Today’s Lent Project devotional is by Jonathan Shelton. Jonathan and his wife Candi are members of our Leadership Team and host the Alpharetta North Table Group.
When I first read the verses for the daily office, I immediately set about trying to find the theme that tied them all together in hope to construct a nice, tidy, airtight blog with a shiny bow on top. I was immediately stumped. I kept trying to work the angles like a trick pool shot and kept coming up empty handed. It became obvious that a bit more effort would be required of me.
As I move further, and hopefully deeper in my faith journey, I’m finding less tidiness and bows. All of these scriptures left me with more questions than answers. They sent me on mini expeditions looking for someone wiser to help me make sense of them. What I found were lots of people, many of them far smarter than me, with plenty of opinions and educated guesses.
Why, in Genesis, were Jacob’s “blessings” lavish on some of his sons and harsh for others? How much was based on his experience and what of it was prophetic? How do my words shape the future of my sons?
In the Psalms why is the writer convinced that God has removed his blessing from the people of Israel? After airing his frustrations, why does he end with “Blessed be the Lord forever!”
In Mark, Why did Jesus hesitate at first to deliver the Syro-Phoenician woman’s daughter and then heal the deaf and mute man with no question?
In 1 Corinthians what would Paul say is the modern day context for refusing to eat food offered to idols?
I can readily admit that some of these questions are a result of my limited ability to understand and interpret scripture. Surely somewhere there are answers that make more sense than others. However, some of the frustration results from wanting everything to be immediately consumable and quantifiable. Another way of saying it is that mystery is frustrating and inconvenient.
After praying for wisdom to see the thread between these scriptures, I realized that God is apparently not interested in me cranking out what might have been a sterile, formulaic blog post. I think today he’s interested in reminding me that he’s big enough for our questions and our frustrations and is beckoning us into a pursuit of the unknown. He is not guaranteeing our safety or any answers. He is far more interested in having us wrestle through questions, and question our presuppositions of Him in order to ultimately find Him. Not for what he can give us but for the sake of experiencing him. He has given us more blessings than we can count, and if he never gave us another good thing it would have been enough. He has given us Jesus and Jesus has offered us redemption and eternally bridged the chasm between us and a Holy God.
He will very likely continue to bless us. What is our response? Will we become comfortable consumers of his gifts or will we be bold enough to pray that he shakes and sifts us from time to time so that we don’t forget his goodness or become numb to his vastness and power? Will we embrace the mystery today and chase him into the hidden places? He is certainly worth the pursuit.