I’m currently (finally) fully listening to the newest Gungor CD, Ghosts Upon the Earth. And this lyric, from Crags & Clay, really struck me this morning, and I’ve really just been meditating on it. The past week or so, I’ve been reading through Chronicles and Revelation, finishing up reading through the Bible in a year. It’s an interesting note to end on. For 2 reasons. The first comes with Revelation. God always, always, has me reading through Revelation purposefully as I face the passing of a loved one. My freshman year, my Papaw died. A week after, we started studying through Revelation on Wednesday nights. It was so comforting to study that book really for the first time, and to just get a glimpse of where he is. Then, last week, while I was in India, his wife passed away. I found out on Friday, when I got back to Mississippi. What did I read on the last plane of the day (days, really, 48 or so hours…) was Revelation 7, the beautiful climax of the book, where a large multitude that no one could number, from every nation and language and tongue and tribe. And I just got this peace. She’s there. Before I even found out. God is good, and His steadfast love endures forever (repeating theme of Chronicles).
“Here I am, Lord, all I am. Here I am, Lord, I am Yours.” (from Every Breath)
The second reason, going back to Chronicles now, is that Chronicles is just really interesting. It is a very oddly positive look at all of the kings, devoting much space to David (the whole 1st book) and Solomon. But it really skirts around anything negative. Really, it just doesn’t mention it. It doesn’t mention anything about David and Bathsheba. Or about Solomon’s wives and how they drew him away from the Lord. Nothing. Literally, go read it. The closest it gets is a mention of the census that David sinfully takes, but it is quickly righted. Today I begin the other kings of the kingdom. It skips over a mention that the kingdom has split. And though I haven’t read it yet, I know it gives a very interesting account of Manasseh, whom the book of Kings calls the worst king in the history of Israel. It will get a little bit less positive as it goes on, I mean, it has to, because there is about to be a destruction and exile. So interesting, right? It was very frustrating the first time I realized this, as I began to study the book. I started asking the usual “biblical studies” questions…Why would the author do this? But, for me, it did not come down to some theological reasoning that made sense due to the time it was written in or anything, although knowing that might deepen the reason I came to. It came down to a personal reason, which will bring me back to the lyric I started out with.
“Come back, my love. Come back.” (from Ezekiel)
But my personal reason was this: we know the rest of the story. We’ve probably read Kings. We, as humans in general, focus on the negative ALL the time. Literally. Anytime we think about David, we go to how he was a failure and a mess up. Solomon gets an even worse rap. He had thousands of wives, for goodness sake!
“This is not our last, this is not our last breath, we will open our mouths, wide, wider.” (from This is not the end)
But interestingly enough, when it comes to self-examination, we tend to focus on the good. I started reading a biography of David Brainerd, who was a missionary to Native Americans back in the 1700s. And I was amazed as I read how he came to faith: it was a long journey of trying to do all kinds of religious ritual, even after realizing how sinful he was, trying to win God’s favor. He wrote his story very negatively. We don’t do that as much. I know a couple people who do, but I know I tend to gloss over the bad things in my life. I’m bad at being transparent. I’m working on it, but it’s a struggle.
“Where have you hidden yourself, oh my beloved?” (from Vous etes mon Coure–translation, You are my heart)
As I finished up Solomon’s story, I realized that this is how God views us. He looks at us, knowing our failures and mess-ups and sins, past, present and FUTURE (that one really blows me away), and yet still chooses to use us. Solomon got to build his house, even though God knew that not only would he misuse it, but every king after him, except a few, would also fill it with, to use a big word that the Bible uses, “abominations.” That is how God looks at us. Beautiful, despite the flaws that are present and even those that no one else sees. He sees them, and he still looks at us and says, “Yes. You. Let me use you.”
“Rejoice, all you who are poor, the kingdom is yours. Both sinner and saved, the kingdom is yours.” (from Wake Up)
I was overwhelmed. And I pray that I stay overwhelmed in that fact. But not in inaction, but action. People need this. The world needs this. As I read Revelation 13 last night, I read about a beast that is coming, that will have dominion over every nation and language and tongue and tribe. And, though this too may not be very theologically sound, I wrote beside that verse (7) that we must go to them before this beast does. Yes. Because the same God who looks at me and says I’m beautiful, looks at them and says the same. He created us all, and He wants us all in a relationship with him, to worship Him above all else. But how can they believe unless they are told? How can they be told unless someone goes to them? (Romans 10:14-15).
“When death dies, all things comes alive. Gravestones roll. All things live.” (from When death dies)