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Friday, November 16, 2007

Homily for Seminary Wives Retreat

Sem Wives Retreat
Evening Suffrages

November 16, 2007

Jeremiah 31:1-34

v. 33 I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

Martin Luther used to have a saying: “Let God be God.” It sounds pretty obvious. Of course God is God. Who else would He be? Certainly it is true that God is the Great King Almighty whether we know or not, whether we like it or not. God does not require our permission to be the sovereign of the universe.

I think that we all basically understand that at an intellectual level. If someone were to stop you in the street taking a survey and ask you, “Who is the ruler of the universe?” you would probably say, “Well, God is the ruler of the universe.” And if they further asked you, “Who is this God?” you might respond with something like, “He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

But as is so often the case, knowing something in your head is not the same thing and knowing something in your heart. Sometimes the greatest distance for an idea to travel is the 18 inches between your mind and your heart.

Erma Bombeck once wrote a book with the title: If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits? The reality is that life is not a bowl of cherries. Sometimes it is the pits. We live in a badly damaged creation, warped and corrupted by sin and the power of death. The original purity and goodness of humanity has been soiled with a stain no human effort can remove.

Bad things happen to good people. And good things happen to bad people. And we are left scratching our heads wondering why life always seems so unfair. And in those moments of crisis when the pillars of the earth seem to be crumbling around our ears, we try to take charge of our situations and regain some sense of order.

One of the most uncomfortable feelings anyone can have is the feeling of being out of control and people will almost do anything to maintain a sense of control, the feeling of being in charge of your life. You see, it is easy for people to say that they believe in God or that they believe that Jesus Christ is Lord. But when push comes to shove, when the going gets rough, when life is not a cheerful bowl of cherries, then we get the feeling that God may be the Lord, but He must be asleep at the wheel because He’s not doing such a terrific job. When God fails to live up to our expectations, we politely nudge Him aside, say thank you very much, and grab hold of the controls. How often do you say you believe that God is in charge but live as if He didn’t exist at all? How often do we say we trust in God, but then we continue to wring our hands in worry?

There is verse in Psalm 46 that says: "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."

And another similar passage nine psalms earlier which says: Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Do you find yourself filled with concern and worry because things are not coming together as you planned? Do you find yourself frequently questioning God asking “why me?” Be brutally honest with yourself right now, and ask yourself, truthfully, don’t you really believe that YOU could do a better job managing creation than the job God is doing today? You do and that’s why you complain. That’s why we grumble and murmur and gossip and nitpick. Because we basically think we are smarter than everyone else… including God. Let God be God.

The Heavenly Father who goes through the trouble of numbering the very hairs of your head will not let you fall into the clutches of the enemy. The merciful God who sent His eternally begotten Son into the world is never going to leave you, forget you, abuse you, neglect you, reject you or betray you. You are precious to Him. Those of you who have children, you love your children. But the love you feel for those dear babies who are so helpless and dependent is nothing compared to the love which God, your Father, has for you. And just as you would never do anything to harm your babies, God, your Father, will never harm you. Oh, sometimes circumstances get so mixed up that you might have to hurt your child in order to help her, but everything you do – even if the child does not understand your reasons – everything you do is for their benefit. And if you who are weak and sinful can love your children that completely, imagine the overwhelming powerful compassion the great King of Heaven, your Father and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, has for you. For I am telling you that He spared no expense to save you. He spared not His only Son, the eternal Son. But instead sent Him with a mission to rescue us from ourselves, our bad choices, our foolish mistakes, our stubborn rebellions, not because we deserved it, but because He wanted to. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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