Friday, August 7, 2009

God in Our Lives

Last December, trying to be on time to Nassia's preschool Christmas party in Philadelphia, I asked the Lord -- out loud, so my granddaughter would hear -- for a parking spot. After 15 minutes of circling, I had to resort to the multi-tiered garage: $8. "You didn't come through, God," I complained inaudibly. He said, "Child, you asked for a parking place and I gave you a parking place. You're the one who has a hang-up about $8."
I realize the anecdote casts me in an unflattering light, but actually it represents a progress for me. I never used to ask for parking spaces, ostensibly because it's a petty, non-kingdom-minded request, but really to protect myself, and God, from looking bad. Not to harp too much on the divine dispatching of cars, but that is after all the locus classicus of the prayer issue -- just how involved does God mean to be in our lives?
- Andree Seu, "Getting to Know Him" , World Magazine, August 15, 2009

From Chapter 21 of the Gospel of John, the way I have imagined it . . .

The day was breaking. The disciples had been fishing all night, some weeks after the terrible and unthinkable things had happened -- that He, their teacher and dearest friend, had been executed in the most horrible manner and that they, His loyal followers, had fled the scene in terror. They had abandoned Him in His hour of greatest need. They were hard put, in their thoughts, to decide which was worse, His gruesome death or their failing.

But life goes on, and men must make a living somehow. So they went back to doing what they knew. At the very least, it kept their minds and hands busy with something else.

But not tonight. They had, oddly, caught nothing at all. It made no sense. Fishing was simple: put the net down and the fish swim in. But this time, there had been nothing. Not one fish. The sun came up on the tired, hungry, and frustrated men. That was when Peter spotted the stranger, a lone figure on the shore waving at them, and a fire nearby.

"Children, you do not have any fish, do you?"

They answered him, "No."

"Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you will find a catch."

What had they to lose? Crazy as it sounded, it just might work. They tossed the net into the water on the other side and the numbers of fish that filled it made it too heavy to lift. Suddenly, John knew. This was no coincidence. He said to Peter in a voice tight with excitement, "It is the Lord."

Peter reacted as though he had been struck, whipped on his outer garment, and plunged into the cold, dark water to reach the shore by his own strokes, leaving the others behind to tend the heavy net and bring in the boat. No one minded. Peter was like that. Besides, they were all in a state of shock.

They were in shock at the sight of Jesus. Yes, they knew He had somehow been transformed after His death. He had appeared twice, briefly , in the the upper room when the door was shut. Then He was gone again.

None of them had any inkling what it meant, whether it made any difference in what they should do now. It was a wonder that they allowed it to slip into conversation between themselves, at rare moments. No one knew how to talk about it.

Here He was again. Smiling warmly, with that same penetrating look in his eyes, He stood among the rocks, sand, and driftwood. Like flesh and blood. There were scars on his hands.

The smell wafting from the fire, of hot bread and grilled fish, was nearly enough to make them weep. After the long night, they were more exhausted than they'd realized.

"Come and have breakfast," He said.

They sat, uneasily and self-consciously, while He served them. Everyone was too tired and hungry, too much in shock, to protest or to ask questions. It was enough to eat this heavenly fare, watch Him smile and glance over them the way He used to, and hear the deep, powerful voice that clung to them unlike other sounds which faded over time and space.

John realized why, after a few moments, none of the disciples were meeting His eyes.
We are all ashamed. We are ashamed because we've failed Him. Glancing at Jesus, he also realized, in a flash of insight, that He knew about the shame and was helping them move past it.

As the Lord served and smiled and chatted with them over breakfast, it became clear to each one that He was still their friend. It was just what was needed, and Jesus had always been attentive to that.

It was as though He had, by these simple things, wrapped His warmth, His trueness, His great love around their shivering and confused souls and rendered them strong again.


How involved does God mean to be in our lives? What do you think?


  1. I know what I think, but it hard presses me to put it into words. Of its truth, I believe, yet to what extent, how am I made aware? How can I know? Does a sparrow know His affirmative, tender care? But that is the point. No, how can it? Yet we bear an awareness. Perhaps my soul is like the wings of a bird that feels the wind. I place myself in the wind and am lifted. In Him. To what extent? To the extent of His love.

  2. You make me wonder, some more. To what extent, perhaps it is like the picture God has been unfolding slowly before my soul the past several weeks, saying a single something in a variety of contexts and a myriad of expressions. It was this: That He sovereignly rules (i.e., cares and tends) the details of our lives, to the end, but in the end, we are His own and to His end we belong. We're in the Shadowlands (like C.S. Lewis called this life), on this side of eternity. In other words (and He said it like this): Fear not.
    It is to that extent.
    How can we know it? He speaks, it's the words of a song, the touch of a spouse, the story of our days, both sorrow and joy, unfolded and unfolding. From now to eternity.

    It alters everything (every doubt, fear) when He reveals it and our hearts can hear.

    There ... someone else can add. Mine is only a sliver of the pie. :)

    A la mode!

  3. Oh, this is wonderful... You very nearly made me cry with your story. There is a lump in my throat. I am so glad I saw this today! Thank you for this reminder of His care for our deep hearts in the dailiness of our lives here...

  4. Through your deeply moving words, I was present on the beach that morning...

    I cannot begin to tell you how this ministered to me this morning.

    Thank you...


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