we believed God’s promises?
Snaprats. Elections and Spring have come to the Midwest. Both are tempestuous teases, promising change after months of bleak inertia but rather delivering unpleasant heaps of wet snow and vitriol. Both test our resolve to hope for future good.
It can be infuriating to put our faith in such unpredictable notions as campaign slogans and El Niño. It’s often quite tempting to simply resign which is fittingly defined by Merriam Webster as “the acceptance that something undesirable cannot be avoided”.
By placing our faith in an idea or system or discipline or denomination or party, we entrust ourselves to it, convinced that it will provide what we hope – that which we most “want to happen or be true”.
Interestingly, Webster includes as synonyms of the word “principle” both truth and theory. It appears that a principle could be either an authentic fact or a highly desirable hypothesis.
It’s not that principles are wrong – they are vital to establish what could be and define the ways we desire to live and work and love and die. However, we are often stuck here, preoccupied with sorting out the right answers or new rules or best methods to practice these basic ideals because everyone has a different opinion about how to do something and what really matters and when something is truly urgent.
Of course, many of us no longer put faith in our government or the climate or religion or any system because these never cease to disappoint as fickle, fleeting, hypocritical, ineffective and, sometimes, tragically violent. This can be incredibly depressing as doubt fractures our confidence and leaves us deeply divided in fear.
Despite our best efforts and worst failures, there exists a set of principles that has endured without fail since the Beginning, established aside the first dawn – rather, causing its brilliance as the illumination that appeared before the sun was cast in the sky. Wisdom came from God’s mouth and witnessed the rest of creation’s spoken birth, including our appointment to the kingdom of heaven and our authority as his likeness. God’s word is the light and life of all humankind. In short, he sustains everything.
There is simply nothing else in the world that can establish a life of this certain magnitude, and there is simply one way in the world to enter it.
We move toward the things we want; our appetites drive us. Our hearts inform our will; our hunger compels our choice. This isn’t the casual relationship we have with our favorite candybar; it is a voracious, relentless, consuming need to be satisfied. Think third trimester pregnancy cravings or parched desert earth or cold-cracked skin.
Without an appetite for God, we will never rest in the security of our inheritance. Without a hunger for goodness, we’ll never care to expose injustice. Without a craving for wisdom, we’ll never overcome futility. Without a longing for mercy, we’ll never speak life. Without a desire for compassion, we’ll never surrender our entitlements to serve someone else. And this is what we’ll miss:
Blessed is the person who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. [Psalm 1:1-3]
Hunger compels the obedience that yields the prosperity we crave. Where we’ve believed that obedience is a muzzle or yoke for the way it steals our independence, we’ve been deceived. It has rather intended to be our freedom because freedom was never about being independent of God but satisfied in him. To the extent we hunger for God and his good gifts we are compelled to consume his wisdom while putting our trust in his goodness.
This reminds me of a hummingbird I saw recently. It flitted from one bloom to another, drinking its fill. It did not disregard its life but found a greater portion of it in the nectar provided by the spring rain.
We too are fragile and small, yet find our greater life in God’s sweet wisdom. Because we hunger, we become willing to heed. When we heed, we find all that we need – nothing more, nothing less.
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. [Gen 1:1-4]
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. [John 1:1-5]
The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began…Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind. [Prov 8:22-23,30-31]
For this is what the Lord says – he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited – he says: “I am the Lord, and there is no other. I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said, “Seek me in vain.” [Is 45:18-19]
For those who revere my name, the sun of righteousness with rise with healing in its wings. [Mal 4:2]
In these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he apponted heir of all things and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. [Heb 1:2-3]
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, he will sit on his throne. Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” [Matt 25:31,34]
How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you.” (Ps 31:19)