Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Dawn of Confusion

Today's reflection on the Daily Texts:

I will not let you go, unless you bless me. - Genesis 32:26

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving. - Colossians 4:2

Two-year reading texts: Psalm 138:1-5; 1 Kings 21:17-22:28; John 19:38-20:9

When we give some thought to life with our God who is infinitely greater than us and whose ways are not our ways, it shouldn't be surprising - but in the moment of an encounter with God, we seem to be caught off guard and disturbed by the natural confusion of trying to catch up with what God is doing! Today's scriptures speak to me of all kinds of early encounters with God, where we wrestle with comprehending before appreciating the moment. Jacob at the river, the Christians at Colossae trying to make sense of their time, David contemplating the place of divinity and royalty, Ahab and the prophets around him working to discern God's will, the first disciples struck by confusion early on Easter morning - all experience a time of confusion and uncertainty that would eventually clarify God's action and God's direction for them.

It really does make sense that God, who has created the universe and patiently worked in it for love and life for billions of years, would often be at work in ways we can't see or understand. Even though God seeks what's best for us, we can't hope to get a complete grasp of what God is up to. In fact, the very decisions we make in our own lives, for better or for worse, get taken up and woven into God's tapestry of existence in ways we can't foresee. So shouldn't we ought to just expect that whenever we notice God's presence, we'll have some degree of confusion and uncertainty?

And yet, over and over again, we're bothered that we can't figure things out. We wrestle. We make demands. We try to have things our way. We get offended when we try to bend the universe around our will, inevitably learning (or re-learning) that it's our lives that suffer. We worry ourselves needlessly over things that are never going to be within our control.

It might be that on certain days, this realization could strike me as sad, tragic, hopeless. Today, I happen to find it amusing and encouraging. God's people have always coped with confusion and uncertainty, even while God is rolling out the most amazing, beneficial, world-changing events of their lifetimes. This is not to say that life is always easy or comfortable, or that we should be complacent when people are suffering. It just normalizes for me that in the quest to live the best life and follow God's will as closely as possible in our individual situations, we usually don't get clarity and comprehension. We get confusion, uncertainty, disturbance, and a drive to wrestle, to seek, to go deeper.

Faith doesn't instantly resolve all these difficulties. But faith is what leads us to continue, trusting that somewhere in the dimness, God is coming with light that will grow brighter and show us the way.

In our own lives, when the first rays of God's action are dawning with confusion instead of clarity, may we remember that this is how it often works for us human beings. May we trust, and keep looking, and wrestling, and living in God's light.

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