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Tag Archives: relationship with God

Christmas Thoughts: Silence Has Broken

As you could probably tell from my last two posts, I am looking at Christmas completely different this year.  One of the themes that the Spirit keeps bringing to mind is the miracle of the moment that Christmas represents: Jesus stepping into his creation to set the ball in motion for his taking on the sin of the world and making us right with God.  This theme has two parts for me: the obvious Gospel connection, but the other side of it is God’s relationship with Israel and how Jesus birth turned that relationship on its head.

Jesus birth heralded the breaking of the silence between God and his chosen people.  The story of the Bible is the story of God’s relationship with humankind.  This relationship is personified in his relationship with the Israelites.  He chose a people to be his own.  A people to allow him to give a real picture of who he is, a loving and merciful God who, though he is holy, he is also compassionate and forgiving.  He would allow this people to trust him and prove that he can be trusted.  A people that will make him angry, but that he will always accept with open arms if they would just turn back to him in trust.  It is this picture that will eventually apply to all people that trust in his son, Jesus.

A part of any relationship is communication and a give and take.  The history of the Hebrew people and their relationship to God is more of a take relationship.  They take while God gives.  God is patient, but broken trust led to hardships for Israel.  I was working on a brief and abridged history of the Old Testament, but it got too long to put in this post.  I will probably make it a seperate post to refer to in other posts, but the theme that stood out to me as I was writing it was this:

  • God blesses Abraham and his family.
  • Abraham and his family accept the blessing.
  • God tells them how to trust him and prove their trust.
  • Abraham and family move outside of this.
  • God gets angry, but moves out of compassion to their aid.
  • There is a broken relationship and a silence.
  • Abraham and his family deals with consequences because of their lack of trust.
  • They cry out to God.
  • God hears them and moves.
  • Relationship is restored.
  • The cycle repeats.

Now, the thing that happens over time is that the more people there are among the Israelite people, the bigger the broken trust becomes.  The bigger the broken trust, the bigger the broken relationship.  The bigger the consequences, the bigger the cry to God.  The bigger the cry, the more God moves miraculously to their aid.  The bigger the move to their aid, the deeper the relationship becomes.

There are two times in Old Testament history that the broken relationship and silence is the biggest, and the first one is early on.  It is the gap of time between Joseph and Moses.  The best that I can see, after God rescues Jacob’s family from the edge of extinction during the famine there is a time in which there is very little movement between God and the Israelites…at least none that we are privy to.  As far as the cause of this, all I can figure out is that Jacob constantly tried to live the relationship with God and God’s promises to him on his own terms.  His sons seem to be the same way.  Even Joseph is pretty prideful before he is sold as a slave (it is only thing to have a dream in which your family bows down to you, it is something else to brag to them about it).  This pride in the family was probably a pretty major breach of trust that needed to be broken to deepen the relationship.

So, there is nearly a 400 year silence.  This is broken when Moses, the one who was exiled from both Pharoh’s family and the Israelites and was now living in the wilderness with “unchosen” members of Abraham’s family as a shepherd, was tending flocks and God spoke to him through a burning bush.  No wonder he was afraid to be God’s spokesperson!  Not only was he really not an invited member of Abraham’s family, he was sent to claim that God was now ready to repair the relationship with people who felt abandoned by him!  This a major break in silence!

And through the story of the Exodus, God moved in a major way to repair a major rift in the relationship with his people.  Though this cycle of broken relationship happened over and over again in the wilderness, the relationship really was a lot deeper afterwards.   However, with this came bigger and bigger movements of lack of trust on the part of the Hebrews.  This moved them and God further and further apart.

The story of God’s people once they settled in the “promised land” is a constant recycling of the broken trust circle of life.  God’s warnings became more and more severe, but his moves of compassion became bigger and bigger, as well.  Eventually, the broken trust led God to allow his warnings to become reality and his people were taken from the land he gave them.  It was during this time that God kept sending people to warn that there would be a major break in relationship if they did not turn back in complete trust to him…but he also kept promising a future in which the relationship would be completely restored by a coming King…his chosen servant who would make everything right forever between God and his people.

After God heard the cried of the exiled Israelites, he brought them back to Israel.  He saved them, but they had to deal with the consequences.  After over 1000 years of deepened relationship between God and his people, God went silent again.  Their pride and arrogance caused a lack of trust that broke the relationship.  Remember, the deeper the relationship, the deeper and darker the silence becomes.  During this time, Israel was never truly free.  Captive to several nations.  It was another 400 year silence, but this one was worse.  Israel lost their place as God’s blessed nation.  The people sought God, but God did not send any more messengers.  I can not even imagine this, as the citizen of a country less than 300 years old and as someone who has God’s Spirit with me constantly.  I don’t have words to describe what this silence must have been like (no pun intended).

Religion became ritual.  People used it for power.  Commoners believed in God but did not understand him.  The scriptures were read, but not comprehended.  God was a part of their culture, but not an intregal part of their lives.

This was the silence that was broken by the cry of a baby.  Shouts from angels to sleepy shepherds ended God’s broken communication.  Visions and dreams were given again.  A supernatural star broke the monotony of the same nightime scenery seen for 400 years.

A baby broke the silence.  The chosen one had come.  God’s annointed one would repair the relationship between God and man forever.  And he laid in a cattle feeding trough being watched by a carpenter and his wife along with dirty shepherd and animals probably marked for sacrafice.

It came upon a midnight clear…and the silence was broken once and for all.

Father, Jesus, and Spirit, thank you for breaking the silence.  Thank you for repairing the relationship.  Thank you for allowing me to be accepted by you.  Please help my trust to be real and my love to be true.  Your son and dependent, Joe.

Performancing Metrics

 

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Me and Steven Curtis Chapman

I hate driving.  Period.  I just don’t like doing it.  Those who know me well know this.  As a matter of fact, in college I had a friend (who became a roommate and is still a friend years later) who was almost like a chauffer to me.  It was the perfect driving relationship.  He loved driving and had a vehicle, and I hated driving and was carless.  Thanks, CW…I think I still owe you for gas.

I don’t know what it is about it.  A lot of the same reasons other people love driving have the opposite effect on me.  I don’t like sitting there.  I don’t like the process of acceleration or braking.  The passing lines on the road make me tired.  Driving in general just makes me stressed and tired.

At this point in life, I had come to grips with driving.  I have become comfortable with the amount of driving required in my life.  I am good.  As long as life does not ask me for more driving, I am okay.  I can do the driving I need to do in my daily life.  I don’t love it, but I can take.  At least I was able to.

The old feelings about driving have returned.  The old hatred is rising.  Life has asked me to do extra driving…EVERYDAY!

In January, LA developed some issues with vertigo.  Over the months it has gotten worse.  Towards the end of the last school year (within the last few weeks of it), it got to the point that the doctor heavily suggested that she not drive anymore until it settles down dramatically.  So….everything circles back to me and a steering wheel…NB hasn’t got his license yet (he is only two and a half…I think he has to wait a couple of years).

This summer wasn’t too bad.  NB and I worked the driving into our daily adventures (or man-ventures, if you will).  But now school is back in session, and I am back to work.  The extra 40-45 minutes per trip each day is starting to take a toll on me, especially in the afternoons.  After an exhausting day of teaching, the extra time in traffic is not the most awesome thing to look forward to.

So, once again, I hate driving.

However, a chance encounter with Steven Curtis Chapman might change my perspective and attitude.

I like to think myself as more of a rocker, musically speaking.  My reality is probably more folk-rocky then I would care to admit.  I am not that into adult contemporary, or so I like to claim.  Actually right now I am really getting into hymns.  But will this wide mix, Steven Curtis Chapman hasn’t really been on my radar since I wore out my “Live Adventure” tape in high school (okay, I did really dig the song Speechless, and Cinderella has made me cry once or twice).  Yesterday, I was not expecting him to rock me into a lesson from God.

As I was driving to pick up LA before going to get NB, I was stuck in traffic.  I just happened to be listening to one of our local Christian stations, and a song came on.  At first it was talking about the daily life of a stay-at-home mom, but then the chorus caught my attention.

 (prechorus)

And while I may not know you I bet I know you
Wonder sometimes does it matter at all
We’ll let me remind you it all matters just as long as you

(chorus)

Do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you
Cause He made you to do
Every little thing that you do to bring a smile to His face
And tell the story of grace
With every move that you make
And every little thing you do

I have heard the “do everything to the glory of the Lord” thing all of my life.  I have read it in the Bible.  I have heard it from the pulpit.  I have read it in countless devotional type books.  But it never hit me like it did yesterday.  Oh, Mr. Chapman, sometimes you have a way with words that just hit me between the eyes.  This was another “smack to the back of the head” moment with God.

I felt like driving was a meaningless task.  A means to and end.  Just something to get out of the way.  It didn’t matter.  But it does.  It really matters.  We really are called to “do everything you do to the glory of the one who made you.”  It is our job.  I just didn’t know how to do it with the “small stuff” in life.

That is where the rest of the chorus got me.  The “every little think that you do” bringing a smile to his face part got me.  That is it.  Driving is a little thing, but I need to do it knowing that he put me there to drive.  To serve my family.  To know that it is for him.  To have the time to just enjoy my God and Father in heaven.  And the best part is that when we do this, then we really do “tell the story of grace with every move that you make and every little thing that you do.”

Isn’t that the goal?  Isn’t that what we should be doing?  We need to truly enjoy God in all the little moments and tedium of life, and when we do we show the story of grace to the world.  That is what most people in the world are looking for.  They want to have joy that is above the day to day ups and downs.  That only comes from a relationship with God through Jesus.

Today, life was different.  A smile came to my face in all of the “small stuff” today.  Driving was easier.  I don’t love it, but I can enjoy it as I enjoy God through driving…and every little thing that I do.

Thank you, Steven Curtis Chapman!  And thank you Jesus for making that moment happen yesterday!

Oh, and here is the video for the song.  It is a little cheesy (the video), but fun.  Do Everything–Steven Curtis Chapman.

——————————————UPDATE—————————————————

Going on a week later, and I have not heard this song on the radio again.  I have been listening more often to try to catch it, too.  God is awesome.  He arranged for me to hear it at just the right time.  Now that I have said this, I will probably hear it EVERYTIME I turn on the radio and I will get sick of it.

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Performancing Metrics

 

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