Reading Through The Bible in 2011, Part 7

What I Read Today: Genesis 18-21.

What Stood Out: All four chapters.

Random Thoughts About What I Read:

So let me see if I get all this straight, okay?

Some visitors show up and Abraham shows them detailed hospitality. The visitors bring stunning, but happy, news to the family…that folks nearing 100 years-old will have children. The visitors also announce that a nearby valley is going to get suitcase nuked due to their sin, and Abraham tries to strike a deal with God to scrap the plan. God seems agreeable to a degree.

Then some angels show up in Sodom and the locals want to defile them. A person we’d met earlier in the story tries to strike a deal with the townfolk to, ahem, sleep with his daughters instead of the visitors. They don’t agree to that deal so they’re struck blind, providing a chance for escape. Lot and his wife do escape, being warned not to look back. She does. She turns into salt. His daughters have sex with him while he’s drunk and bear children who would lead nations that were enemies of Israel.

Just when I’m getting the idea of just how seriously God takes sin…

…Abraham lies again. To a king. Who God deals with by striking his household with infertility until the whole mess is sorted out.

Then the promised son is born. Sarah feels threatened again by the teenager Ishmael and again banishes Hagar from the household (a stark contrast to the hospitality shown to the visitors earlier). Near death, the banished mom and young man have God show them a life-saving well they were close to. Then a deep description of worship is given because of what appears to be a simple treaty between two powerful people.

And I don’t know how to comprehend it all, because in these four chapters there’s an awful lot of life happening.

The birth of a baby.
Some discord between a husband and wife.
A part of the city where you can’t wander around at night.
Highly visible instant consequences of sin on a grand scale.
Highly visible instant consequences of sin on a personal scale.
A business deal.
A lie told out of fear.
A relocation of family for a short time.
Deceptive children and an act in which the consequences of sin would lead to a great deal of war/bloodshed.
Family dynamics of all sorts.
The answer to the problem being almost in front of our faces, undiscovered.

I think that about covers it. Don’t you?

And there’s a lot here I can’t explain…and my attempts to explain it make me uncomfortable, anyway. Because, like everybody else, I like to pick and choose those parts about God that I like and pretend that’s all there is to Him.

But that’s not what stands out to me, really.

What does is the reality that God is at work. And nothing is happening that He’s not involved in and aware of.

God is at work in strange and wonderful and mysterious ways…

…in something as simple as a mom sitting in a hospital waiting room while her son has shoulder surgery.
…in something as complex as terrorist threats in England.
…in something as simple as teenagers hanging out in the lobby before their movie.
…in something as complex as a marriage.
…in something as simple as the lies we tell.
…in something as complex as providing for our family.
…in something as simple as a grandparent playing with their toddling grandchildren.
…in something as complex as a multi-million dollar business deal taking place in a skyscraper in New York City.
…in something as simple as a pastor leading a worship service.
…in something as complex as wartime in Afghanistan.
…in something as simple as a sunrise.
…in something as complex as a sunrise.

I could go on.
But you get the idea, right?

God is there.
God is at work.
Even when we don’t feel it.
Even when we don’t see it.
Even when it looks like chaos.
Even when it looks unfair.

Even when it looks and feels like a Grand Canyon is between us and Him…

…knowing that He is there…
…and at work in the big and the small…
…and fully aware of the details of the second and the big picture of all of human history…
…and unsurprised by what stuns and paralyzes us…


…that’s more than enough for me today.

Because what I know it true.
And what I feel and see often lie.

And the reality that He is true,
and truth,
and there,
should make us worship, even when we just shake hands over a business deal.

(Tomorrow’s Reading: Genesis 22-25)