Saturday, November 30, 2013

All of God

The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.' Numbers 14:18 NIV

I need that God. I need that God who is "slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion."

I want that God, too. He's so approachable. Tender in my weakness. Patient in my stubborn selfishness.

But that second part, oh, that part after the semicolon. I resist thinking about the God who "punishes children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation." That's not how I would do it. Or would I?

When I question the ways of the one true God, that's rebellion, if my sometimes headstrong attitude accompanies those queries. I'm His child. His Spirit lives within me, teaching me, guiding me and protecting my heart and mind. I know better. But sometimes I fail. Still, God picks me back up again.

I'm thankful for Jesus Christ. His work fully God, fully man here on earth. The healings, and the teaching that came from that eternally fruitful time. I'm thankful God created me after the New Testament. But His truth was displayed in Old Testament times as well. 

He doesn't change. He's always been the one true God. Jesus is always; He's eternal. That means when God laid down this statement about punishing subsequent generations for their parents' sin, Jesus was there. He just hadn't come here yet. Of course, that changed how we can approach God if we have Jesus in our lives.

I'm thankful that I'm covered under the new covenant. I heard so much about the new covenant growing up in my little country church. I love the God of the new covenant.

But I trust in the very same God who made the Heavens and the Earth. I trust the very same God of the Pentateuch, which is the first five books of the Bible. Among the five is the book of Numbers. 

Beyond that, I trust the God of the books of history, poetry and wisdom, and prophets in the Old Testament. He's the same God, the very same God, displayed in the New Testament gospels, epistles, or letters, a New Testament history book, and in New Testament prophecy and apocalyptic books. 

God created the beauty we know as the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Like the depths of the ocean and the height of the sky, both of which humans don't understand to a great extent, God is mysterious. He's the One who teaches, and He reveals Himself to us, yet much we must leave in His perfect hands. 

The books are interwoven, because they're written by our eternal Lord. I can't have one without the other. I love the God of the new covenant. I love the Lord of my life today.

But I love the God of Adam and Eve; Moses, Miriam, and Aaron; Joseph, Nehemiah, Isaiah and David.

I love God. And I trust God.

We've been through hard times in our family. Shock. Grief. Disappointment. I wept to a pastor about one of these problems in particular. He told me, "Helene, this is when you go back to what you know for sure."

So I started making a list. Not surprisingly, what I put at the top of my list involves God. He loves me and my family. His Word is true. He's present where I am not, so His control and protection extend to places I cannot reach. My eternity is secure because of Him. I can trust Him, and I can trust Him with me, and with my family. 

So I extrapolate, if I can trust Him today, in my life, could the words of Numbers be trustworthy too? Could those hard words we dislike hearing be important for our protection, and for the protection of our predecessors? Important for our lives and for keeping me, and us, from the consequences of sin? 

If I trust God based on His Word and His work, which I truly do, I trust His Words and His ways. Today, and before the new covenant.

When He sounds gentle and encouraging to me, and when He sounds firm, even stern, and unbending. Yet, regardless of how He sounds to me, no matter how I feel or think about what He says or what He does, He's trustworthy, even when I doubt. My logic doesn't touch His.

He does everything at the right time, in the right way. Always. In contrast, as much as I try, I fall short.

But I decide to trust in His justice, over and over again. I know His punishment is called for when He delivers it. Discipline and tests, too. New Testament, Old Testament and today, I trust my God.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18 ESV

I love and respect my God, who is tender enough to welcome small children and crabby adults into His family, and so strong as to hold vengeance as His territory. Generous and loving enough to send His Son and allow Him to die. So strong as to raise Him up again.

I love Him. I'm glad He is Who He is. Because as much as He values me, as much as He gifted me, as much as He granted me a rich faith life, my wisdom doesn't touch His foolishness. My creativity, my imagination and my motives aren't as great as His. Not even close.

For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. 1 Cor. 1:25 NIV

And to His glory, when I can't count on me, I can trust Him. 

Yesterday, today and forever.