Thursday, December 2

Small, Medium, or Large? How do you take your Theology?

My sweet Ladybug says funny things sometimes often constantly. She is a source of laughter and light in my life. Sometimes she makes things up, sometimes she pulls them from the back of her memory.

Today at the homeschool co-op, seemingly out of nowhere, she said, "God will protect us when we are inside a fire."
Obviously she was remembering the Bible story when three of Daniel's buddies (teenagers, at the time) were thrown into a fiery furnace for refusing to worship the king's false idol. (It's entirely possible she was recalling the time, 3 years ago, when Jeremy's grandmother's hundred-year-old house burned down, and Jeremy's aunt and grandmother escaped safely. But Ima go with the Daniel bit for now.)
The thing that always blows me away about the story of Rack, Shack and Benny is that they never once wavered on the question of the Lord's Sovereignty and provision. They were confident that God would keep them safe in the midst of inescapable danger. HOWEVER. They told the king that even if God chose not to save them from the fire, they would still not bow down, and would die for their firm belief in the Lord.

When my Ladybug made the statement that God would keep us safe in the middle of a fire, I was hesitant to answer her. I finally came up with, "Yes, baby. God can keep us safe in a fire. But let's not play with matches anyway."

Small Theology:
There is a difference between what God can do, and what He will do.
Yes. I tweeted.

Medium Theology:
We as Christians take that as it stands. We accept that God, in His omnipotence, can do anything. We also accept that God, in His sovereignty, will not always do what we think/hope/pray He will do. It can certainly be a hard pill to swallow. We are told over and over throughout the Bible that we will be taken care of. That God supplies for our needs. That He protects us. That everything good comes from the Lord, and that all things work together for good for those who love Him.

Large Theology:
So, why is that so hard to understand? The Sovereignty of God is one of the most difficult aspects of Christianity. I don't even pretend to fully grasp the doctrine. But. I know the difference in God Can, and God Will, and I trust that God will be gracious and that God is filled with mercy and that His will will be done, even when we flat out don't get it.

Exhibit A:
My husband's sister died in her sleep, completely unexpectedly, on April 21st, 2007. She was 36. She had been married for seven years, and had three children, ages 4, 3, and 13 months. She was a very strong Christian, she was not without fault, but overall she was a really great gal. How is it that her death is for the good?
We don't know. Now. It may be that her children grow up with an acute sensitivity to loss, and go into the ministry to counsel those experiencing grief. It may be that her faith walk affected one of her coworkers and they gave their life to Christ. We. don't. know. But we believe. Yes, it was awful and heartbreaking  and, in an earthly mindset, unfair.
I heard once that this life is like a great tapestry, with God as the Supreme Weaver, and we can only see the underside. The bottom view is full of twisted thread. It is knotted in places. It has strings that have been clipped. But the top of the tapestry is perfectly formed and more breathtakingly beautiful that we can even imagine. Moral of the story: to us, here, things look crappy sometimes. But on the other side, in God's realm, things are always as they should be. And they are good.

Exhibit B:
My husband's father died, after a very short battle with cancer, on August 8th, 2008. He was a healthy man- never smoked, hadn't had a drop of alcohol in decades, never ate junk, hiked the Grand Canyon just months before his death. By all standards, he was in perfect health, except for the cancer. He was also one of the most educated, most God-filled, most humble, most spiritual people I've ever had the blessing of knowing.
The good in his death was crystal clear.
Yes, the loss of his life was mourned by hundreds. He left behind a wife of 37 years who still needed him. His time with his children and grandchildren was cut woefully short. But.
When he knew that the cancer was gaining on him, he stepped up his personal ministry. He spoke about the Lord to everyone he encountered. Everyone. He spoke at our church on Easter Sunday about the blessings he'd received in his life- and about the death of his daughter and the death of his mother and his walk with cancer. In the hospital, days before he died, he witnessed to one of his pulmonology technicians. I know with absolute certainty that his death, and life, brought people closer to the Lord. And that was the only thing he ever hoped for.
The good in his death was the furthering of God's kingdom, the spreading of God's Word.

Do You Want Fries with That?:
The side item of this (way super extra long) post is this:
There are three ways God can when it comes to the fire.
1) God can spare you from it completely. God could have struck ol' Nebuchadnezzer down where he stood, saving Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego from the fire altogether.
2) God can bring you through the furnace and come out unharmed.
He let the three faithful servants stand in the fire, and brought them out without even the smell of smoke on their clothes. Their lives were a testament to what God can do.
3) God can let you walk through the flames, and bring you out on the other side.
God can, and often does, bring the ones we love to the greatest good there is- Home. While it doesn't ever really serve our earthly purposes or desires, when a fellow believer reaches Heaven, it is right for us to rejoice that they are in the presence of the Lord.

What God will do, is not for us to know. It is for us to trust.
And that can be incredibly frustrating, but it can also be astoundingly freeing. When we learn to trust the Lord, every fear falls to the wayside. Yes, there will be sadness. Yes, there will be pain. But yes, it is for. our. good.

Now. Let's finish this meal with a milkshake. My head hurts, how 'bout yours?



  1. Pastor Jimmy's wife Jill (you know who I mean) once told me, in the midst of her battle with cancer: sometimes God calms the storm, but sometimes God lets the storm rage and calms his child instead. God may or may not save us from the fire. But even if we must suffer, God suffers with us, and God never leaves us. I'm not sure I believe got often or usually protects people from things like fire anymore. But I do believe God never leaves us.

  2. Uh, that should say "God" not "got" in that next to last line. I'm clearly losing it.

  3. After two friends died unexpectedly, I struggled with God "can" vs. "will."
    I came back to the same conclusion you have every time I went over it in my head: I just have to trust.
    In the mean time, I wear my seat belt, hide matches from Monkey Boy and get regular checkups. No need to test out the can vs. will.

  4. Gods will is perfect. The pot cannot question the Potter. God can and does perform miracles through doctors and medicine. That does not always mean that is His will. He will never give us more than we can handle. An example from a story I heard once, forgive me for not remembering who the author is. A Jewish father and his daughter were boarding a Nazi train heading to certain death. The little girl looked up at her father and said she did not think she could handle the torture. Her father bent down to her level and said when we went on vacations did i give you your train ticket a week before we left? Did I give you your train ticket the day before we left? She replied with a no. I gave you your train ticket right before you needed it. So will your Heavenly Father give you your strength right before you need it most.


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