control

Ruined {ex10:7}

Photo © Unsplash/Thu Trang Nguyen Tran

Photo © Unsplash/Thu Trang Nguyen Tran

The question Egypt's officials
put to their king
haunts me

How was he so blind
or so stubborn
or so arrogant
that he didn't see how
everything he loved
was slowly crumbling around him

Or did he see

Maybe the problem wasn't
that he didn't know
but that he did

Maybe the problem wasn't
that he thought he wasn't ruined
but knew he was
and thought there was
still a chance

still a way
he could fix it

One more opportunity
one more try
one more day
to start over
to redouble his efforts
to get it right

Maybe the problem wasn't that Pharaoh
didn't know Egypt was ruined
but that he still believed
he could repair the damage

But there is only
One
who can restore

There is only
One
who can rebuild

There is only
One
who can recover
all that has been lost

and it’s not us—

To be ruined
is not the problem

The problem is
we no more want to obey
than Pharaoh did
those two little words
God spoke:

Let. Go.

 

God wants us to go all in.

God wants us to go all in.

1 Kings 19

For those of you who may not be fans of poker, there frequently comes a point when a player will go "all in." That means that he will bet everything he has left because he believes he has the best hand at the table. Everything is on the line. If he has the best hand, he may be in a position to win the whole game. But if he doesn’t have the best hand, he could lose everything.

God is going to sort things out.

God is going to sort things out.

Poor David. Fleeing from Jerusalem, rumors flying around him, and now, being abused by a man from Saul’s family. Not only was the man cursing David, but he was throwing stones and dirt at him and his troops as well. Finally, one of David’s men asked if he could go over and cut the guy’s head off. (What a nonchalant request.) David’s reply was very interesting:

God cannot be managed.

God cannot be managed.

2 SAMUEL 6

Right off the bat, I must confess that I owe a debt of gratitude for the way I look at Uzzah’s story to Eugene Peterson’s insights in his book Leap Over a Wall. If you’d like to read more about the life of David, I highly recommend picking up that book. It helped me see a lot of things in a new way—including the story of Uzzah.

God works in unexpected ways.

God works in unexpected ways.

2 SAMUEL 2

So, now that Saul is dead, it’s time for David to ascend to the throne of Israel, right? He even asks the Lord what the next step is, and the Lord tells him to go to Hebron (vs 1). David has been waiting so long... you can almost sense his relief and enthusiasm as he addresses the men who had been loyal to Saul and praises them for all their service to the Lord’s anointed.

Subtle Slavery {gn47:25}

Photo © Unsplash/R. Martinez

Photo © Unsplash/R. Martinez

Once you’ve traded
freedom
for
security,
it’s nearly impossible
to break out of those
ever-tightening chains.

More and more threats
to your security
are met with
more and more restrictions
on your freedom,
until you’re happy to do
whatever you’re told
whenever you’re told
whatever the cost
as long as
you’re still alive.

That is,
if you can call that
a life.

 

God has the answers.

God has the answers.

JUDGES 21

You might think that’s a funny title to describe a chapter of the Bible in which God never speaks. But, for me, that’s precisely the point, so I thought we’d get right to the point today. Did you notice God’s lack of participation in the dialogue of this chapter? The Israelites were asking a lot of questions, but they never received an answer.

On Acceptance {gn38}

genesis-acceptance-on-acceptance-poem.png

Perhaps Jesus said the Kingdom was for children
because children accept their lot in life.
Often, they don't know any different
and even if they did,
what can they do about it?

Children accept
and try to find ways of being content.

Adults, on the other hand,
have learned    better?
and have trouble accepting
what they don't want or can't understand.

Er wouldn't accept a mantle of morality.

Onan wouldn't accept a surrogate's role.

Judah wouldn't accept the position of widower.

Shelah wouldn't accept his brothers' leftovers.

Tamar wouldn't accept childless singlehood.

It's no wonder, then, that
centuries later,
Mary is called "favored of God"
and chosen as the one
to bear the burden of raising the Savior.
For how many people—
even in the very pages of sacred Scripture—
ever responded
to what they didn't want or couldn't understand
by saying
Let it be to me according to your will?

We so idolize those who
won't acquiesce
refuse to bow down
fight back
stick it to the man
get angry

that we are blind
to the holiness that comes with
accepting the lot we wouldn't choose—
if only it were up to us.

 

On Dying in Childbirth {gn35:16-18}

genesis-sacrifice-on-dying-in-childbirth-poem.png

Rachel is a cautionary tale
for every woman
who dreams of having
a baby.

Rachel is a reminder—
just the first in a long, tragic history of reminders—
that choosing to have a child
is dangerous business.

Having a child can kill you.

.                 .                 .

No, having a child will kill you.

The day you give birth
may not be the last day you draw breath,
but you will, at the very least,
wish you were dead
four hundred times
in the first three months alone.

And though you may not realize it immediately,
the woman you were
before that first peculiar cry cleaved the air
is dead and gone—
she will not be seen again.

The woman who emerges in her place
will have a different sort of heart,
one that is permanently divided—
half of it still inside,
half of it rolling, then crawling, then walking around on two legs,
forever on the outside.

She will have a different sort of heart,
one that can be irreparably ruptured by the beautiful moments
     as well as the ugly ones,
one that is no longer impervious to indifference or animus,
one that is no longer her own.

Choosing to have a child is dangerous business.

To make a child in your own image
is to relinquish control of your heart to another being
who may or may not
cherish it.

To make a child in your own image
is to abandon personal rights
for the hope of relationship.

To make a child in your own image
is the genesis of unending sacrifice.

Just ask Rachel.

.                 .                 .

Or God.

 

God wants every part of us.

God wants every part of us.

JOSHUA 7

There is a term in this chapter of Joshua that keeps popping up in the Old Testament—something that I have a lot of questions about. It is the Hebrew word charam. In many Bible versions, when a text includes this word, there will be a footnote at the bottom to explain that "The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them." In the Hebrew lexicon, the word can mean to consecrate, to devote, to forfeit, to utterly destroy.

Jacob's If-fy Reply {gn28:20}

Photo © Unsplash/Yoann Boyer

Photo © Unsplash/Yoann Boyer

God said
I am your God, and I am with you.

Jacob replied
If God will be with me, then he will be my God.

This, this!
is the human problem—

Always adding doubt to God's steadfast recipes.
Always placing conditions on God's unconditional offers.
Always suggesting a coalitional approach to God's unilateral operations.

 

On Not Controlling Outcomes {gn12:11-13}

Photo © Unsplash/Denys Nevozhai

Photo © Unsplash/Denys Nevozhai

You promised Abraham blessings galore,
Progeny more than the sand on the shore.
Still, he was worried he might come across
Someone with power to turn gain to loss.
So he embarked on a self-serving plan:
Impersonating an unmarried man.

I know I'm prone to a similar skew,
Trying to pull off what you said you'd do.
It shouldn't matter if life remains rough.
All of your promises should be enough.
I should be willing to stay on my knees
And let you work out your plan as you please.

Help me to trust you beyond what I see
And not to fear what the outcome will be.

 

Sonnet: A poem consisting of 14 lines with a particular rhyming scheme.

God cannot be manipulated.

God cannot be manipulated.

EXODUS 10

I know I’ve read the stories of the plagues in detail at least a dozen times in my adult life. But as I write these daily blogs, I am once again struck by Pharaoh’s audacity. Once again, in chapter 10, it’s his officials who are trying to talk some sense into him: "Pharaoh’s officials said to him, 'How long will this man be a snare to us? Let the people go, so that they may worship the Lord their God. Do you not yet realize that Egypt is ruined?'" (vs 7)