Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Getting, not Grasping

Today's reflection on the Daily Texts:

In God’s hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. - Psalm 95:4

The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands. - Acts 17:24

Two-year reading texts: Psalm 116:1-7; 1 Samuel 24:1-25:17; John 5:16-30

Today's texts make me think about what's in human hands, and what's in God's hands. Paul's visit and speech in Athens, told in Acts 17, give a great example of how we think about these things. With shrines and statues and idols all around, Paul could easily see that the people of Athens were spiritual people. His goal was to get them to see in a new way their objects of worship made with human hands, and to point them instead to one true living God who requires nothing from humans, but instead holds the whole world in hand and provides everything we need for life.

There are limits to what we humans can grasp, both literally in our hands, and metaphorically with our minds. We can see by what God pours into the world, grace and life and strength and truth and beauty and meaning, that we have been given some kind of connection with each other, with the world, and beyond. But we don't have the capacity to fully grasp it. Every attempt we make to describe our relationship with God falls short, whether we use adjectives or metaphors or images of any kind. All these things are helpful when they serve their purpose of pointing accurately to God and God's full truth. They fail when we get confused and start thinking we have fully grasped God by focusing on them.

Instead of trying to grasp what's beyond our limits, Paul teaches a simpler, humbler way: Being content with getting instead of grasping. By "getting," I mean receiving, holding our hands openly to accept what God pours out. And I also mean understanding, "getting it" even a little bit, knowing that our ways of describing God are helpful in broadening our perspective on who God is and what God does for us, although they're never able to fully contain God. An attitude of getting can help us remember that God is bigger than we are, has more in mind than we can know, and provides all that we need to be a part of the world as it was created to be.

Thank you, God, for the ways in which you've helped me to "get it" so far. Forgive me for always grasping, trying to hoard what I've been given, or thinking that I've got it all figured out. Keep working on me, and in me, so that I can keep learning and growing. And help me to point toward you as the source of all life and truth and goodness, ready to pour into other lives as well.

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