A Bigger Picture (Part 7)

Hello! Sorry it has taken me so long to post. It has been a tornado since I got home with the wisdom teeth coming out, friends getting married and miles to be made up on the Bianchi. But, here is the final installment from the summer. I think I will continue to write on this blog in the future. It has been a great place to download and process new thoughts and emotions. If you would like to keep following, that would be wonderful. I’m hoping for maybe two posts a week.

Ok. Enough jibber-walky. Here is the final post!

One final blog. To tie it all together. I apologize, this could be long. I’m going to try to bring it all together under one umbrella of beautiful romance between a man and his bride. We’ll see how it goes.

We have to pick up the story from the very beginning. I’m talking, before “In the beginning…” Before there were formless and empty waters and the Spirit hovering like a helicopter, there was just God. He was. He existed in perfect unity with himself. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Three persons in one, existing together in a perefect community. Then something amazing happened. You see, before there was the formless and empty earth, someone had to have the idea. So, for the first time, God’s thoughts travel outside the community of the trinity. An idea is formed and something must be done. Or as we know it, creation must be created. So, the second amazing thing happens, the trinity huddle breaks up and heads to the line. I’m not sure what happens between verse one and verse two, but we went from God created to the earth being dark, formless, and empty. (I promise all this has a point.) This next part is interesting. We get a story of how it all went down. Now, it’s easy for us to put a face on God and give him human characterstics. But, we have to remember, God is not human. He did become a man but he was still fully divine. We talk of God’s emotions as if he were someone sitting right next to us on the couch, but I think he is a bit bigger then that. So, the story of creation is a human attempt to make the unbelievable, believable. Some scholars got together and wrote a story. It’s riddled with Assyrian, Babylonian, and other cultural influences. Just about every religion has a creation story and this one is similar to a lot of other ones. But, that’s just what it is, a story. It’s pretty amazing and I’m under the influence the way it’s written doesn’t give it the justice it deserves. I personally believe it happened like the Bible says it does, but who knows? If you believe a little differently, that’s awesome. The amazing part is, it happened. Some people are pumped about it happening in seven days. So what if it didn’t? Have you looked at how a cell processes protein? God did that. Seven days or not, it’s pretty awesome.

Ok, back to the story. We have God stepping outside of the community of 3-in-1 and putting some paint on the canvas. This is when our guys start creating the story of creation. (There are actually two stories in the first few chapters. But this is where we get into the Documentary Hypothesis and the four writers of the Torah.) First things first, we have the Spirit hovering over the waters. It’s almost as if God is in a moment of indecision. Maybe he doesn’t know where to start, kind of like creation block, or maybe he knows he’s about to change everything. Maybe he knows he’s about create a world, with people, with the option to choose, with the option to not choose him. And since we know God exists at the beginning and the end, maybe he’s trying to decide whether or not the pain of finding and losing his people and sending his Son through the most excruciating of deaths is worth it. Perhaps he is trying to decide if the battle is worth it, or if he has the energy to love the unlovable and forgive the unforgivable. But, I believe our God is a helpless romantic. I think, in this moment of hovering, he decided the party at the end would be worth the pain in the middle. And so he spoke and created everything for our benefit. He did it because he loved us, even though he technically hadn’t created us yet. It was good. He spoke some more. And that was good. Then he did it again. It was good as well. He was on a roll. Kind of like the Georgia Bulldogs at the end of last season. It was just good. Unstoppable. So it was with our God. He was smiling and creating and laughing and speaking and it was good.

Here’s the interesting part though. It was good. Notice the word choice. God didn’t say, “Hey, that’s perfect.” So what, right? Maybe there is something to it. Perfect implies just that; nothing needs to change. Nothing needs fixing. Good on the other hand allows for growth, adaptation, evolution (omg, right?). So, in this case, good is better then perfect. Good gives us room to change. Good gives us room to grow. Good sets the stage for the greatest romance of all time. Like I said just a second ago, our God is a helpless romantic and there was one thing in the good creation which wasn’t good.

The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Yes. It’s not good for man to live without someone. We were created with romance at the heart of it all. So, it began. Creation was finally completed and there was morning and evening on the first day. I’m not sure how long God and man walked in fellowship, but it was good. There were long walks in the garden. Great conversations in the light of the waning sun. It was the best relationship between a man and his bride this world has ever seen. But, the relationship was underminded by a third party. He came masquerading as an angel of light. He came with beautiful words and a tempting offer. He told the bride what she wanted to hear. So, she turned. She ate. She walked away from God. And man fell. God’s heart broke for the first time and the cycle began.

The story is splashed on the pages of the Old Testament. Its seems like every other chapter is God being mad at his bride and then God taking her back. Deception, anger, forgiveness, and reconciliation tie the whole first half of the Bible together. I cannot even imagine God’s heart throughout this whole process. It must have been ripped to pieces so many times. There must have been thousands of rolls of duct tape used to mend the brokeness. The anger, frustration, confusion, love, pain, forgiveness, longing, and desperation must have been too much for his his heart to handle.

A few months ago, in a moment of desperation, I prayed a similar request. “Lord, show me your heart.” He did. I still haven’t recovered. I’ve never felt love so intense for another person. I’ve never felt anger burn so hot at injustices. I had never experienced emotional pain that causes physical pain until then. The desire for reconciliation, for justice, and for romance was too much for me to handle. I think my accountability partner said it best one Friday over a delicious burrito. He said, “It’s like being on sensory overload.” And it was. Feeling like crying and breaking something at the same time was a new experience for me. But, had I not gone there, I would not have been able to tell you the story I am telling you now. So, let’s get back to it.

God and his bride are locked in a epic battle of pain and love. The bride walks. God waits. Round and round it goes. The flood happens. The bride is exiled. She is sold into slavery and prostitution. Yet, God keeps taking her back. By this point, I think God is singing John Mayer.

“She comes and goes
And comes and goes
Like no one can
She comes and goes
And no one knows
Shes slipping through my hands

Shes always buzzin just like
Neon, neon, neon, neon
Who knows how long, how long, how long
She can go before she burns away”

-John Mayer, Neon

We get stories like Hosea where God tells him to go buy back his wife who has given herself to prostitution. And God dictates stories of his love for his bride to the prophets. He keeps loving. The relationship grows and grows. The history gets longer and the bride still turns her back. How does she turn her back on a history so long and so deep and so full of love? How can she just walk over and over? At this point, the moment of indecision before creation was created comes back and God wonders if he made the right decision. There is only one thing left to do. The bride’s  insurrections have become insurmountable. Her history is full of pain and bloodshed. Entire nations were destroyed as a result of her bad choices.

I’ve been asked over and over, “How could I serve a God who killed entire people groups in the Old Testament?” But, I don’t think it was God just killing people. It was him fixing the mess his bride made. Standing up for her. Fighting for her. Even still, someone had to pay for it. Someone had to pay the price for her mistakes. Someone had to take the place of those who took the fall for the bride. And someone did. Let’s pick up the story in the garden, just hours before the single greatest event in all of history. Here we have Jesus, going one last time to spend time with his father. He’s alone. He’s cold. And he’s pleading for the burden to be lifted. I think he was afraid. But, I think he knew he would be coming back alive.

Over the past week, I think I have realized what Jesus’ hang up was. I’m sure fear was a part of it. I’m sure he wanted to avoid the physical pain. But, I think the biggest part was taking the fall and forgiving someone who didn’t know the needed to be forgiven. How do you do that? How do you truly forigve someone who has no idea the need to be forgiven? What’s it’ like to pardon someone who has caused so much pain and so much doubt even though they have no idea what they have done. I think this is why Jesus’ prayer was so intense in the garden. His bride had wronged him, betrayed him and she had no idea. She caused the deaths of countless nations and had taken advantage of an unending love. Her injutices were piled higher then the highest mountain, but she didn’t know. So, here Jesus is pleading for the cup to pass. Pleading for it all to go away. Then the time comes. He’s arrested and led to the cross. As the nails are piercing the skin and the pain swells to more than any man can handle, he whispers the words, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.” Amazing. He forgave. In doing so, he paved the way for his bride to come into his presence forever and ever. The relationship would never be the same. He paid for her transgressions. He took them all on his shoulders. He paid the penalty and it was done. It was finished. It is finished.

Now, I don’t know what the complete reconcilation with Christ and his bride feels like or looks like. I haven’t been there personally. So, I will have to leave you in some anticipation of a future party. However, scripture does give us a tiny picture.

When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion,
we were like men who dreamed.

Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”

The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.

I imagine the laughter will be the kind that makes your side hurt. The Lord has done great things for us.

It’s a great story, isn’t it? But, I have to ask myself why? What’s the point, it’s just a story. Well, I’ve come to figure out, he did everything he did for you. Every sunset he has ever painted, he did for you. Every thunderclap has been to impress you. Every frisbee he’s ever caught has been for you. Every story ever written has been for you. Every A he ever made in college has been for you. Every rainstorm has been meant to try to get you to look his way. Everything he has ever done has been so you will acknowledge is presence. Pretty awesome. He’s that big and he loves you that much. Like I said, I think he’s a helpless romantic with endless resources and a creative mind bigger the space (which is the final frontier.)

He’s knocking. Will you answer?