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Stuck in Traffic

Theologically, I embrace mess as the reality of a life truly being transformed by Grace.  But practically, I don’t care for it at all.  If I get in the car, for example, I like to know where I am headed and the most efficient way to get there, which means minimal traffic and shortest route.  I really don’t want to get lost or take the road with only one lane opened because of construction or be sent on a detour.  Such delays are frustrating and not only add to the soreness in my seat but grow the anxiety in my chest.

Now, take that image and set my car on practically empty in one of those small towns on the way to the beach, but remove the “on the way to the beach” part.  That is the setting of my internal life these days.  And my internal response?  It is perhaps like one plagued with severe anemia.  There is still some anger as an indicator of life within, but the will to fight – or even the object of my fury – is unclear and almost imperceptible.

Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust  in you, even at my mother’s breast.  From birth I was cast on you;  from my mother’s womb you have been my God.   Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.  Many bulls surround me;  strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.  Roaring lions that tear their prey open their mouths wide against me.  I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.  My heart has turned to wax;  it has melted within me.  My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.  Psalm 22:9-15

I suppose the Psalmist are more honest in admitting that my only real foe is God.  He is the One who created me, drew me to Himself, caused me to trust Him and has told me what to believe about Him.  Had I never known Him, had I never believed in the wild possibilities of His Kingdom and His reign, I would never have felt the dissonance of a world in need of all He promises.  Had I never believed, His silence and absence wouldn’t feel so utterly empty.

This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.  Acts. 2:23

The wicked men did a wicked thing, and yet they and their actions were ordained deliberately by God to accomplish His GOOD will.  So, on one hand, I suppose that is comforting in the fact that even wicked people can’t thwart God’s redemptive purposes.  The bad news, particularly for Jesus in the case mentioned above, is that for God’s good and redemptive plan, they accomplished their cruel and painful punishment of Jesus.  So can we be angry at the instruments of God’s work, may we be angry at God for choosing to redeem through suffering, or do we respond in some totally other manner?  Delight?  I don’t think so because that would be tantamount to denial.  Not my will but yours be done?  I guess.

Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.  Matt. 26:38a

Take this cup from me, Jesus prayed with a sorrowfully overwhelmed soul.  Few people know that kind of anguish, yet most of us ask for “this cup” to be taken away.  How do we continue walking through the valley of the shadow of death, even when the shadows are entirely confined to our inner-experience?

But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;                                                                                                      and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.                                                                   When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.                          For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;  Is. 43:1-3a

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