Posted by: jadanzzy | March 25, 2008

Israel: The Story Of Tension

I have a problem with reading books: I read too many at one time. Right now, there are about 3-4 books that have been started but yet to be finished. I think this is how I go about “blazing trails” in my life.

The idea of writing about decision-making didn’t sit well with me.  OK, that was euphemistic. I was opposed to the idea. But while reading through Tim Keel’s Intuitive Leadership (which is yet another victim of start-stop reading), Tim reminded me of the meaning of the word ‘Israel’–He wrestles with God. And although it’d be difficult for me to recount how I made decisions regarding specific events in my life, I’m willing to write through some thoughts on decision-making and tension. The idea of wrestling with God helps unpackage this.

When it comes to a Christian perspective to decision-making, I’ve been told most of my life that I have to commit 20 or so hours to prayer to hear God’s voice (this is called hyperbole, people). And it seemed to me that those prayers were answered only when my church leaders affirmed them. Whether explicit or implicitly stated, prayer would most definitely give me the 110% go ahead to make my move. Unfortunately, I don’t see that formula in Scripture.

Abraham never started out with certainty. In fact, I’m inclined to believe that as Yahweh talked with him, he remained skeptical, only because he’s human. It’s hard for me to swallow this notion that the worshipers and followers of God bought into everything immediately. Humanity’s story is one of doubt. This isn’t to say that there wasn’t a real supernatural event taking place between Abraham and Yahweh, but just because you supernaturally encounter the divine doesn’t mean that it is right or even good. Nevertheless, Abraham took that step of faith and his faith was validated through his life via incidents like Isaac on the mountain. What we see is unfolding from that point on is God’s steadfast promise.

Why is it that we calculate so scientifically when we make decisions (like marriage/life partners, careers, schools, location)? Why do we strive to achieve maximum benefit with minimal cost? Why, for us Christians, do we need to believe that our choices have to be the one ordained path set before us? Does not God work for the good of those who love him, regardless of time, place, and decision? I do not believe God acts in certain ways according to the certain decisions we make. Moreover, I wrestle with the idea that our decisions remain relatively independent of God’s move insofar as those decisions impact our own lives and the lives of those in our close proximity. It is not our decisions that guide our faith experience, but our posture of faith through our decisions.

This is where tension comes in. This is where we have to consider how God moves in and out of our lives with the choices we make in shaping our lives. As I see key figures take hold of their destiny in Israel’s story, I see nothing more than God’s steadfast promise being fulfilled in these peoples’ actions. Rahab was not acting out of certainty. She was reacting to the story of Yahweh’s promise made manifest in the people she encountered. The tension is played out with a question in my mind: In what posture of faith is God made great? When we are deterministic in God’s providence? Or, when in our actions, God’s constant promise is made a reality?

When people look at me, I want them to see a beautiful, creative, and redeemed journey. And in that journey, I want them to see the weaving of God’s covenant to me, and mine to God’s.

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Responses

  1. wow, powerful post. really enjoyed reading this. prayer, particularly in certain contexts, seems to be taken as escapist, although i know better than to let on that i think so.

    it is a difficult discipline however and i am always in awe of those who can do it well.

    there are certain moments in my life where decisions seemed more critical and required trusting in a promise of things not yet seen, but other times, more public and visible, which did not seem as critical, existentially speaking, even though they were greater milestones.

    the only concern i have i guess, is how do we avoid the resignation that might come with a deistic posture? when would prayer matter at all?

  2. So you’re saying that the answer is not in the answer, it’s in the journey to find the answer?
    Yeah, that sounds about right to me too.

    I think it’s difficult when a huge life decision is in front of you and you can see that fork in the road. Decide one way and your life goes in one direction, decide another way and your life goes in a completely different one. And I mean, let’s talk specifics here: should I go to seminary, should I not? should I marry this person, should I not? should I take that job in Finland, should I not? These decisions seem somewhat irreversible, and making the wrong one could land you in a horrible, horrible situation that God did not want for you …

    But maybe that’s the point: everything that happens is what God wanted for you. Argh, to trust that is so so difficult! But thanks for the reminder brother d.


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