Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Grace Is Not Proportional

Is it summer? Is it fall? Is it monsoon season?

We've had quite the change in weather the last few weeks. Don't get me wrong, I love a good hot summer day...but you know, I don't need to be sweating all day long to enjoy a day. These faux-fall days have been so refreshing. I'm not ready for fall just yet, but not being stuck in an oppressive sweat box (aka my apartment) has been really nice.

I'm still working on the Job stuff for you guys, but until I get there, I finally finished the book of Numbers! I never thought I'd be excited to say that. And it's not just because I'm glad to be done with it! It was tedious and long; it was also the first book I picked up a commentary for. And can I make a suggestion? Grab a commentary when you need one! Even if you don't agree with everything or even if you don't read the commentary entirely, it is super helpful to have another set of eyes when you are going over a confusing passage.

The more I read the Old Testament, the more I learn about God. I heard a Village pastor say that we need to change our approach if our main reason for reading the Bible isn't to meet God. That is why the Bible exists: to teach us about God. I am struck by the grace of God, even when Israel is disobedient. The entire book of Numbers up until Chapter 14 is about the Israelite's traveling to the land that God had promised them. We see rebellion and obedience, sometimes in the space of a chapter. And then, there they are! The edge of the promise land. The spies go into the land and bring back a report: "The land is rich, yes. But the people are powerful and huge. We look like grasshoppers to them! We can't attack them!"  Ten of the twelve explorers forgot that God delivered them from slavery and helped them cross the sea floor (while the Egyptians, their former masters, were thrown into the same sea to drown). They forgot that God fed them from nothing in the desert and gave them water from a rock. Their powerful God has provided for them time after time, but even when God tells them that he will give them the land, they get the heebie jeebies and run away scared.

God gives this rant about them, but nestled in Numbers 14 there is this beautiful verse: The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished.

Even in their disobedience, of which the consequence is not being able to enter the promise land, God wants to tell them that he is slow to anger and abounding in love. He could have wiped them out then and there, but he didn't. He could have wiped them out countless times before and after this event. One of the reasons he didn't? Moses prayed for them. It is shocking to me how many times Moses prays for his people, the people who complained non-stop through the desert, the people who complained that they would rather be back in Egypt as slaves than be stuck here in the desert "starving." He prays to God for those people. For those stiff necked disobedient people.
The other shocker? God actually listens.

There is still a consequence for their sin, but God let them live. They had feasts; they sacrificed at the Tent of Meeting. They got married, had babies. God continued to provide for them in the desert. He protected them when the elders of Moab and Midian sought out Balaam the seer to curse all of Israel. He made them successful when they went to war against the Midianites. The Israelites lived. For as long as they lived, they saw the faithfulness of God. How's that for a legacy? Their children learned from an early age that God was faithful and forgiving, but also very serious about obedience. Walter Riggans, the author of the commentary I read, put it this way: At heart [God] is gracious, but he is not to be played with.

God is faithful even when we are not. I almost want to say "especially when we are not." I think sometimes when we drop the ball or mess up, we expect others to treat us a certain way based on our failure. But God doesn't make proportional responses to our failure. He is faithful to his people because he made a covenant long before Moses was born. He is a God of his word, trustworthy in all things. His faithfulness has nothing to do with our failure but everything to do with his character.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The facts were these...

Oooff. 

Did January the last few months absolutely drain anyone else? I have been working on this post since mid to late February. Clearly, I did a great job with it.

This semester started off kinda rough. Lots of students forgot lots of things. Like how to use a library. It was a bit of an adventure helping students back on the straight and narrow, but I think we got there eventually. Semester ended last week, so things are starting to calm down a little bit. A handful of "my kids" graduated last weekend, including a two of my student workers. It was such a great moment for me to see them walk across that stage after four (or five) years of hard work. 

Life slowly returns to normal, whatever that is anymore. 

The end of January brought some emotional upheaval for me. Things are getting better every day, but man. It has been hard. (And yes, this one is still true almost four months later. Healing is a process.)

So, of course, I started reading the book of Job. 

I had a dear friend joke about how "uplifting" the book is and, lovingly, poke fun at my choice. I was afraid she was going to be right, but still, I pressed on. It was next, chronologically, in my reading plan anyway. Might as well just carry on.  

I think we all probably know the story of Job. Dude with seemingly the worst luck in the universe loses his family, his house, his possessions--eventually even his health-- all in the course of a single day. He and his friends sit around for like, 30 plus chapters, talking about all the terrible things that had happened, how God would only punish a sinner, not a righteous man like Job. Not the friends I would want with me during a terrible time in my life. Finally, and miraculously, God steps in and has a dialog with Job. Because of a lot of things, (Job's righteousness and love and devotion to God being part of it), God restores Job's fortune to him, double what he had at the beginning of the story.  

To be honest, I don't think I've ever read this book in its entirety. Sure, you grab the beginning and the end. That's where the meat of the story is if you are going to teach it in a classroom. But the stuff in between? Honestly, y'all, it blew my mind.


I hope to share some of that with you in the months to come. I've since worked my way through Exodus and Leviticus, and Habakkuk. It has been slow going, but in all of it, I still see God providing for his people, in all things. And through the semester and personal ups and downs of life, that has been an altogether encouraging thing to read. 


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Happy *cough* New Year! (Achooo!)

Happy New Year friends! 
At the risk of sounding ancient, the more years I see, the faster they seem to roll by me. It seems impossible that it is 2017. Anyone else? 

Of course, I started the new year with a bang: sinus cold! I've been fighting something ugly for the past two weeks now and I have to say, I'm ready for it all to be over. I'm finally on the uptick I think. I hope. My house is a sea of tissues and half empty water glasses. My almost two weeks of vacation was spent putting a Laura-sized divot in the couch and finishing a few TV shows. Not all bad, but now that I'm finally starting to feel better, it is time to join the land of the living...and get to cleaning up the house. (And eventually back to running? I mean UGH but also, do I miss it? Mostly no. But a little yes, too.)

Christmas holidays weren't all bad of course, just intensely busy. Little and Big Sister (husbands and kids) were all able to come home for Christmas. It was loud, it was crazy, it was hilarious and I wish we could have had more time together. 

Guys. I finished that sweater that I've been working on for almost two years! I've already gifted it but I'll see if I can snag some pictures of it and share them with you. Without a big project like that in the background, I'm feeling a little ... sad? But it won't last for long because I'm working with a friend to make a blanket for her living room sofa. It involves a lot of math (that she does mostly. Thankfully.) and counting rows and such (that's mine). The exciting thing about it, though, is that it is something she and I designed together. The first time I'm truly working a large project with a self-designed pattern. I'm nervous but excited to see how it will turn out. I finished a bunch of other projects for Christmas presents and such, so I'm a little in-between knitting adventures. With the freezing weather we've been having lately, I have been in the mood to knit a warm hat for myself. I'm also halfway through a fingerless glove pattern, which besides the blanket, is my only current work in progress. It is a challenge with cables, so I'm in love. The biggest challenge is going to be adding thumbs to it. And well, I've never done that before and it is incredibly daunting. 

I keep track of my reading over at Scattered Wits, but if you were following, I didn't meet my reading goal last year. And I'm honestly doing okay with that. Yes, I was bummed. (Maybe more like a lot.) But one of the reasons I didn't finish was because the larger reading project I had going was reading through the New Testament in a year. That one? Yeah, that one I finished. It has taught me so much about Jesus and the way he asks his followers to live that it felt like I was learning about him for the first time. And Paul's letters have to be some of my favorite books in the New Testament. So this year, I reduced my reading challenge by half and will try to make it through the Old Testament. So that's my biggest challenge this year. I mean, besides the thumbs. 

We've had two snows so far this year. If I hadn't been sick and partially unable to breathe, I was seriously considering a snow walk. I've always wanted to do one of those. We had a light dusting today and there is a call for freezing rain tonight. The weather continues to be frightful, but it is off to work for me. (In the whole "being sick for two weeks," I haven't been cooking too much. Dinner tonight will be very interesting...)

A brand new year with so many new things to come. Some of them are planned. Most of them? Probably not. This year feels like a good year to be extra hopeful, to keep my eyes open and heart ready for whatever happens. New adventures. New friends. More old friends. More life. More joy. 

Once more onto the breach, dear friends, once more.