In the Silence You Find God

It is hard to find Christ in crowded places.
We need solitude.
If your heart is attentive,
God allows himself to be seen.
In the crowd you find noise,
in the silence you find God.

Do not be afraid
To throw yourself on the Lord!
He Will not draw back
And let you fail!
Put your worries aside
And throw yourself on him:
He will welcome you,
And heal you.

Saint Augustine Confessions 8.11

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Mini Manna: God Must Be Busy

Brooks and Dunn

The country music duo Brooks and Dunn, performed their song “God Must Be Busy” on the Country Music Awards (CMA) last night. In this sad and moving piece, Ronnie Dunn sings a long list of horrible problems, and expresses the frustration that God isn’t stepping in to set things right.

The song is about doubt. Not the doubt of God’s existence, but that he is not an active and caring God, evidenced by his lack of intervention on the behalf of those petitioning Him.

What, I think, is really conveyed in the song is the conflict created by free will. Most bad things happen because God gives a radical freedom to his people. In this freedom, God does not assert his power over individual will and choices, and allows the consequences to play out. So while God allows bad things to result, he does not cause bad things to happen. God loves us and grieves with us in our pain.

If God is not sending the tragedies, then why not, with his omnipotence, step in and prevent them? At times we experience miracles that suggest the presence of the Divine, but generally we don’t experience much physical intervention.

So is God just too busy? What is God’s role in all this turmoil? Only by coming to terms with a most horrible time in my life, have I come to a personal understanding of the role God plays when tragedies confront me.

God’s role, I feel, is to embrace me, to comfort me, to “lead me beside still waters… [and] restore my soul” as I walk through my personal “Valley of Death“. His “intervention” is to help me heal; help me collect the pieces broken by experience; help me to become Whole again. Whole as I was intended; Whole as I was “wonderfully made”; Whole as I was when “knitted together in my mother’s womb”.

Mini Manna: By Grace Through Living Faith

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
~~ Ephesians 2:8-9

You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.
~~ James 2:24

Are these two passages contradictory?

The two passages are not really in conflict, because James and Paul were each talking about two different kinds of works and emphasizing different aspects of salvation.

Paul emphasized that the grace of God saves, and man cannot earn his salvation by merit. The fact that God’s grace saves, does not relieve us of the responsibility to obey God in order to receive the benefits of that grace.

We are saved by many things:

  • “For in this hope we were saved” (Romans 8:24).
  • “…he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” (Hebrews 5:9)
  • “… the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
  • “and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also…” (1 Peter 3:21).

All of these save because salvation is “by grace through faith” . That faith is a Living Faith.

A living faith is a faith that works, that obeys the commands of Christ. When we let God’s love flow around us, cover us and support us it leads us to a living faith. A living faith manifested through the “fruit of the spirit“: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.