Monday, August 02, 2010

Great and unsearchable things

As I was preparing for Sunday's talk I wanted to check a Bible reference quickly, so I turned it up just to make sure I was quoting the correct verse. I was looking for Jer. 31:3 I have loved you with an everlasting love. On my way to the correct verse I bumped into another verse in Jeremiah that usually catches my attention when I find myself reading this prophet.

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.

I wonder to myself what might those great and unsearchable things be? Not an easy question to answer given that I don't know them in the first place because God hasn't revealed them to me yet! And that's not being flippant, it's an admission that in fact until God chooses to show me these things, whatever they are, I simply can't know what they actually are.

There are times when we all come to God and ask him to show us something, but all too often we come with an assumption about what that is going to be. A couple of weeks ago now I told my baseball story, the one about God answering my rather daft prayer for a baseball to come out of the stadium near where I was sitting. As I introduced the story I asked a simple question: What shape do you expect the answers to your prayers to be? It's a more profound question than even I thought at the time.

Of course the baseball wasn't the shape of the answer I was expecting. I expected God to say no to be honest. It was a rather ridiculous request after all. But I got the baseball and yet that wasn't actually the answer. The real prayer that was hidden away in there somewhere was this: "God, what are doing with my life? Tell me where to go and what to do next." Instead I got a baseball and a question: Do you trust me? Not an audible question, just in case you think I have some hotline to heaven, but just that sense that something is going on here and I think God is trying to get something through to me.

So, when I read this verse in Jeremiah I'm rather cautious about trying to define what "great and unsearchable" might mean.  Then again, I'm unlikely to find out unless I ask. We're unlikely to find out unless we ask.

Having asked we then have to face the tricky task of being observant enough to realise what we are seeing. Perhaps "great and unsearchable" might look rather mundane and ordinary if we've predefined it as miraculous and extraordinary. How different might our perspective be if we were more aware of what God is doing under our noses.

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