Monday, August 10, 2015


The Old Testament never fails to convince me that we serve a capricious God, or at least capricious from our perspective. When God says in Romans, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion," he really means it. Mired in 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles as I am right now, I wonder at how God doles out both his mercy and his wrath. It leaves my head spinning and my spirit trembling and my mind uncomprehending. How does one love such a God as this or come to his altar in worship?

Perhaps it is not a coincidence that I have been unusually plagued by thoughts of self-doubt and self-recrimination. Sneaking in under the guise of conviction, such thoughts have stabbed my conscience like a thousand little fleas burrowing into my soul. After days of hearing my worthlessness whispered incessantly in my ears, I finally got fed up with the voices and started answering out loud with a resounding, "You're right, I'm not. But I don't have to be, because Christ was. So shut up." And they did. There followed a quiet in my soul, and I wept over the Psalms as I haven't in a long time.

I read Brendan by Frederick Buechner recently. It's a fictional account of the life of Saint Brendan. Buechner, master story teller that he is, contrasts the grit and obscenity of pagan life with the struggle of a man to live for Christ. Brendan the priest travels the world with his distraught soul, only to realize near the end that "perhaps we've given all but what he truly wants." The adventures, the self-loathing and self-deprivation, the monasteries he built - none of these is truly the work of Christ in him so much as the transformation of his heart from a loud mouthed braggart to a quiet servant of those around him.

Habakkuk is my favorite prophet because he asks for justice and receives faith. I'm beginning to realize that is how God has been answering all my requests, with faith rather than answers. So as I read through the histories this time, I'm seeking less understanding and more faith. Perhaps, just perhaps, that's what he truly wants.

Brendan by Frederick Buechner

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