Devotional Thought of the Day:
35 Through faith women received their dead relatives raised back to life. Others, refusing to accept freedom, died under torture in order to be raised to a better life. 36 Some were mocked and whipped, and others were put in chains and taken off to prison. 37 They were stoned, they were sawed in two, they were killed by the sword. They went around clothed in skins of sheep or goats—poor, persecuted, and mistreated. 38 The world was not good enough for them! They wandered like refugees in the deserts and hills, living in caves and holes in the ground. 39 What a record all of these have won by their faith! Yet they did not receive what God had promised, 40 because God had decided on an even better plan for us. His purpose was that only in company with us would they be made perfect. Hebrews 11:35-40 (TEV)
The Bible contains stories of salvation which are completely paradoxical. In the tales and the stories of the world, we learn that the heroes were young, beautiful, strong and that they set off on an adventure. In the Bible, they were old, sterile and powerless and God chose them (e.g., Abraham and his wife Sarah). For us it always starts on the wrong foot! What is important in the Bible is not so much to be healthy or ill, but to be with God. One is healthy and holy when one is with God Who comes to meet us in our weakness. The place of our wound, our vulnerability, is the place where God meets us
There is a picture that people post on the internet that annoys the heck out of me. Well, actually there are a lot of them, but one in particular drives me up a wall.
It is a drawing of Jesus, surrounded by “superheroes”, Spiderman, Hulk, Captain America, those kinds of guys. And it contains the quote, “and that is how I really saved the world.”
Now don’t get me wrong, I like the Marvel and DC ficitonal superheroes. They are a cool escape, and I understand their role in our society, giving people hope, and possibly giving them some moral lessons. But they are simply modern fables, they are nothing more than that.
Jesus on the other hand, and those who follow him, are more than that. Living in fellowship with God the Father and depending on people, they really save people’s souls, and oftne their lives.
They aren’t perfect either, as the quote in purple points out, their brokenness is declared clearly in scripture, which makes their work, done depending on God, all the more phenomenal. They don’t have a weakness – they have all of them.
They even doubt God at times.
But they depend on Him, and they dwell assured of his presence
For He has come to dwell with us, to heal us, to reasue us, to support us. To not just fly in and out, but to really care and help us in our lives, especially the dark and challenging parts.
Not just a symbol, but a God who inspires us all to depend on Him, even as we serve others.
And those who do depend on Him, whether old fogies like Abraham, or the ladies who teach preschoolers to sing, “Jesus loves me”, or the pastors in the inner city, caring for those too often left behind, or the missionaries in the Sudan and Cameroon and Nebraska – they are my real heroes. So are they who have gone through the darkness, those abused, those broken beyond imagination, those incarcerated, and those ill ( one lady who has battled cancer for 7 years – 5 years past the time doctors gave her and is going strong) These who found God waiting for them in their darkness and simply hang on.
They know God loves them, they know He is faithful and they go where He sends.
May the Lord help each of us to realize He has done the same with us!
Buttet, N. (2012). The Eucharist, Adoration and Healing. In A. Reid (Ed.), From Eucharistic Adoration to Evangelization (p. 112). London; New York: Burns & Oates.
Discussion/Devotional thoughts of the Day…
20 Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn’t talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, “Why did you shape me like this?” 21 Isn’t it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans? 22 If God needs one style of pottery especially designed to show his angry displeasure 23 and another style carefully crafted to show his glorious goodness, isn’t that all right? 24 Either or both happens to Jews, but it also happens to the other people. 25 Hosea put it well: I’ll call nobodies and make them somebodies; I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved. 26 In the place where they yelled out, “You’re nobody!” they’re calling you “God’s living children.” 27 Isaiah maintained this same emphasis: If each grain of sand on the seashore were numbered and the sum labeled “chosen of God,” They’d be numbers still, not names; salvation comes by (God’s) personal selection. 28 God doesn’t count us; he calls us by name. Arithmetic is not his focus. Romans 9:20-28 (MSG)
They appear in some of my favorite books an movies, Bilbo Baggins, (not to mention his nephew Frodo), Thomas Covenant, Nicholas Seafort, the apprentices Pug and Thomas and Jimmy the Hand. Arthur Dent…..the quarterback in Longest Yard, the general in “the Last Castle”.
It is, I suppose, a special genre…. that of the Anti-hero. The ones who succeed despite themselves, matter of fact it is their weakness, and their mistakes, that endear them to us… and because of which, they find success.
But they are also my favorite people in scripture, REAL PEOPLE – like Gideon, Samuel, David, Jeremiah, Hosea and of course, the last person anyone would have thought would have been a hero (except maybe in his own mind) – the apostle Peter. They too are the people that were not considered the brilliant, the connected, the famous, the wealthy and powerful. Yet God used them, incredibly, as He formed them, empowered and equipped them to do what others could not do.
And everyone is surprised… as if God can’t work through the means He chooses.
Which brings me to you and I.
We are God’s artwork, His masterpiece (see Ephesians 2:10) We may not be much (or some of us, like Peter and I – often – too much!) but God uses us, and uses us to do extraordinary things. It may be what we accomplish, it may be what we endure. It may simply be the example of trying to cling to God’s hand with our last remaining bit of strength – then realizing we are safely nestled in the palm of His other hand. It could be that we are the forefront of a major revival – one where the church is reformed because we were the remnant not to surrender to dreams of past glory, or the machinations to create a future one.
We don’t know – we cannot… we can only trust in God… we can only walk with Him, dance with Him, be cleansed and strengthened by Him…loved by Him.
That is the time – when He receives glory, for the like the cornerstone which the builders rejected – we are found to be an essential block (in my case blockhead) in His building the New Sanctuary… the Body of Christ, those who have been brought to trust in Him, and cleansed by Him.
We are His people – we are His clay…
and He is at work in and through our lives. AMEN