Posts Tagged ‘Life’

Drought-Tolerant Faith?

 

Scorched trees near Bastrop, TX affected by drought-related wildfires of 2011 with dying grass affected by current drought.

Scorched trees near Bastrop, TX affected by drought-related wildfires of 2011 with dying grass affected by current drought.

I got to preach again last weekend, and although I was the one coming in to bring the word, I had an important word imparted to me about our present drought in Texas.

Now, you have to know that the summer before we moved here there was a terrible drought in the area. Livestock herds could not be maintained. Wildfires swept through the area. Even though we weren’t living here at the time, I’ve heard stories and seen pictures.

Growing up in Ohio, we had drought, but I didn’t understand the meaning of drought until I learned of what they went through down here.

It has had me scared, really. We’ve been behind on precipitation and have been under “burn bans” a good deal of the time we’ve lived here.

I’ve worried and wondered, what if it gets like it was back before we moved here?

Things were looking up over the summer. No burn bans meant I’ve had lots of my backyard campfires which I love. (Apparently according to a quiz I took online, my subconscious is obsessed with nature, so my urge for backyard campfires makes sense.)

But rain has not been coming and we are back under a burn ban…and inconveniently that means no more backyard fires…but more seriously, it has rekindled my worry.

When I was at church on Sunday (one of two churches I preached at that day), I made small talk before the service, “Have y’all gotten any rain yet up this way?” (I mean, the weather is always a good topic for small talk, right?)

But no, there hadn’t been much to speak of up that way. The next statement schooled me, “I guess we don’t need it. We think we do but I guess we really don’t.”

What could I say?

I wasn’t personally convinced, but I learned a long time ago not to argue with other people in how they size up a crisis they’re experiencing firsthand.

But then, after the service was over, I had a similar conversation with another person who said nearly the same thing: We think we need the rain. But we must not need it.

And I’m a little slow, so it took me hearing it twice over the course of that morning for it to have its full impact.

If it would have just been the one person who said it, I could have dismissed it. I mean, we need the rain because life and crops and all rely on it! And what is God thinking not providing rain when we need it? That’s sweet to let God off the hook like all that, but I expect a bit more from The Almighty!

But when the same sentiment was spoken twice, and both times it was spoken by people who lived through the major drought what with livestock and forests in danger and all…

Perhaps they knew something, they discerned something that I was missing.

In my fear and worry about the devastation I knew the last drought caused…and I had to face it, with my irritation about not being able to have my backyard fires…well, I was missing the really big picture.

But they knew better.

They knew to wait patiently, to trust that what we really need isn’t always what we think we need or what we fret about.

And my own worry and fear were once again exposed. Oh Lord, how many times must I need reminded of your provision? Of your goodness? Of your faithfulness despite what seems impossible?

In this way, I was among those who received a word that day I preached. Oh Lord, give me a drought-tolerant faith like theirs.

No Other God is Able to Deliver in This Way – Resurrection Day Reflection

409px-Simeon_Solomon_-_Shadrach_Meshach_Abednego

I’ve shared before that I love the vigil on Holy Saturday (the night before resurrection day). But one of my mostest favoritest parts of the vigil is the reading of the story of Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego and their deliverance from the fiery furnace. If you haven’t read the story lately, it is well worth looking up in your Bible in Daniel 3:1-29 or you can read it online now at Bible Gateway.

The gist of it is that King Nebuchadnezzar wants everyone to worship a golden statue that he has set up and if they don’t he’s going to throw them in a “furnace of blazing fire,” which, of course, would mean death. But three young Hebrew men, Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego serve only one God and refuse to worship the king’s statue.

Their defiance of the king gets him so mad that “his face is distorted” and he orders the furnace to be turned up seven times hotter! He has the three men bound and thrown in. The handlers that throw them in get killed by the flames because the furnace is so hot.

But when the king looks into the furnace he sees four men: Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and another with appearance of a god, moving around, unbound, clearly still alive. The king is astonished and orders these “servant of The Most High God” to come out of the furnace.

Nebuchadnezzar recognizes that this God that Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego worships has saved them from what should have been certain death. He then makes a decree that no one should blaspheme against the God of Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego because “there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.”

And indeed, it is this Most High God, with the power to defy death, that we worship.

But in the work of Jesus, God did not simply sidestep death, God went all the way through it. What this means, as my theology professor, Dr. David Truemper used to say, is there is now no part of our human experience that God has not personally gone through. And not only that, but he conquered death once and for all in the resurrection.

There is no other God who is able to deliver in the way that Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior has done for us.

Thanks be to The Most High God for the victory of Jesus’ resurrection!