I remember before my wife and I became parents we would often talk about how we would never tell our kids, “because I said so”. We both had always felt like this was a parental cop-out and were therefore determined to be able to help our children understand the reasoning and the logic behind every request that we placed upon them. As of today however, the running tally of how many times we have said, “because I said so” is roughly about 4,607,322…not that anyone is keeping track. Because sometimes you look at your amazingly beautiful, precious child and the amount of frustration boils up as your patience continues to wear thin and you just want them to understand your request but you really have nothing left and “because I said so” becomes that very necessary trump card.
Strangely enough though, I see a bit of Divine resonance in the phrase, “because I said so”. But I think it is all about where the emphasis is placed (did you see my hint?). There is a Psalm that kind of helped me to understand this a little more recently and it is probably familiar to many of you. Psalm 19 begins this way, “The heavens declare the glory of God…” It then goes through an incredible description of God’s glory and majesty and all that He has created and then it interjects with the following phrase, “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.” Psalm 19:7 It goes from all the splendor and glory of creation to a description of the law…huh? But what I see the Psalmist presenting before us is a case for God being able to say, “because I said so” So often we see the law of God and we simply see it as a list of what not to do and what to avoid and how we will get punished if we step out of line. But for the Psalmist the law was born out of the love that God, the God who made everything, had for us.
Now think about that love for a minute. God gave us stars and planets and nebulas and quasars and all of these amazing things to display His glory. God gave us cells and synapses and electrons and mitochondria and DNA to amaze and grab our attention. And God gave us His law, His instruction because He is the same God who created all those things and He may know a little about how life works best. So His law is not a limitation of life…it is an amplification of how life works best. Often times this is how I feel when I am trying to convey to my children why I want them to do something. I’ve been around longer, I’ve seen more life than you and I know how this all plays out. I don’t want you to do something because I am mean or conniving, but rather the opposite. “Because I said so” is a reflection of my love for you, because it’s me…and I know how I feel about You. May we come to feel the same way about the law of the Lord so that we can reflect alongside the Psalmist in the concluding verse of Psalm 19, “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
Come closer…just for a second. I want to tell you something..
God loves you.
That may not seem like the most earth shattering thing you will hear today, but I want to contend that perhaps it should be.
God. The infinite source of all life. The space in which space takes shape. The ever expanding reality from which galaxies spin into existence. The creative spark that gave birth to light, sound and energy itself. The imagination that hewed mountains and rivers and planets and stars. The same God who intimately looked into our world and gave life to flowers, trees, animals and man. The mind that dreamed into existence all that is. This same God loves you.
The God who understands the fathomless depths to which all knowledge can go. Who holds together the smallest atoms, cells and ultimately the universe itself. The God who takes delight in the quirkiness of platypus’s (sp?) and tarsiers, yet engineers a world that delivers breathtaking sunsets and sunrises. The God who can comprehend everything that is instantaneously without sleeping or slumbering or even batting an eye. This same God loves you.
How do I know this? It’s a mystery. It’s a mystery that this same God would choose to love us in our brokenness and ineptitude. It’s a mystery that this same God would choose to enter into our situation; being born like us, growing up like us and even dying at our hands. It’s a mystery that this is the limitless bounds to which God’s love would go. That God, the infinite, incomprehensible reality loves you and I so much that he would move death and hell itself to restore relationship with us. Paul made it known in this way, “…the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” – Colossians 1:27
So what does it mean to say that God loves you? Does it mean that all your problems will magically vanish in this reality? On the contrary…God’s love doesn’t magically change the brokenness of this present age; that part is on us. It rains on both the righteous and the wicked. But God’s love does promise this…if I live into and out of the grace that God extended through His love, then the story does not end here. There is a promise attached to that love. One day, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away…[God is] making everything new!”- Revelation 21:4-5 So while we may not be promised riches or fame or power (it would probably be best if we avoided these) we are promised a mystery beyond this life that makes no sense.
So maybe hear these words again and allow them to flow through you today in a new way…
God Loves You.
In the beginning…
These are words that spark a variety of responses from different folks. Some might hear the beginning of a story. Others might think about their family and how it started. For those of the Judaeo-Christian camp we know where this phrase leads, “…God created the heavens and the earth.” But sometimes we don’t think about the way the rest of the story goes and how it applies to the way in which we live today. The story continues: God separates the light from darkness, the sky from water and the land from the sea. He then fills in the spaces He has created and after He has filled in these spaces He says that it is good. The crown of creation after all of this is God’s selem; His image. He creates mankind in His image as a reflection of Himself and then God stops. We often refer to this stopping as the Sabbath rest but literally God is allowing space for creation and Creator to pause, breathe, reflect and it is called good.
I want to return to that idea of mankind being made in God’s image. Because I believe that there is something in this story that we miss if we simply try to break this down to a line by line account of how and not necessarily why. On days one through three God creates space. On days four through six God fills in that space and on day seven He pauses to look at all that has been done. If we are made in that same image, then how does our life reflect the life of a creator God? Do we make space in our lives for God’s creative Spirit to blow through us and allow new and good things to be created? Or are we so busy filling our lives with our own concerns that there is no space for His Spirit to work? The writer of Genesis understood that there was a rhythm to life. The seventh day was necessary to allow one to reorient, to recast the vision of how one leads their lives and then to move on from there. But if that rhythm is missing, can we be a complete selem?
The writer of the Psalms knew a little about this idea when he penned the words, “He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;“- Psalm 46:10. All too often in today’s world we are so busy going and doing and acquiring and earning that we don’t even realize we have taken up all the creative space inside of our selves and left no room for the Spirit of God to work. I belong to a tradition where we consider ourselves to be people who live by the presence of the Spirit of God. But if we don’t make space in our lives for God to work, can He? One last thought came from my reading this morning from Dennis Kinlaw today and I want to share it with you. “This personal character [creativity and love] of God and the personal character of Christianity, along with its emphasis on faith, means that God does not desire primarily obedience from us. If He wanted servile obedience, he could force it. What He really desires from us is that we should love Him so much that He is our joy, our delight, and our fulfillment” Are you making space for God to be all He can be in you today?