Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Prototype Problem

It’s a rainy day. Or, as my husband says, “it’s a nice day to be a duck”.

What it is about rainy days and “should be”?

There is something about the grey, the damp, and the howling wind that makes people unstable. And when people feel unstable, at least in my experience and observation, we tend to look for models of security. We begin to demand that things make sense rather than facing the uncertainties of our life.

I’m speaking more, I think, to emotional and spiritual uncertainty. Questions like whether or not our lives have meaning after all, what we have to hope for anyway, and so on. There arise those unwanted, uncomfortable feelings of being lost, if not lost for eternity, than at least lost in much of what this life seems to be.

Desperate to get a grip, I think many of us in our uncertainties seek a prototype. We look for a prototype of God. A prototype of self. A prototype of daily life. It seems we’re looking to escape the difficulty of relying wholly on our Savior and the Spirit’s work in order to live under the false pretense that everything is in order, in an order that we can comprehend.

Instead of seeking the Lord, we seek simply Adonai, the father figure God. Or perhaps God as our protector. Maybe we look for the Jesus who identifies with us because once He was a man and was tempted too. A controlled idea of God is what we desire.

As for ourselves, we begin to analyze. Some of us are more critical, seeing ourselves as selfish, hopeless sinners who can’t deserve anything at all. We mourn and grieve our sins and punish ourselves for being so human. Others take refuge in the goodness of their deeds and seek to self-justify. Whatever defines us, we're just glad to be understood.

And then there are our lives. Our jobs, our responsibilities, and the expectations placed on us. Lists develop, miles long, of our failures or our successes. We compare these lists, and ourselves, and our relationship with God, to others. We edit and rewrite our versions of God, of ourselves, and of our life-lists to mirror the prototypes that look like the best investments.

So it goes on. Over and over. If we stop to think about it, it seems a little silly. Isn’t this a child’s game? Don’t children get freaked out over this stuff, and grown-ups have it all figured out? You eat, you work, you sleep, you chat, you watch TV, the end. Don’t do bad stuff. Be a good person. Life can’t be that hard, it can’t be as complicated as our feelings and ideas make it out to be.

Good news! It isn’t. The truth is simple.

                God is God. He isn’t made in our image. Phil 2:7.
 He doesn’t play “good cop, bad cop” with us, revealing only certain versions of Himself at particular times. He has always been at work, has never changed, and lives up to all that He claims to be. Heb 6:17, Heb 13:8, Psalm 100:5, Rom 1:20.
His records are perfect, there is no detail glossed over or misinterpreted. Psalm 37:23, Psalm 139, Isaiah 40.
The Lord is not a prototype. He is alive. His Word and Spirit are living. And He is who He says is. John 14:26, Hebrews 4:12, Exodus 3:14.

                We are who He says we are.  Sinners, saved by grace through repentance and faith in the our Savior. Romans 3:23, Ephesians 2:8.

Further, we have been redeemed and adopted as God’s own children. We face His loving discipline, as He is our Father, and we know that we will are rewarded by inheriting eternity with Him. Galatians 4:7, Hebrews 12:7, Romans 8:17.

Our hope is in Him, and we can live before our Lord in all confidence because of His mercy and grace. 1 Tim1:1, Psalm 62, Heb 4:16.

                Our lives are in His hands. We can be anxious for absolutely nothing, because He always provides sufficiently. Psalm 31, Matt 6.

                It’s alright for us to not know. And to not worry about what happens or what we gain or what other’s lives seem to be like. To be with Him is everything! Psalm 73, Isaiah 55, Proverbs 19:21, Jeremiah 9:24.
                Enough with the prototype problem. There is no “should be” that our Lord has not (past, present, and future) considered and covered. Life is not an equation that we have to plug the right stuff into to get good results. God is not a concept. We are not set in stone. Life is not a neat little story. He is living, He gives us new life, and it is a life without end.

                Praise the Lord that we don’t have to worry about what we don’t know, or what we can’t do, or any of the stuff that attempts to convince us that we are actually lost. We know exactly Who we need to, and He is sufficient!         
                 Colin Smith says it well when He explains what the true faith that we rely on is:

“Christian faith does not rest on our feelings, it does not rest on our insights, it doesn’t rest on our interpretations, Christian faith rests on God’s explanation of His own actions, revealed to us and recorded for us in the Scriptures. He has risen. Who says so? God says so! And you can stake your life and your eternity on that.” –Colin Smith, Unlocking the Bible, “Jesus Offers Life to His People”, April 16, 2014.

                Psalm 23 reminds us that, in all circumstances, on all days, He is with us, and we have nothing to fear. Not even uncertainties and insecurities.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

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