Daily Proverbial, from Ecclesiastes, 11 September 2012

Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what he has made crooked? Ecclesiastes 7, verse 13.

The power of God astounds me. I would have said “amazes” me but I’m trying to avoid using the words ‘amazes’ or ‘amazing’ because I think they’re overused. Amazing is a race. Amazing is Mr. Kreskin. Blah. So, instead, I choose a different word to describe what comprehending God’s power makes me feel. I’m astounded by it. Floored, dropped, stupefied, dumbfounded, silenced. Choose your own pet word and you describe it in your own way. That’s the cool part about our faith journeys. Yours is different from mine but it’s all good.

Yet we all get to come back to shared Scripture and see how the things that bind us together are common and good. Among those is that astounding power of God. You’ve heard me say that I don’t accept manmade global warming. I simply don’t. We aren’t going to go political here; I simply think it’s improbable and impossible for man to change the planet in such a way to heat it up.

But God can. In fact, one day, He will. He already promised to do it.

If you subscribe to the idea of pre-destination, namely that God has already seen your path in life before you have and that your life is already destined and willed by God, can you tell me what you can do to stop it? God is over, in and through all things. In practical reality, what can you or I do to stop Him?

If God decided to snuff out the Sun tomorrow, could we stop it? We could explain it; we could analyze it. Talk radio could discuss it and suspect it’s a nefarious government plot. Politicians could harp about it and say it’s a sign they need to raise taxes. But if God decided to put out the Sun tomorrow, there really isn’t anything we could do about it. Ditto if he decided that honeybees should talk, grass would be purple, Brussels sprouts would actually taste good to most people, and Adam Sandler should win an Academy Award.

So we agree: God is unstoppable. There isn’t much you or I or even the humanity collective could do to stop Him. It’s simply a fact of life. That’s the big part of the verse, but let’s not gloss over a few small things about the verse that it’s easy to overlook. In fact, I’m betting you already have just in reading along my train of thought.

There is the word “consider.” The New Living Translation has the word “Accept” in there. Ok, that works too. The Good News says “think about;” But the NIV and the ‘original’ King James and a number of other versions all say “consider” so that’s the version we’ll go with for now. To consider is not just a command: it’s a privilege. Right from the start, God is both directing and asking us to contemplate His astounding power. He is God. He speaks matter, time and space into existence. He does it not for some celestial ego high: He does it because He is pure love and wants us to appreciate, then share, that love.

So He asks us to consider. That requires pondering, and observation, and cogitation, and contemplation. It is active engagement in Him and what He can do. God asks us to sit, be still, and think about Him. And when He does that, good things happen for us.

Then there is that whole crooked deal. Does God make things crooked? Ever been to the mountains? They aren’t symmetrical. Just yesterday I was flying from Texas to Minnesota and I looked out at the landscape 30000 feet below. It’s all crooked. The powers of erosion, seasons, and time have weathered the landscape, moved riverbanks, and shifted fields. Human-controlled landscape like tended fields and towns is miniscule compared to the amount of land affected by nature. Nothing in Genesis says “God made a perfectly shaped world where every corner is offset by another and every edge is smooth.” It does say, however, that God saw what He made and considered it good.

So, this is a long way of saying “yes, God can make crooked things.”

Let’s take a tough but substantial leap here. Does that mean that God can put crooked things in our lives? Does that mean that God can put bad things into our lives? I think any brutally honest answer to this has to be yes. God doesn’t desire pain, hurt, or harm for us. He desires only the opposite and designs only the opposite in our lives. Yet can He put crooked things on our paths? Absolutely. More and more I think it’s really we who put them there. Most of the time, the things that we encounter, the obstacles we have to cross, the trouble we find, well, we find those things because of choices we make.

In all of them, though, God is at work turning the crooked straight. He made the crooked but he straightens it out with His love to demonstrate that love for us. He turns wrong to right and right to better, even when it’s hard for us to see.
There’s a George Strait song called “I Saw God Today.” The refrain to that song says, “I’ve been to church, I’ve read the book, I know he’s here, But I don’t look near as often as I should. Yeah, I know I should. His fingerprints are everywhere. I just slowed down to stop and stare. Opened my eyes and man I swear I saw God today.” It’s everywhere and the power of God astounds me. Whether it’s looking up at the stars or flying over that American landscape and realizing that He shaped it to be specifically what it is, I see the power of God everywhere. It’s in heroes rushing into the Twin Towers to save who they could. It’s in little babies sleeping, and in the mysterious way He imbues comfort into our lives through His word, through the ways we get fresh new perspectives on verses we’ve read a dozen times already. THAT is truly amazing.

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