So, as I reported awhile back I am going back to blogging. But, since with the Lord a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day, the time frame on that is, well . . . let’s call it flexible.
But I thought I would share something today that I hope is helpful. It’s a quote from Larry Crabb, sorry I don’t remember which book – I know it’s got to be from at least 10 years ago –
The goal is that God be glorified in us, not useful to us.
That sums up my life. I think that sums up much of the Scripture and I think it sums up where we go wrong in so many ways. I just can’t figure God out. I can’t figure out why I can have one day that is so good I feel like I must be cured and then go for weeks without wanting to get out of bed. I can’t understand why I, as His beloved child, am following pretty much the standard path of the cancer sufferer – doing good for awhile, the cancer abates when I’m on chemo and grows when I’m not. My life pattern is one where, in order to keep the cancer in abeyance, i. e. keep it from killing me soon, I have to live a life of basic illness from chemo. I can go off chemo and start feeling a little better for a time but then the cancer grows and death looks closer.
A friend told me tonight that someone told him the covenant promises of God stand for the believer – obey and God will bless, He will cause your kids to follow Christ, and will prosper you financially and otherwise. I’ve heard basically the same thing about health. My friend is also going through some very difficult long term trials and he didn’t think this person understood the covenant promises of God anymore than I do.
If this is the case, if the O. T. covenant promises stand as literally stated then how do you explain the cross of Christ. If the cross removed the curse then why do the all time top 12 of the Christian faith not have lives that conformed to the pattern of blessing – why were the most obedient tortured and subject to horrible rejection and death.
For the record I am staking my life on the hope of the covenant promises, but I believe their final fulfillment comes in the age to come. For now I can only conclude that the life of a faithful believer is one of pain, suffering and confusion. This doesn’t mean it’s one without joy and contentment, and I don’t mean to say that my life is without joy and contentment. There are times these days when I know greater joys than I ever did before cancer. But I’m also far more confused and disoriented than ever.
That’s why I like Larry Crabb’s quote. I think it conforms to the theology of the cross. The theology of the cross tells us that God’s ways are hidden to us. The theology of the cross also conforms to the Holy Spirit. The fundamental aspect of the Holy Spirit is that we can’t know what He is doing according to John 3:8.
I think much of our confusion and disorientation in life comes from the desire to find God useful to us. Job’s counselors’ mistakes were in thinking they understood the ways of God with man, and of course the corollary to that is that they then felt compelled to express their (mis)understanding.
God is always glorified, we just can’t see how. God is not useful to us because our agendas aren’t His. I really don’t think as a Christian that I’ve been equipped to live in a world where God is not useful to us, and where His ways are incomprehensible. I think the only people who know this and can pass it along are the old school Presbyterians and Lutherans whom we evangelicals rejected in favor of church growth long ago. Oh yeah, I think all of those old people we put out to pasture because they stood in the way of our passions, visions and missions probably could tell us a thing or two. And as always, a good deal of my mud slinging in this paragraph is driven by guilt over my own neglect of the wisdom of old school Presbyterians and Lutherans and little old ladies and men who like hymns whom I discarded in my quest to become the next great “leader.”
We have Jesus in the theology of the cross that is communicated to us in the preaching of the Word and sacraments. He’s not all that “useful” to great visionary leaders, but He is sufficient and will be glorified, we just won’t necessarily to see it.