Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Who Is Like God?

Who is like God? Interesting question, isn’t it?

The writer of Psalm 113 asks the question. The name Michael is the Hebrew form of the question. So what do we do with this question?

At one level, the obvious answer is no one. No one is like God. Scripture seems to emphasize that over and over again. God says to Job, “Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place?” The psalms praise the God who stretches out the heavens, wraps himself in light, and redeems his people, all  things we cannot do. And God says to Isaiah, “my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.”

And yet, at another level, every human person is like God in some way. Genesis 1 tells us that human persons are made in the image of God. Part of the irony of the snake’s temptation in Genesis 3 is that he tells the woman that if she eats of the fruit she will be like God. The first couple doesn’t seem to realize that they, unlike any other creature, are already like God, made a little lower than the heavenly beings.

A substantial part of the human predicament since the original rebellion against God has been remembering our place – remembering who we are and who God is. Humans have a tendency to either think too little of themselves, or too much of themselves.

We are not, as some would have us believe, mere creatures, on par with every other creature on earth. But nor are we little gods, knowing what is best for us and those around us. We are not the sculptors of our own destiny nor can we begin to fathom the mind of God.

When circumstances are not going the way we had hoped or we are faced with huge disappointments, we might be tempted to say, I can’t believe God would do _______ (you fill in the blank). That thought, however, should always be tempered with the question, “who is like God?” As high as the heavens are above the earth, so are God’s ways higher than our ways and his thoughts higher than ours.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Rodent Rage

I like to garden. I especially like my vegetable garden because I get a tangible payoff – lettuce, beans, tomatoes, etc.

I had given up gardening for a few years in part, because it takes a fair amount of time and time was something I lacked; in part, because we had a groundhog family that seemed intent on eating everything that I planted down to the ground. No matter how beautiful the garden looked and how healthy the plants were, just about the time I could imagine the first beans coming on, that nasty rodent and his extended family would eat my carefully tended plants down to their stems.

But a couple years ago I decided to give it a try again. After all, I hadn’t seen a groundhog in a long time – at least not in my yard – and I really love gardening. Last summer was one of the best gardens I have had in a long time. And this year looked even more promising. Until today.

I walked out to my garden after work to check on my beans, hoping there might be enough there for my husband and I to enjoy with our dinner. But to my horror, three of my six rows of beans were visibly munched on by some ravenous rodent. And those that were not munched on were flattened.

Visions of shotguns danced in my head. I considered dousing myself in mosquito spray and standing vigil near my garden all night, gun in hand, ready to eliminate any furry intruder. Of course I knew I was as likely to shoot myself in the foot as kill the invading varmint, but that seemed a small price to pay.

Once my husband got home and calmed me down he assured me he would find a way to foil the fiend. And I realized that all my ranting, as usual, had done me no good at all.

And that made me realize that gardening is a life lesson of sorts. It takes patience, work, and care but in the end, the results are largely out of my control. How often hasn’t my life been like that? And how often haven’t I ranted, furious that things hadn’t turned out my way?

So what if instead of ranting, I tried to figure out what God would like me to learn from the experience? That would probably be a good place to start. Currently, I’m thinking that maybe God wants me to learn to improve my aim…….

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

God and My Children

One of the hardest parts of parenting is learning to let go. If you happen to be someone who prides herself on taking good care of the people she loves, maybe even to the point of micromanaging at times, this is even more difficult. The older my children got, the more I realized I was not in control. And I was not always keen on that.

Oh don’t get me wrong. When things were going well—when their friends were nice, they made the team, they were doing well in school, etc.—I didn’t really have a problem. But when things went wrong, when life was not turning out the way they had hoped, planned, and worked for, then I didn’t do so well. I wanted to help. I wanted to fix things.

Last year one of my children had an especially bad experience. This experience left my child emotionally crushed. Some of the behavior that followed worried me. Some of what the child said worried me. And there was nothing I could do other than be there for her.....and worry. But at one point, when I was feeling very low and very anxious, a dear friend of mine said to me, “God loves your children even more than you do.”

God loves your children even more then you do.  I had to let that sink in a bit.

God loves my children even more than I do.

Well of course he does, I thought. But what does that mean?

It means he knows them better than me. He knows what is best for them. It means I need to trust him. If I couldn’t trust the one who had created this child, the one who had formed this child in my womb, the one who had given this child to our family, who could I trust?

So now, as I continue to let go, as I continue to try to figure out how to be a good mom as my children leave, as I worry about what might lie ahead, I hear my friend reassure me:

“God loves your children even more than you do.”

Ps. 139:14-18