Thursday, December 07, 2006

Shifting Sand

Lifted from last year's monastery reflections, which I figure is OK since I never actually posted it here ...

First Thursday of Advent
Isaiah 26:1-6
Psalm 118:1, 8 and 9, 19-21, 25-27A
Matthew 7:21, 24-27

Perhaps it’s because I’ve got a student who transferred into one of my classes from New Orleans back in September, or perhaps it’s because I spent two years living and working in Cajun Country myself, but I found all three of these passages for today sending my mind repeatedly back to tsunamis and hurricanes and landslides and earthquakes.

Opening the gates, tumbling cities to the ground, winds and floods – levees, ninth wards, superdomes … is that really the imagery God wants us to take from this? “A nation that is just and keeps faith” – doesn’t that just support the people who say that the sinful New Orleans deserved its destruction? If the needy trample the lofty city underfoot, then why are they the ones most left out in the cold? How in the world does this fit?

So maybe we need to dig a little deeper. Perhaps the trust in God’s protection is the “strong” house, and trusting our own abilities builds the “weak” house. Maybe having the physical house is the “Lord, Lord”; to merely hide in the house will gain us nothing. The Three Little Pigs didn’t just hide from the Big Bad Wolf’s buffeting winds; they took action. In the same way, if we’re going to beg God to let us win the lottery, we have to at least purchase a ticket. If we insist that “My God will save me,” we must be willing to acknowledge God’s saving actions in the boats, helicopters, and friends that he sends our way.

But … sometimes the floods do come, and sometimes our faith gets shaken. Sometimes we open the gates, expecting to see how strongly we stand; sometimes we open them only to discover that our trust isn’t as solidly in the Lord as we’d like to think. But that’s when we discover what’s truly at our core.

Maybe … sometimes … it takes the buffeting winds to make us realize that we don’t always realize what our foundation is.
Waters rose as my doubts reigned
My sand-castle faith it slipped away
Found myself standing on your grace
It’d been there all the time
My faith is like shifting sand
Changed by every wave
My faith is like shifting sand
So I stand on grace
~ “Shifting Sand” by Caedmon’s Call


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