Monthly Archives: February 2010
Long title, I know. One passage, illustrative. One of my favorites.
1In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
4And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”
6Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”
8And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”
Do you see the progression? God’s glory revealed into his brokenness (“I am ruined!”), which is the perfect storm for gospel wakefulness …
I’m currently at work on my third book. I’d like to share bits and pieces as I go, if that’s okay. The book is about the gospel (of course), and here is a passage from the chapter I finished today, which is on brokenness.
When our heavenly Father looks upon the broken mess of our lives, he doesn’t snicker or sigh. He ministers to us a sweeter comfort than any temporary and worldly comfort we’d sought before. We are told by the prophet, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” God doesn’t despise us in our brokenness; he comforts us in it. The greater the brokenness, the greater the impulse to trust him. The greater the trust in him, the greater the joy of his salvation. So, then, the further to the end of ourselves we go, the more of Christ we will enjoy.
What does God do with dust and ash?
He grows things out of them.
He covers them with purple raiments.
He lifts people out of them.
He unfairly accepts them in exchange for beauty.
He writes mysterious things in them.
He spits in them and uses the mud to give sight.
He washes them off your stinky feet.
He breathes into them and creates new life.
He descends into them, submits to their suffocation, and emerges alive and spotless.
When you return to dust, even if your body should be burnt to ashes and scattered over the four winds, he who is the Lord over the earth will be able to collect you, reconstitute you, and resurrect you into a body fit for eternity.
When God called Moses to demand release of the Israelites from Egyptian captivity, Moses felt inadequate and unqualified. He asked, “Who am I to do such a thing?”
Now, when I ask this question of God, I usually ask in false humility. What I really want is God to reassure me of my qualifications and giftedness. What I really want is God to pump up my self-esteem, to inflate my already in-danger-of-popping ego. I am really saying, “Please remind me how awesome I am so that I’ll be confident enough to do this.”And I fully expect God to respond, “Jared, you’re good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people like you.”
This not what God said to Moses. In fact, he really didn’t even answer the question “Who is Moses?” He answered the question “Who is God?”The answer, of course, is God.
But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”
— Exodus 3:11-12
“Who am I?”
“Never mind who you are. You’re right; you’re a nobody. But you are called. I will be with you. And the sign of your success will not be a gold watch and a plaque and a place in Superduper Church …
“The gospel is not a set of beliefs that arise, or could arise, from empirical observations of the whole human experience. It is the announcement of a name and a fact that offer the starting point for a new and life-long enterprise of understanding and coping with experience. It is a new starting point. To accept it means a new beginning, a radical conversion.”
—- Lesslie Newbigin, Foolishness to the Greeks
This is an excerpt from my current book-in-progress:
But! Oh man. If we are regularly and excitedly engaging people in the good news of the finished saving work of the sacrificing, dying, rising, exalted, sovereign Jesus Christ who is the death-proof, fail-proof King of kings before all things and in all things and holding all things together as he sustains the world by the mere word of his power, the ones whose hearts are opened by the Spirit to be won to Christ will be irrevocably changed. Numbness will be the exception, rather than the norm. We will not have to lead them through hoops of creative entertainment, constantly hamstrung by the limits of our artistic brainstorming sessions, seeking to keep their attentions stirred by a well-composed aesthetic this or that.