Faith Reflections

Risk and Paradox

The kingdom Jesus preached is an environment that does not fear looking upside-down to others. It involves risks; sometimes very small ones, sometimes great leaps of faith, standing upon nothing except the promises of the Bible, what some call “blind faith”, or, disparagingly, “foolishness”.

In this universe He created, God has set forth many paradoxes. Jesus and others through history have blazed their trails, proving, incredulously, the validity of these paradoxes as lives and indeed kingdoms and institutions have been revolutionized through the proactive love and demonstration of the Spirit’s power by a servant-king’s empowered disciples. To be first, one must become last. To become great, one must be humble. To become rich, one must realize one’s poverty. To live, one must die to oneself, taking up the cross daily. Remember that though paradoxes appear at first not to be true, they prove true through experience.

In the struggle of the early morning wake-up routine after a night of interrupted sleep, today’s dark, frosty dawn presented me with a choice testing my faith in one such paradox: do I go with the feelings, emotions and desires of my body, which would have been quite happy to sleep in (just 10 more minutes . . . ) or do I trust God when he says that if I put His kingdom first (how applicable that verse is in the ‘first’ light of the day), that all other things shall be added, supernaturally and generously, to me by my loving Father.

Too often I allow the outside world to dictate what I feel on the inside. This might sound very normal; indeed, it is the normal experience of many people to be bombarded and bullied each day by externals. We find ourselves affirming things we don’t believe, agreeing to things we don’t want, and failing to do things we should. However in the Bible I see a different way of living: one where our internal atmosphere has authority over external circumstances, starting with God’s initial creative act. Elijah’s prayer changes the weather. Jesus’ confidence could not be swayed by governors. Peter’s command heals the cripple.

So rolling out of bed, I grabbed my Bible and Henri Nouwen’s Life of the Beloved and under the reading light I began to ingest words that would nourish me, as I am promised in the Proverbs. Indeed, if I eat no other food today, I am blessed by God. I am empowered by a sterling strength superior to my own variable energy level. I have what I really need.

By God’s grace and his gifts, I can stand and win against the pangs of hunger, loneliness, failure, and even death, for Jesus has conquered them all for us.

Though the spiritual life holds much in tension with human perception, the securities we are given are plentiful. Great and numerous are the promises of God’s Word. His heart is set towards us with a consuming and exultant love. I am His beloved. Here’s another paradox: His power is made perfect in our weakness. May our minds be utterly renewed.

Flickr photo (cc) by kern.justin