Sep 22, 2003

Everything happens for a reason...

...which is what I truly believe. I'm several days behind on my Bible reading, according to the schedule I'm trying to follow. This afternoon, however, it seemed that God had a reason for me to be "behind." Today I sat down to read Habakkuk, which I "should" have read on Friday. The following is the intro to the book from The Message, which I thought really applied to Laura's comment on the previous post. But maybe that's just me. Who knows. Hopefully this will mean something to somebody though!

Living by faith is a bewildering venture. We rarely know what's coming next, and not many things turn out the way we anticipate. It is natural to assume that since I am God's chosen and beloved, I will get favorable treatment from the God who favors me so extravagantly. It is not unreasonable to expect that from the time that I become his follower, I will be exempt from dead ends, muddy detours, and cruel treatment from the travelers I meet daily who are walking the other direction. That God-followers don't get preferential treatment in life always comes as a surprise. But it's also a surprise to find that there are a few men and women within the Bible who show up alongside us at such moments.
The prophet Habakkuk is one of them, and a most welcome companion he is. Most prophets, most of the time, speak God's Word
to us. They are preachers calling us to listen to God's words of judgment and salvation, confrontation and comfort. They face us with God as he is, not as we imagine him to be. Most prophets are in-your-face assertive, not given to tact, not diplomatic, as they insist that we pay attention to God. But Habakkuk speaks our word to God. He gives voice to our bewilderment, articulates our puzzled attempts to make sense of things, faces God with our disappointment with God. He insists that God pay attention to us, and he insists with a prophet's characteristic no-nonsense bluntness.
The circumstance that aroused Habakkuk took place in the seventh century B.C. The prophet realized that God was going to use the godless military machine of Babylon to bring God's judgment on God's own people--using a godless nation to punish a godly nation! It didn't make sense, and Habakkuk was quick and bold to say so. He dared to voice his feelings that God didn't know his own God business. Not a day has passed since then that one of us hasn't picked up and repeated Habakkuk's bafflement: "God, you don't seem to make sense!"
But this prophet companion who stands at our side does something even more important: He waits and he listens. It is in his waiting and listening--which then turns into praying--that he found himself inhabiting the large world of God's sovereignty. Only there did he eventually realize that the believing-in-God life, the steady trusting-in-God life, is the full life, the only real life. Habakkuk started out exactly where we start out with our puzzled complaints and God-accusations, but he didn't stay there. He ended up in a world, along with us, where every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

Two short passages--maybe three--from Habakkuk:
(without verse numbers, because they aren't marked in The Message)

God has perfect timing (from chapter 2): "If it seems slow in coming, wait. It's on its way. It will come right on time."

A godly life is the one worth living (from chapter 2): "But the person in right standing before God through loyal and steady believing is fully alive, really alive."

(end of chapter 3): "Though the cherry trees don't blossom and the strawberries don't ripen, Though the apples are worm-eaten and the wheat fields stunted, Though the sheep pens are sheepless and the cattle barns empty, I'm singing joyful praise to God. I'm turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God. Counting on God's rule to prevail, I take heart and gain strength. I run like a deer. I feel like I'm king of the mountain!"

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