Jan 21, 2010

God's Mysterious Will

I am beginning to believe that the debate between scholars such as John Piper and Gregory Boyd, regarding the definition of God's will, will never be concluded in this life. Perhaps that is the fundamental idea that all Christians must acknowledge: that we will never fully comprehend what God's will actually is. How many lives have been turned away from the Church because it members value certain theological doctrines more than relationship? Perhaps YHWH is less interested in our understanding of every facet of His "I am"-ness, but more interested in our active relationship with Him. Do a husband and wife ever come to a point where they know and understand everything about each other? As a young single adult, I cannot really answer that; but I imagine that there are unsolved mysterious at the end of their lives. But is not the essential purpose of marriage less about complete understanding of one another and more about complete love of one another (and the heavy load that Love entails—embodied by God—which itself bears untold mysteries)? Love in part seems to be about surrender our need to fully understand; that we will serve one another no matter our limitations.

Anyway, I believe Ed Gungor's article, "God's Mysterious Will", provides some valuable insights to reflect upon. (Note: if you are interested in knowing more about Gungor, you can visit www.edgungor.com. I always believe that it is helpful to know a little about the author). I believe that, perhaps more than anything else I have ever read, Gugnor presents a very tactful outline for us to begin understanding God’s will as comprised of: 1. His sovereign will, 2. His pursued will, and 3. His challenged will.

I challenge everyone, including myself, to engage with such thoughts with open minds. Other theologians aside, there is validity in his Scriptural assessment (at least from my own reading of the Word). Surely, others will interpret such passages differently because they already think they understand what is really true. Thus, I challenge us all to read and re-read carefully; to really examine the Scriptures with humble and open attentiveness to the Holy Spirit's stirring.

I am sure there is much more that could be written, but I would probably have to address every single aspect of theology to adequately do so. I do not have that kind of energy. Besides, in a way, I do not think our understanding of Truth is as important as our attempts to actually live according to Truth every day. Please know that I believe that understanding is very important. The writers of Proverbs often speak of the value of both knowledge and wisdom. I begin to think that wisdom ultimately comes from the Holy Spirit. Thus, we must faithfully pursue both. But amidst that journey we must also live as best and graciously as we can with the maturing knowledge and understanding that we have, as well as the awareness that we will never fully know and understand everything (i.e. be perfect). Praise God for His grace, that despite our frailties He has pursued relationship with us since the beginning of time.

Jan 19, 2010

STAND: A New Year . . . A New Season

The following are some highlights from this past holiday season, which are by no means exhaustive. My journey began on December 21 as I flew to CA. My parents, uncle, and I stayed with my grandparents at their house in San Jose. It was a time of warmth and celebration as we enjoyed scrumptious meals, baked goods, activities, as well as a festive Christmas Day with most of the extended family. A day in San Francisco with our friend Scot Boyd at LucasArts where he works, and snowboarding at Lake Tahoe with my cousin Jordan and extended family, were also very memorable. Not long after Christmas, my parents left for Kentucky to be with my sister, brother-in-law, and new nephew. In the meantime, those of us who remained enjoyed a fun New Year’s together with family. On January 5, I departed by plane to Wheaton, IL where I spent the next few days supporting my friend Andrew Tebbe as a groomsman in his wedding. He and Laura are both BFA alumni as well as part of the OC family. During that time, I was also blessed to connect with four other BFA classmates: Amy Bristol, Sarah Drake, Andi Custer, and Dan Gorrell. There, I also got to reconnect with my parents, sister, and 7-week old nephew, Daniel (a.k.a. “Little-D”). After the wedding festivities, we drove from West Chicago—where we had stayed with my Uncle Tim and Aunt Cleia’s family—to Fort Mitchell, KY. It was great to stay with Tab and Ryan, and to get a sense of their daily lives. It was also great to get to know Daniel more, a definite character. Finally, on January 13, my parents drove me to the Indianapolis, IN airport where I flew back to CO. I feel blessed to have been able to spend such rich weeks with my family. Back in CO, I immediately returned to my work at theMILL, part of which included a leadership retreat this last weekend. Overall, I perceive that this year will be composed of important, possibly life-changing, events in my life. I pray that it be so for all of us. I look forward to hearing about your own lives, and to sharing more from mine as it progresses. Please be praying for theMILL missions, e.g. that every need is met. . . . For to stand is certainly a journey.

* * *

It is in untamed nature where I often find the greatest clarity; for it is there that YHWH often reminds me of my true self. Journeying into the wild is full of risks, and some are perhaps seemingly unnecessary; but there is liberation in such ventures, and I cannot live without it. Thus, I recently assailed a small mountain in Arapahoe National Park, CO. With only old running shoes and basic long socks on my feet (a bit foolish, I admit), I left a well-groomed cross-country skiing trail to trudge through 3-4ft deep snow up a very steep forested mountainside. Though there was no visible trail, the hope of a majestic panorama was too much to ignore. Yet, such a goal can be illusive. It may look reasonable from a distance; but the closer we approach, the larger it becomes until its true form makes itself known. Now, some of the challenges were a result of my own relative insanity (e.g. hiking alone without telling anyone, no snow shoes, no water, a possible sprained ankle from a past run), but I am used to such limitations. Sometimes they are deliberate, and sometimes they are not. Then, I knew what I was risking; but, I did not anticipate the extent to which my will—and to some degree my body—would be tested. Two or three times I considered turning around. Numerous tracks crossed my intended path, yet none of them were human. My feet eventually lost half their feeling, and I did not know how far I still had to climb. I knew I would be in serious trouble if I got injured. Snow covered rocks and branches could be my undoing, and dusk was approaching with swiftly dropping temperatures. Yet, I could not help but wonder whether the summit was just beyond sight? It has been written that many give up without realizing how close they are to the end, and that many victories have been won on the verge of utter disaster. Therefore, with stubborn resolve I pressed on, praying that God would graciously sustain my mind and body by His strength. I was prepared to face the consequences. As my energy progressively decreased, each step required incredible willpower. Due to the angle of the incline, it was as though I was actually wading through waist-deep snow. I am actually surprised that I never fully lost my balance and fell. Commandeering two dry sticks helped in that regard. Much of my weariness was eventually overlooked, however, as the terrain finally leveled out to reveal a bronze sky radiating through the trees. It was as though I was witnessing the aura of Heaven’s gates. My eyes could not see beyond the light; yet I perceived that within it resided the Holy. It was beautiful. A landscape of snow-capped mountain ranges that descended to valleys of alpine forests surrounded my mountain view. It was glorious. Reaching the pinnacle, I was reminded of YHWH’s faithfulness. Certain dreams are still shrouded in uncertainty, but I sense that I must continue following the path before me—one that I believe has been offered by my LORD. The journey does not necessarily end there—my descent was still difficult, and there are likely other peaks or valleys to eventually tread. However, I know that YHWH is with me. I may stumble and fall along the way, but He is faithful. His Kingdom is near. Therefore, we can all stand together by His grace. We can hope that what is now unseen will one day be seen. Soli Deo Gloria—to God alone be the glory. AMEN.