1.27.2007

Early morning at the breakfast bar....

I'm back at my favorite perch this morning, with two cups of Over the Rhine Chuck Roast sitting beside my Powerbook. "Two cups?" you ask. Yes. I poured one for Jackson, who is becoming quite the coffee affectionado, and then realized he's not getting up for 30 more minutes, so....this stuff's too good to pour back.

While it may have seemed hard to believe, our failed election attempt was not all I thought about over the last few days. Far from it. I spent every spare moment I could eek out of my schedule staring at the book of Joel...thinking of the day of solemn assemblies, wholesale repentance and contrition that not only turns the hearts of people but alters the course of history. Little stuff like that.

The early part of Joel 2 describes a calamity. It's a living nightmare of famine and invastion...of a disciplined army tearing through the land and showing no mercy. The Bible says they don't even break ranks. They don't push, they don't shove, they just come like a wave of locusts. If you read through it slowly and project it on to the backdrop of your own life, your own city....it's chilling.

Then God gives us a hint of hope. He suggests we turn to Him with fasting, weeping and mourning....that we quit making a show of religion and make a heart-felt return to Him. Suddenly, He gives us a peek into His real intentions:

Joel 2:13,14
So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm. Who knows if He will turn and relent, And leave a blessing behind Him-- A grain offering and a drink offering For the Lord your God?

Two words in that passage have been dogging me. "Who knows..." Who knows? The God of the universe is laying a course of action for the history of all humanity and He shrugs His shoulders and says "who knows?" as if He were flipping some cosmic coin and catching it in space? His point is not to be vague. His point is to accentuate your role in His relenting. The real what if lies in your response, in your fasting, weeping and mourning.

Some translations use the phrase "Perhaps God." Never have to words been so heavily loaded in all of history.
"Perhaps the Lord" is what Jonathan and his armor bearer had to go on when they attacked the Philistine camp (and won....perhaps God, indeed). Facing sure annihilation (Saul's army of 3,000 men were down to two spears. This is not good...). Jonathan and his buddy take one of the spears (odd that no one noticed when half the arsenal disappeared...) and climb up to take a look at the bad guys. Jonathan spurs his friend forward with thoughts of "Perhaps God." It's sort of a spin off of "What's the worst that could happen?" exept they both knew that the worst was already happening, and if God didn't intervene, hiding with the rest of the army wasn't going to be very effective anyway. Note to self: When back against the wall, "Perhaps God" is the best thing you've got going for you.

Another perhaps God comes not from believers, but from the pagan sailors who were carting Jonah far from Ninivah. A storm is raging and they're fearing for their lives. They shake Jonah and shout some of the most chilling words that
unbelievers have ever said to the people of God:

“What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish.” (in context)

What a rude awakening. Not only the "perhaps God...." but the source - the unbelievers, shaking him from his sleep to get him to pray because "perhaps God....". I wonder - if the church does not grab ahold of her role in calling for solemn assemblies - how long will it be before the headlines of the pagan print scream it out...."wake up, Church. Perhaps your God...."

Our directions are clear. Joel in chapter 2, vs 15-17:

Blow the trumpet in Zion, Consecrate a fast, Call a sacred assembly; Gather the people, Sanctify the congregation, Assemble the elders, Gather the children and nursing babes; Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, And the bride from her dressing room. Let the priests, who minister to the Lord, Weep between the porch and the altar; Let them say, "Spare Your people, O Lord, And do not give Your heritage to reproach, That the nations should rule over them. Why should they say among the peoples, "Where is their God?".

Perhaps, indeed.

3 comments:

javamamma said...

Good stuff. Our church just came off a time of intensified seeking - this is the word that came out. Awesome perspective you have. Perhaps God...

(My word verification is gwuts. What are g-wuts? Can you eat them while on a Daniel fast?)

Jerry James said...

You would have made a great president . . . interesting anyway, but you have a much greater opportunity of influence as you "blow the trumpet", "rend your heart" and go hard after "the perhaps of God".

Ronni said...

Wow. This year is such a year of face before God stuff. My spirit is jumping thinking of all God is going to do this year... and I'm going to place my intent on being where I need to be to get what He wants for me out of it.

"rend your heart"... I really like that.