We’re exploring the images of God in images. We’ll reflect on the metaphors God’s given us to understand who he is.
Jesus sat with his friends, enjoying a meal, conversation, maybe a little laughter. Suddenly, surprisingly, he did something no one in the room expected. He got up from the table, knelt on the floor and washed his friends’ filthy feet.
Imagine the scene. How would you have felt? What would you have thought?
Later, Jesus added words – powerful, perception altering words. Words that helped his friends understand the meaning of his actions. Words that corresponded with the service he’d given.
Would they have understood without the words? Or would they have internalized his intent without his action?
Every day Jesus-followers, normal people, pick up the basin and towel in a thousand different ways. We visit neighbors in hospitals, write checks to alleviate suffering, help children with homework, prepare meals for loved ones, carry boxes for friends, and more. Our small acts of service speak honest, generous truth. We reveal with our hands the character and purposes of God to those whom we serve.
You are earth-made-god-like, created, celebrated, rejoiced over – child of the living God.
Ah, to breathe God’s joy in our creation. “Good.” He says. “Very good.” I will hold this truth, God’s broad smile, his tender song, his gentle dance, until my soul rests as a weaned child on my mother’s breast. We, you and I, a moment upon the long course of history are each precious, beautiful, shining in the sun. Tender and deeply loved, our hearts beat with life and promise and hope.
Oh, would that we could walk in this truth every moment of our lives!
The thing is, we live, breathe, choose and act among helpful and hindering forces. It’s like we’re walking through shifting weather patterns. For a while, it’s sunny and warm. Then the sky darkens, pouring rain so thick all we can do is hang on for dear life.
I have my own storms, the forces that hinder my forward progress. I’m thinking you might, too. The most effective are those carefully crafted to strike me in my weaknesses and wounds.
I thought eventually I’d be immune to such interfering strategies. And maybe, someday, I will be. Sadly, and truthfully, I’m not there yet. So for now, it helps me to know the weapons most effective at bringing me down.
The thing is, as much as I want to tune in and notice all God is within me, I face obstacles. I’m busy. The world within and around me is noisy. I’m steeped in ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’, wrapped in templates of right thinking and behavior. Sometimes, my life is on autopilot, flying a clear, direct course, oblivious to the beautiful mountains towering around me, the sunset blazing in the distance. Sometimes I’m traveling in a driver-less vehicle, missing invitations to picnics down dusty roads.
A guy had a vision. It didn’t work out exactly as he saw it, but it was good enough to move him in a very fruitful direction. Another time, he just had a strong sense within himself that he wanted to do something in particular. The godly voices in his life told him his idea was utter foolishness. They warned him against it. In many ways, they were right. His decision led him into chaos. Nonetheless, he took it, and as he was walking through it, God confirmed his choice through a message spoken into his spirit. By the end of his journey, it turned out that his “foolish” decision was exceedingly fruitful.
Most of us want to know God’s will.
Paul the apostle began his life’s journey as a child of two parents whose names are lost to us. He grew in what was very likely a deeply religious home. He undoubtedly learned the tenets of his faith from his parents and extended family. At some point, he studied Torah and discovered both interest and capacity to learn. Later, he became a student of Gamaliel and took his place among the Pharisees; the religious leaders and teachers of his time. After the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, Paul encountered the preaching of Jesus’s followers and became a zealot, persecuting those he saw as heretics in defense of traditional Judaism. Eventually, he met Jesus on the Damascus Road and the trajectory of his life was forever changed.
Was God moving in Paul’s life before Paul encountered Jesus on that road?