Thursday, May 15, 2008

There's seeing and then there's seeing

Behold your God - Part 2

Why would God say to Israel those three simple words: Behold your God? How are they supposed to help us when things are spinning out of control? are they supposed to give me comfort? Wouldn't it be better for God to talk about the situation more than Himself? Shouldn't He says words like: It'll be okay. I'm fixing this. It'll only be for a little while. I'll add this here. I'll bring you this person. Or even...I'm sorry. You'll be happy again...Promise.

That's what I've often done when I want to give comfort to my girls. I say how sorry I am. How I wish this hadn't happened to them. That it will be better soon. That God will do this or that for them. That they'll see one day. But that's not what God does. When He offers comfort, what He offers is Himself. Before we get into what specifically He wants us to see about Him, let's look at why He'd do this.

The best analogy I've ever heard came from a talk that John Piper did at a Desiring God national conference called Sex and the Supremacy of Christ. (Tantalizing title, huh? Yeah. You would be so blessed to listen to the whole thing.) In his second talk, he began by saying what he desired for us all...

My conviction is that the better you know the supremacy of Christ the more sacred and satisfying and Christ-exalting your sexuality will be. I have a picture in my mind of the majesty of Christ like the sun at the center of the solar system of your life. The massive sun, 333,000 times the mass of the earth, holds all the planets in orbit, even little Pluto, 3.6 billion miles away.

So it is with the supremacy of Christ in your life. All the planets of your life—your sexuality and desires, your commitments and beliefs, your aspirations and dreams, your attitudes and convictions, your habits and disciplines, your solitude and relationships, your labor and leisure, your thinking and feeling—all the planets of your life are held in orbit by the greatness and gravity and blazing brightness of the supremacy of Jesus Christ at the center of your life. And if he ceases to be the bright, blazing, satisfying beauty at the center of your life, the planets will fly into confusion, and a hundred things will be out of control, and sooner or later they will crash into destruction.

We were made to see and savor with everlasting satisfaction the supremacy of Christ.
This analogy sparked my understanding. I could really picture the fallacy of how I had been living my life. What I did when my parenting seemed to go off course was focus on my books on parenting...prayed about parenting...talked to others who seemed to be getting it "right". When my goals or dreams when askew, I focused my energy on my plans. I thought about where I was going, what God was doing in my life and in me, talked to others about my plans. When bitterness or anger or grief overwhelmed me, I focused on trying to forgive them. Or forgetting the past. Or counting it as get the picture. Whatever was going wrong became my new focus, my new work to be better.

But what would it mean if Pluto began to wobble off course? What if Mars began to go farther and farther away from the earth and threatened to hit Jupiter? How would we "fix" it? The answer would not be to send up little rockets to try to fix Pluto's orbit. It would not be to wonder about Mars...because the problem would not lie there. The problem would be with the Sun. If our planets go off course, it's because the Sun has lost some of its power, its magnitude, its supremacy over the planets. Our focus turns to the center of the solar system because that's what holds everything in place.

Our lives also have something that holds everything in place...Jesus Christ. Colossians 1:15-17 tells us about Jesus...
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
All things hold together in Him. I see this verse...I believe this verse. But sometimes like Jesus said about many around Him: Seeing, I don't see...and hearing, I don't hear. It is so hard for me to focus on what is truly the issue at hand (how I see God) and not on the situation that is causing me so much pain and trouble. But when that happens I ignore the only true source of help in my time of need. As Dr. Piper points out later in his talk, this doesn't mean that you don't use strategies to help you, such as fleeing temptation or calling others for counsel or even reading good books. But what it doesn't mean is counting on these things to get my life back on track.

What I really need is to behold my see the supremacy of
His power,
His majesty,
His mercy,
His compassion,
His might,
His glory,
His weightiness,
His love,
His wisdom,
His authority,
His trustworthiness,
His constancy,
His grace...

I need to see Him in His fullness. If I could, I could walk on water even in a storm. I could rest my soul, even when I am burdened. I could be at peace, even when I am troubled. Easier said than done sometimes when I am overwhelmed. But now I have a focus. After lots of practice, my heart and mind turn to God more readily as I ask Him again and again...God, who are You here? What kind of God do I know You to be? How are You feeling about this? How confident are You about where it's all going? And then I listen to His Word (esp. Isaiah 40-42 and 50-55) tell me the answer. And then I say it again and again...and listen a little more the next time.

Then slowly...sometimes begrudgingly...sometimes heart settles. Peace returns. Grief may linger. Sadness sometimes stays. But like a child soothed on her dad's lap, my breath finally catches and I sink in.

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