I was up in the middle of the night, i’m pretty sure because God wanted to tell me something about this year’s thanksgiving. I was reflecting on thanksgiving and why this year it seems so much more real to me. this year i decided to celebrate thanksgiving instead of thankshaving. normally this holiday is one where we can list the several things that we’re grateful for. but mostly that’s just a list of how we’re better off than the next guy.
i’m hoping my holiday has changed from that.
it only takes God giving you something, and then taking it away before you were ready to give it up, to realize that’s not just about gratefulness. it’s about realizing where it came from. God is the giver of all “good and perfect gifts.” he can “give and take away.”
When you begin to see with these eyes, you see everything in your life as a gift. God gives- and not only that, but you have to realize that it was His before it was yours and it will be His again someday. in essence, everything we have is just out on loan. the person lying beside you in bed at night, the children that keep you awake, the next breath you take- its all on loan. God can ask for it back, but He gave it to us to love and enjoy for His glory while we have it.
when we see things as “mine” or “ours”, like it’s a right we have, it’s not really thankfulness, it’s just making a list of stuff. but when we see what God has given- that it’s a gift, not a right, not something deserved- then we can be truly thankful.
this all seemed a lot more clearer at 4AM.
Watched Evan Almighty last night. Not bad. Of course, sequels are never live up to the original. But for some reason, in the middle of the one of the worst nights of my life, it became clear.
God gives the ark. That’s how you know.
Noah’s ark. Jonah’s whale-belly. The disciples’ boat. They all were out, living in the midst of a storm, a storm that God can control (as seen in the disciples’ boat example), but that’s not how God chooses to show us his love. He doesn’t get rid of storms, he gives us a place of comfort in it. The ark still endured the storm. Jonah still got tossed around. The disciples still got wet. But they were in the presence of a loving God that gave refuge, a sense of peace in the midst of that which could not be controlled.
A common theme to early civilizations (we’re talking pre-pre-anything. The time that the Pentateuch was written) was the idea of “toe-voo va boe-hoo” (that’s transliterated Hebrew. sorry, no hebrew font on this app, and I’m not sure i could remember how to spell it). The uncontrollable waters. The place where, if you upset the gods who lived there, you were sure to die. A place of refuge was necessary for life to continue.
So, when Jesus calmed the storm, that was a pretty big deal. When God “hovered above the waters”, also a big deal. God is bigger than that and is in control of all that.
So why doesn’t he just make nice waters all the time? Why the storms?
Because then we’d never enter the ark. We’d never need the presence of Jesus. We’d never reconsider that maybe we’re headed in the wrong direction (in the case of Jonah). We’d never see how good God truly is because we’d never recognize our need for him in the storms.
God doesn’t choose to give us bad things, storms. And they’re not outside of his control.
My favorite line from the movie last night was Morgan Freeman’s jaunt on opportunity. He said, “When someone prays for patience, does God just make you patient or does he give the opportunity to become a more patient person? Or when someone prays for the family to become closer, does He give you warm, happy feelings or the opportunity to do something together?”
When we cry out to God in the midst of a storm, does God take away the storm or give you the opportunity to find refuge in Him?
(I also have thoughts on the “knowledge of good and evil” and the curse. But that shall come later. )
Then Jesus became explicit: “Lazarus died. And I am glad for your sakes that I wasn’t there. You’re about to be given new grounds for believing. Now let’s go to him.” (John 11:14-15)
Mary came to where Jesus was waiting and fell at his feet, saying, “Master, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her sobbing and the Jews with her sobbing, a deep anger welled up within him. He said, “where did you put him?”
“Master, come and see,” they said. Now Jesus wept.
The Jews said, “Look how deeply he loved him.”
Others among them said, “Well, if he loved him so much, why didn’t he do something to keep him from dying? After all he opened the eyes of a blind man.”
Then Jesus, the anger again welling up within him, arrived at the tomb. It was a simple cave in the hillside with a slab of stone laid against it. Jesus said, “Remove the stone.” The sister of the dead man, Martha, said, “Master, by this time there’s a stench. He’s been dead for four days!”
Jesus looked her in the eye. “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (11:33-40)
Things i’ve noticed:
1. Jesus’ “anger welled up within him.” Twice.
2. “if only you were here”
3. “if he loved him *that* much”
4. “it’s been four days…”
5. “Didn’t I tell you?”
6. “new grounds for believing//the glory of God.”
It’s become very evident to me that it’s not Jesus’ love, or lack thereof, for Lazarus, Mary or Martha that is at the center of this story. He gets just a little angry when people begin to tie his love to his acts. They begin thinking that they are the reason for what Jesus did. But really, this miraculous act was about the glory of God.
Somehow we begin to think that God’s love for us is only made evident when He does what we want Him to do, in our time. But that’s not love. Love isn’t always getting what you want.
We know God loves us because He puts us in the midst of his miraculous works. Whether it’s creation or redemption, He has made us a part of His great plan for this world. And he does miracles all the time to give us reason to believe in it, to continue believing in it, even when He doesn’t do what we want when we want Him to.