Thursday, September 09, 2010

The God of the Long Haul

I took two classes in modules these past two weeks at NTS.  The morning module was Genesis and the evening module was Congregational Discipleship.

One of the assignments for Genesis was to read through it in one sitting.  That took a LONG time and it was well worth it.  Then we got to do it three times, each time we took more notes on the stories and characters.  Through this process I was reminded time and time again of the beauty, power, awesomeness and gracefulness of our God who created the universe with care and precision, gave humanity free will and when the first humans sinned in the Garden he did not leave them alone but graciously provided covering.  I was also struck by the brokenness of humanity, even those who had been chosen by God to be his people set apart.  I had forgotten that Abraham lied twice about who his wife was!  But even in the brokenness God pursued his people wherever they were.  One of the commentators called God the "mobile God" because there was no place that He could not be found (recalling the Psalmist's words "where can I go to flee from Your Spirit?" from Psalm 139).  God showed up time and time again on behalf of his people, giving direction, correction, safety, promises, interpretations and provisions.

It's always interesting to see how the content of my various classes interact with each other.  My other class was Congregational Discipleship, which focuses on how the church sees and structures itself so that it will effectively disciple all members of the congregation in the way of Jesus.  There was much in this class on spiritual development, teaching techniques and educational theory, and all of these combined pointed to one thing: EVERYTHING we do as the community of God plays a part in the formation of the people.  Everything says something about and reinforces what we believe.  Yet, because the structure of church is made up of people and relationships, there will always be an incompleteness and room for growth in God's grace.  

This is where Genesis swoops in.  God is the God of the Long-Haul.  As God bore with the people in Genesis and gave direction, correction, safety, promises, interpretations and provisions, so God bears with the church today.  Like Abraham we are called to be his people and sometimes failure happens.  Broken relationships, missed opportunities, gross misunderstandings, overlooked needs, etc...But God remains faithful.  Time and time again He proves himself and takes over where we mess up.

A friend just shared with me a story about her dad accepting Christ into his life just six weeks before he passed forward.  He had thumbed his nose at God throughout his life.  And it was largely in part because of hurt received from the church.  But in the end, God worked his way in, softening his heart so that he did open his heart to Jesus.  The God of the Long Haul.  Awesome!

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