September 2016 Streams of Thought
The rock band Disturbed released their 6th album, Immortalized,
last summer; on it was a song called "The Light." The music video
tells the story of a badly injured firefighter who is befriended by a
therapist who looks past his disfigurement and helps him heal in
body and soul.
The chorus says "When you think all is forsaken/
Listen to me now [all is not forsaken]/ You need never feel
broken again/Sometimes darkness can show us the light."
The band's music often has religious themes that reflect the Orthodox Judaism of lead singer David Draiman. We think of darkness as a bad thing yet Scripture sometimes connects darkness with God (Deut. 5:22-23; II Sam. 2:12). God is described as "light in whom there is no darkness" but there is a divine darkness which conceals Him from us. It's not moral or spiritual darkness; it's about God being ultimately unknowable.
We glimpse reflections or slivers of the glory, wonder, power, and greatness of God; even the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, as revealing as it is and was, only shows part of God's infinite nature. In the darkness of grief, pain, confusion, or uncertainty we naturally look for God's light, some indication He is still with us. In brief moments we might remember He's the One who called light out of the dark, pre-Creation chaos (Genesis 1:1-3); He calls us from "darkness into His wonderful light" (I Peter 2:9); He walked the earth as the "Light of the world" in Jesus Christ (John 8:12).
Because of God's grace darkness can "show you the light." Just as "God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom" (I Corinthians 1:25) so God's divine darkness is brighter than the darkness of grief, pain, confusion, and uncertainty. We might not have our questions answered and our hearts might still ache but God's light will shine through and show us His grace and goodness in unexpected ways.
Grace and Peace,
August 2016 Streams of Thought
I recently started a devotional book by Ann Spangler titled Praying the Names of Jesus. The first name the author explores is Immanuel or "God with us;" found in Isaiah 7:14 & 8:8 and Matthew 1:22-23 this name reminds us God is always with us. The Gospel of Matthew, the only place in the New Testament where this name is found, starts and ends with the promise that God is with us (1:22-23/28:20).
God has always been with His people; the Old Testament records the rainbow after the Flood, pillars of cloud and fire that led Israel through the desert after
her Exodus from Egypt, and the Ark of the Covenant as signs of God's presence with His people. Leaders like Moses, Joshua, David, and the prophets were reminders of God's reality among His people.
Then came Jesus, God's most direct, in-your-face way of being present. The life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ represents a shattering paradigm shift in the history of the world.
God Himself showed up in Jesus, living the same messy, earthy existence we live. The Son of God, the "Word who was with God and was God...became flesh and lived for a while among us" (John 1:1-14). But it didn't end there; Jesus promised His disciples and His Church that even after He left this earth He would still be with us through His Holy Spirit (John 16-17). That is the reality and truth we live today; Jesus is still Immanuel, God with us, every minute, hour, day, week, month, year, decade.
What are some ways you feel Jesus is with you?