The holidays are over now, but winter so far hasn't afforded many of us the peace that we imagined. Happenings in life interrupt our plans for meditation, reading, and quiet evenings at home. Solomon's Ecclesiastes lists of "a time for" reads easily this time of year (chapter 3, verses 1-8) but our tendency for spiritual narcissism prompts us to put ourselves into every picture of the reign of God in this fallen world. But notice when Solomon wrote that there is "a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted..." that there is never a call for us to do anything. People die in spite of the best efforts of human hearts and hands, and harvest time will come and go whether or not we reap what we sew.
Living in the Word is the most blessed life any human can live. It begins with the most elementary understanding of the generic, dictionary definition of the word "God". You'll find such words and phrases in Merriam-Webster as, "supreme", "perfect in power", "requiring human worship", and "ultimate reality". The reality we most often fail to grasp is that our expectations should not originate from within us, but is revealed by God through His Word and workings in us through His Holy Spirit.
The next reality to grasp is to know that the causes of sin and death, inequalities and injustices, and heartaches and strife can be traced back to our original parents in Eden. God did not create us to suffer and die. But because He is God and is good, He will not allow His heaven-bound children to be swallowed by the roaring lion, the devil.
Instead, He became flesh, like you and me, but remained sinless and was the sacrificial Lamb for our sins. In short, He is the ultimate, perfect in power, and supreme reality worthy of all human worship. His children are the ones whom Paul exhorts to "call out Abba, Father" (Galatians 4:6) when in despair or trouble. As one Christian observer noticed, Paul did not advise to "pray to" but to "call out" (other translations use "cry out") which indicates the anguish of a child of God in a desperate time of need.
One of these quiet winter evenings, ponder on the words of Christian writer C. S. Lewis who once wrote, "God whispers to us in times of pleasure, but He shouts to us in times of pain." It's when times of trouble when we are most acutely aware of our need for the loving heavenly Father. The beatitudes (Latin for "blessings" found in Matthew 5:12) are a good re-read for a dark and dreary winter's day. They, too, do not call for us to do anything but receive His blessings.
The recognition of our inability to save ourselves (verse 3 "poor in spirit"=spiritual impoverishment) makes us mournful and meek (verses 4, 5). That recognized need makes us hunger and thirst for His righteousness (verse 6), which helps us be merciful as He guides our own hearts' desires, which gives us peace. (verses 6-9). Only then can life begin to make sense and have meaning. That's the ultimate and powerful Epiphany call of every desperate winter. Gloria Deo--Glory to God.
Pastor Timothy Matthew
is pastor of Redeemer Lutheran
Church in Kennett.