Behold, as the eyes of servants
look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maid
to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
till he have mercy upon us.
Behold, as the eyes of servants
I suppose every big decision stirs up thoughts about the alternative paths that will have to be given up. Having kids brings up those concerns for most people, I expect. Heather and I talked about this a little last night before falling asleep (before I fell asleep, that is, as I can never last for long once hitting the mattress).
The lure of the many roads not taken is mostly illusion, though, I think. We can dream anything, but the actual possibilities available to us are limited by lots of things. That goes against the cultural mantra that we can be anything we want to be. But most of us see through that lie pretty early in life. There are real choices for us, but not limitless choices.
And, really, as a follower of Jesus, I wonder if the fixation on choosing the path for our life is even appropriate. Isn't that the point of being a "follower"? That we're not deciding the path to take?
Instead of the focus on choosing and then making it happen, it seems our focus should be on listening and then walking through the door opened for us. Not making a life for ourselves, but embracing the life given to us. Given by God, that is. That's not the same as accepting the life ordained for us by our elders or by our society. But looking to God for the opportunities and path that he opens before us, and trusting that our deepest desires are also from God and are meant to find fulfillment on the path he shows us.
Probably the poor and the marginalized in society grasp this more easily than the privileged. They know they cannot live any life they want, no illusions there. And they're often more eager and accepting of opportunities presented to them. Not dismissive, expecting a better offer. In that, they're closer to the kingdom of God.
That's what I think we should be looking for. Not the best life that we can manage to build for ourselves, but the kingdom of God. Looking for the kingdom to be revealed in the opportunities and community that God leads us into, as imperfect as those might look to us. In any case, the kingdom of God is not something we're going to be able to create or even discover by managing our choices correctly. It's definitely going to be a gift, and probably appear (again and again) where we didn't expect to find it.
Doesn't that take the pressure off? The fulfillment of our desires is not going to be in the life we might (one day) assemble for ourselves, but in the life God has been giving to us all along.
"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (Heb 11.1)
I've been thinking about the prophetic experience again. I've written about it before, mostly focusing on the prophetic role in relation to others, how that serves the community. But I think I'm seeing the prophetic experience as an important aspect of my own faith as well.
It's the waiting in faith that I often find so hard. I've written about "waiting on the Lord" many times, as expressions and means of reassurance in that struggle. Often holding to God's promises has been extremely helpful in my waiting. And I'm discovering that God's prophetic words to us are another form of his promises, not just revealing what will happen but assuring us of what God will do. That has been important to me at many crucial moments in my life, when waiting has been especially hard. "The assurance of things hoped for," the prophetic aspect of faith.
Not that we have to know everything that God is doing, or that we have any right to know. But Jesus told his followers, "No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you." (Jn 15.15) That's a gift, an act of grace, God letting us in on what he is doing. And not just in some general, universal sense, but also in the specific circumstances of our own lives. To help us wait, and also perhaps to help us cooperate with what God is doing. Again, this is not something God owes us. But I'm grateful God chooses not to leave his friends in the dark.
Do not put your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no help.
In God, whose word I praise,
in the Lord, whose word I praise,
in God I trust without a fear.
What can man do to me?
(from Psalms 146, 56)
I came across Jesus' trial this morning while reading in Matthew. That version of the story really emphasizes Jesus' silence before the authorities.
I've thought a lot about that silence, and the more experience I have with institutional authorities the more wisdom I see in Jesus' refusal to speak. He undermines their claim to power by refusing to ask them for anything, not help, not mercy. Though most everyone else (including the authorities themselves) see them as important and powerful, Jesus practically ignores them. I think that's a much more powerful challenge than even denouncing them; it shows a complete lack of concern about what they can do.
At times I've responded with silence in similar situations, but I'm usually agitated and struggling inside, which I'm sure is apparent. I guess I need more practice.