November 9, 2009

slapdash #1

Apparently the tide came in like crazy yesterday.  I have to admit, I was a little depressed when I got out of my truck to survey my running terrain.  There were inlets and pools of water marooned on the mushy sand as far back as the dunes, which meant running on the beach was going to feel like running through a world made of porridge.  The tide had worked greedy fingers through every level part of the wide shore, leaving confused water trails very far from the wind blown, raging ocean with no promise of return.

There is a verse in Job 38 that I love in a very "tell me a story" way and I thought of it as I stared in disappointment at what was going to be a very rough workout.  In the verse, God is teaching Job about Himself by asking rhetorical questions about His greatness. He speaks of His control over the very borders of the ocean:
"Or who shut in the sea with doors...when I fixed My limit for it...and said, 'This far you may come, but no farther, and here your proud waves must stop.'"

It's as easy as attending a Sunday school class to discover God's history with the world and floods, and how He promised to never destroy it by deluge ever again.  He promises us He's got the ocean handled and we don't have to worry about it overflowing onto the whole oxygen breathing world's living space.   What once overtook, is now bound in and reigned by His decree and this fact is very comforting.  All of us who live here near the ocean are glad that it answers to His commands and that He is on our side... especially those who build houses next to the sea!  

But while I was doing my best to jog my way over a scarred and whimpering beach yesterday, I could feel the question of flood and boundary gnawing at my muscles.  No, the water will not go past His decree.  And for most of the year that decree is nicely placed in a predictable part of Morro strand with no sign of changing.  But when the water comes where we didn't expect it and wretchedly alters the path we're on, did it disobey or did He decree it?

Sometimes our nice, predictable, carefully coddled world feels more water and more wave than we prefer.  We hate it that we have to pick our way through a landscape made more difficult to traverse by what seems like a sudden mistake on the topography.  Why is this water here?  It's never been here except for today when I decided to drive a half hour to take a run on this beach!  Why is this struggle here?  I thought things would be one way and they are another.  

Let's simplify what goes on in our heads.  These surprising roadblocks that mush up our path force us into one of two modes of thinking: either God decreed this inconvenient and seemingly random change in the landscape, or the elements of the world are more powerful than Him and were able burst His established mode.

If the sea was able to break His bounds, then He really isn't in control and thus really isn't God like He says He is, and we might as well throw in the faith-towel now because He lied about the whole thing.

But if God did decree this temporary touch of water to land (I'm gonna go with this option), then the question becomes one of motive:  Is He is out to get us, or out to prove us.  Is He out to take us down or to strengthen our resolve.  Hopefully we know enough about God to trust despite circumstance that love love LOVE is His motive.  It is a fatherly, wise love that says, "I know you want an easier trail.  But here are some stronger legs you'll gain by a longer, sandier route."  And if we can get to the point where we believe that a harder life or path does not equal an unloved-by-God life or path, then we will have grown in our faith indeed.

I hope that you have tasted enough of God's character to know that If God is who He says He is, then as we show up to unexpected rough workouts and rough patches of life it is for us to choose to purely believe Him.  It is for us to choose to let go of our inner control-freak and tread joyfully, submissively and willingly over altered, difficult terrain.  This is possible only if we are absolutely convinced that this terrain is formed for us by a God who truly loves us.  It's simple and very radical, and in my opinion, just crazy enough to work.  

May the God who writes our days and forms out path freely change our reaction to change.


Sara said...

beautiful. challenging. truth.

Christine said...

Cas, this is the Christine that lives with Christine Reiher. My lovely housemate left your blog up on the computer, and I decided to read it this morning over my bowl of raisin bran. Thanks for a challenging morning devotional. Also, reading this makes me want to live on the beach...