Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Band Played On

The former things I declared of old; they went out from my mouth and I announced them; then suddenly I did them and they came to pass.  Because I know that you are obstinate, and your neck is an iron sinew and your forehead brass, I declared them to you from of old, before they came to pass I announced them to you, lest you should say, ‘My idol did them, my carved image and my metal image commanded them.’

You have heard; now see all this; and will you not declare it?  From this time forth I announce to you new things, hidden things that you have not known.  They are created now, not long ago; before today you have never heard of them, lest you should say, ‘Behold, I knew them.’  

You have never heard, you have never known, from of old your ear has not been opened.  For I knew that you would surely deal  treacherously, and that from before birth you were called a rebel.  Isaiah 48:3-8

The words of the patriarchs, of Moses and the prophets that followed undermined the denials of idolaters, scorners, and skeptics.  Things do not just happen.  As Rick said over on One Cosmos, it seems like a setup because, in a way, it is.  Certainly God can step into someone’s life – e.g., Saul of Tarsus – and take over because a particular person or situation is needed for a course correction.  Yet, if Saul had remained obstinate in the face of seeing the Lord, if he had insisted that he had gotten hold of some bad mushrooms, he could have.  But the Lord knew that he would not. 

You don’t have to be God or have a locked down deterministic universe to predict how your spouse or one of your kids or your best friend will react in a certain situation.  How hard do we think it is for the omnipotent, omniscient Creator of heaven and earth to figure out how to get something done?  God can deal with our free will and our individual choices. 

In His dealing with Israel, going all the way back to Abraham, we see God speaking beforehand.  We might think of it as the Lord establishing His credentials, proving time and again that He and He alone is the Real Thing.  If we look at the narrative flow going through the Law and the Prophets, we can see the winnowing that takes place from Abraham to Christ.  God did indeed make of Abraham a great nation in order to isolate one line and, ultimately, one single little girl in order to bring about the salvation of all humanity. 

I’m editing the MOTT chapter on “The Force” which is timely for Christmas since it deals primarily with virginity and the Virgin Mary.  Even if some of us might think that Roman Catholicism goes too far in veneration of the Blessed Virgin, Protestantism doesn’t go far enough.  What a supremely wondrous person Mary must be, and must have been prior to her acceptance of that destiny.  

Think of the millions who lived and died between the single points of Abraham and Mary, one opening out to myriad possibilities only to narrow, refine, and fine-tune back down to one individual strand.  We can see God as the Composer of a vast, complex symphony, every note and movement set down and meticulously charted from the all-seeing, all-knowing perspective of eternity. 

I see Him more as the Master Composer who also conducts and plays – you know, Three in One --  knowing where He wants the music to go, knowing the themes, able to incorporate discords and faults into the ultimate beauty of this glorious composition.  Now, I am no musician and know nothing about music beyond playing, very poorly, a few chords on a guitar.  But if I did play some instrument really well and understood music composition and all that, I might be able to jam with the band. 

Well, that’s what life is.  It’s not that hard to find out the general way we are supposed to play it – do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.  We can find our niche and tune up to fit in with the current movement, to play according to the grace that has been given us.  We study the Word, we pray, we give God space and control in our lives that He may use our obedience to counter and correct the disharmonies of those who go their own way and play their own sad tunes.  Maybe they will hear at last our Ode to Joy and decide to join the band.   

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