the personal God…
After a recent trip to Kona and interaction with, in my mind, one of the greatest Christian thinkers right now, I have embarked on a journey to read the whole Bible. Surprisingly enough, even though I grew up a pastor’s kid and have been in full-time ministry for five years now, I have yet to read the whole Bible. With that in mind, many of my future posts may be focused on what I’m reading and how it’s affecting me and challenging my thoughts. Having successfully made my way through the Pentateuch (which, if I can make it through that I can make it through the rest, right?) I am now entering the History books.
I’m reading through in the Message, which you may or may not be a fan of, but I am LOVING it. I love the freshness of it all, the way it brings new life to concepts I’ve heard for so long. But what I’m really loving is Eugene Peterson’s introductions at the beginning of each book and each section of scripture (gospels, prophets, etc.) My reading tonight included the introduction to the History books and the book of Joshua. Here’s an excerpt from the intro to Joshua:
As the Book of Joshua takes the story of salvation forward from the leadership and teaching of Moses, it continues to keep us grounded in places and connected to persons: place names, personal names – hundreds of them. What we often consider to be the subjects of religion – ideas, truths, prayers, promises, beliefs – are never permitted to have a life of their own apart from particular persons and actual places. Biblical religion has a low tolerance for “great ideas” or “sublime truths” or “inspirational thoughts” apart from the people and places in which they occur. God’s great love and purposes for us are worked out in the messes, storms and sins, blue skies, daily work, and dreams of our common lives, working with us as we are and not as we should be.
Sometimes I forget that mine is a faith that believes in the personal interaction of human beings with their Creator. Sometimes I think that it’s really all about how well I perform or just how many hours a day I pray (don’t actually remember the last time I made it to the hours column). This simple introduction has reminded me that mine is a God who sees me, in that Avatar “I see you” sort of way. He doesn’t look through me to what I am doing and judge me solely on my performance. He is that very personal, close, Emmanuel sort of being…the one that works with me and not in spite of me. He is that God who sees the individual in every situation, as well as seeing the whole. The one who works for the best possible outcome for every member. He works within space and time, co-creating with us as we try and fail and then try and fail again. And somehow, his purposes are worked out within those very simple, daily, get-up-and-try-again moments.
I am refreshed tonight by this ancient revelation that, for me, has taken on new connotations. My prayer tonight is that I would be able to engage with Him remembering that He actually hears me. And that I would be like Him and see every individual where they’re at and to remember their names like He does mine.
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