was not threatening or pronouncing judgment upon them. He was lamenting the fact that their actions had changed the very nature of the world. They had introduced corruption. And God lamented. They had brought pain into existence. And God lamented. They had ushered in death. And God lamented.
Then the Lord God said, “Look, the human beings have become like us, knowing both good and evil. What if they reach out, take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it? Then they will live forever!” So the Lord God banished them from the Garden of Eden, and he sent Adam out to cultivate the ground from which he had been made. After sending them out, the Lord God stationed mighty cherubim to the east of the Garden of Eden. And he placed a flaming sword that flashed back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. – Genesis 3:22-24
God had given man free will and as a result, he knew they possessed the power to take from the tree of life and live forever. This would have violated the nature of the universe. For if they had done this, they would have been like God, yet harboring darkness and corruption within them. Sadly, God could not allow this to happen. He was forced to banish them, thereby removing their opportunity to live forever. Had they not eaten of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, Adam and Eve would have lived forever. The fruit of the tree of life had not been banned from them. Only the fruit of the other tree. But darkness cannot abide with light. Therefore, they could no longer be allowed to eat the good fruit. This was their separation from God – their separation from the life of God.
Being a father, I know that God regretted having to banish them. But there was no other choice in order to maintain their free will. The amazing thing was that God foreknew that all of this would happen. It purposefully arranged events and the created environment so that it would happen. It was the only way. So what must it have been like for God before their sin, to anticipate it all the while being in happy fellowship with his innocent children? Even though God is not a temporal being, it his joy still must have been bittersweet. Yet, also through his ability to be outside of time, God also must have been experiencing the lasting joy of his permanently redeemed children through Christ.
I pity God in this moment and I praise him for his plan of reconciliation. For he knew that even in the moment when sin began it corruptive work on Adam, tainting him throughout his being, he had already begun the cleansing process. It’s almost as if God had left a remnant of himself inside Adam – untouchable by sin. This being a dormant property of life-giving power that would only be activated when Jesus uttered his last words, “It is finished.” And this is, in fact what he did. God left the back door open a crack. Open just enough to whisper through, to communicate his love and thus allow all men everywhere a chance to hear his voice and see glimpses of his divinity.
To me, this remnant seems like dormant cells in our bodies. No, more like DNA at the atomic level. Every fiber of our being possesses these remnant atoms. They wait within us. They course through our blood. They do no harm to the surrounding tissue. But at the new birth, they come alive. In fact they are much like Chi – undetectable energy. When they are quickened, they cleanse us and give us balance. This life-giving Chi re-connects us with God and it races through us with grace.
King David committed a terrible sin against Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba by sending him to the front lines of a war for the purpose of having him killed to get him out of the way. He did this because he lusted after Bathsheba and wanted her for himself. The prophet Nathan came before David and revealed to him that he knew of David’s sin. He told David that his punishment would be for his new son, his child from Bathsheba, would die. David’s response to this is in 2 Samuel chapter 12.
David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and went into his house and spent the nights lying on the ground. The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them. On the seventh day the child died. David’s servants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they thought, “While the child was still living, we spoke to David but he would not listen to us. How can we tell him the child is dead? He may do something desperate.” David noticed that his servants were whispering among themselves and he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked. “Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.” Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate. His servants asked him, “Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!” He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”
Though I do not believe the recent miscarriage in any way occurred due to some sin that Tara or I committed, I do strongly relate to David in his response. David was very sad and pleaded with God to spare the child. I was the same. I fervently prayed for the deliverance of my child. But God, in his wisdom, had another plan. I do not spite God. I hold no ill will toward him or anyone else. Though I miss and want my child to be with me, I trust in the will of the Lord. He directs my path.
Through this experience I have realized to a personal degree what it means to be refined by fire. I feel that God has blessed and honored me by taking me through this crucible. I am not in control. He is. And I trust that he leads me in paths that will enrich and prepare me to fulfill his plan for me. I don’t know what that plan is. As with all things in God’s plan, it will be revealed in the fullness of time. So I wait patiently on the Lord and I allow him to mold me and make me ever greater into his image.
These moments have made me more aware of the what many believers before me have understood. The Lord is to be praised and trusted no matter what happens.
One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised.”
In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. – Job 1:13-22
The day we found out that Tara had miscarried, we came home from the doctor. She went to sleep and following the example of David and Job, I took a shower to cleanse myself. I went into the office in our house and I worshiped God. I prayed for an hour, then I sang praises to him for another hour. I ran my tears dry and I could cry no more.
I felt redeemed. I felt cleansed. I felt honored. Of course, I miss my child and I will always mourn his loss, but I know as David did, that he cannot come back to me. However, I will one day go to be with him and all of us will be a family together forever with the Lord. This brings me contentment and hope.
More so, I feel connected to the past. I feel that my story is a complementary chapter in God’s story. Other chapters are about David and Job and I share the story with them. They are not just people from long ago. They are my family, my forefathers. We are all sons of God. This is why I feel blessed – because I am part of God’s ever-unfolding Word. I am nothing except what the Lord makes me. I have nothing but what the Lord gives me.
He gives and takes away. But in all things, blessed be the name of the Lord.
Harper needs to see the darker side of the world to appreciate the good and to know the plight of many people. In Anne Rice’s book, Christ the Lord, seven year old Jesus witnesses the terror of running from bandits and people intent on robbing and perhaps killing he and his family. He sees the destruction of cities and the many displaced people and is saddened. He is also frightened by this. But in all this Jesus is “sensitive”. He recognizes it as evil even though his child mind doesn’t understand it. I think in reality Jesus did witness similar atrocities and it helped form his compassion for others and refine his message of salvation – a salvation not based in this world, but as a deliverance from it. Or perhaps a transformation of the world by God’s power to be something better. A new earth.
I need to shelter and protect Harper, but I also need to allow him to see some evil in doses he can handle, so that he can have a realistic image of the world he lives in so that he will develop a genuine compassion. I was sheltered too much (with all good intent) by my parents and, consequently, do not have a potent compassion for the plight of others. If harper is to change the world, he needs to understand this…. As do I.
Originally posted on the Refined By Fire blog for the Wednesday Quail Springs Church of Christ adult class
Last Wednesday night we talked about Jesus being the precious cornerstone mentioned in 1 Peter 2:4-8. Here’s the text:
See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,”and, “A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.”They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
I think there is more depth here to be plumbed. The “stone that the builders rejected” was certainly Immanuel – the savior of the world. However, because it was Jesus, then the stone must be interpreted as more than just the person of Jesus. For Jesus was the Word of God (Jn. 1:1). Peter speaks of the “message” that the people disobeyed as the rock that caused the people to stumble.
This is a major Jewish reference and it points out the consistency the Jews used in their behavior with Jesus and with most if not all of God’s prophets. An additional meaning to the “cornerstone” is not only that it refers to the person of Jesus, but also to his quality of being the very Word of God. His is the message of hope. He is the voice of power that spoke creation into existence. And it is upon this Word, this Person, this Message that all of Zion (the kingdom of God) is built.
Interestingly, this was not a “new” message. The prophets had been speaking it for hundreds of years before Christ. The prophet Samuel even creates the link between God, the Lord, and the imagery of a rock in chapter 22:2-3 of 2 Samuel:
The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior— from violent men you save me.
Many of the Jews did not except the Word before Christ’s time and they did not except it from Jesus himself either. In Luke 11:47-51, Jesus says:
Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your forefathers who killed them. So you testify that you approve of what your forefathers did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. Because of this, God in his wisdom said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.’ Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.
And again in Luke 24:25, Jesus mysteriously tells two of his followers on the road to Emmaus,
How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!
The book of Hebrews does a great job at painting the big picture of our story with God. In its opening verses it says,
In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.
From these passages we learn that the precious cornerstone upon which Zion is built is Jesus who is the Word of God. For generations before Christ, God spoke his Word through the prophets, predicting the coming of the Messiah and warning Israel. And just as the Jews rejected this Word, this cornerstone, this creative power by crucifying Jesus, they equally rejected the previous prophets who spoke the same thing.
It is important to note that when the same Peter preached his first sermon at Pentecost, he accused the Jews in his audience of being the ones who killed the Messiah. Yet his words reach out to us as well. We stand accused of the same crime and are guilty of it. Yet…
When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. – Titus 3:4-7
Praise be to God for reconciling us, his rejectors, to Himself.