Dear Inspiration Seekers,
Twice last week, the Vicar called to check on us. First, after the Mineral, VA earthquake, and second, after Hurricane Irene. In both cases, we skimmed by the events, experiencing a bit of shaking and a couple of thunderstorms. I am old enough to remember such events being called “Acts of God”, though now we refer to them as “Natural Disasters”. As we had little excitement to report, other than making BBQ sauce, the Vicar and I moved on to other topics. He mentioned that he would be filling in for the teaching at a nearby church this past Sunday, using Jeremiah 29:11 as his topic. As I am between my father’s dissertations on Romans and Galatians, I thought I would check into this reference. ” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord…”. This brings up some interesting thoughts about the nature of God’s relationship to people.
I suspect that the phrase, “Acts of God”, developed because the Old Testament has many stories about plagues, storms, earthquakes, etc., which coincided with God knocking some message into somebody’s head. We might interpret these as God’s attempt to get our attention, give us direction, or bring retribution for disobedience. Or, we might interpret these as people incorporating phenomenon around them into their belief systems. The Vicar and I tend to lean toward each of these opinions. God uses events around is as a means of communicating. Amazing coincidences occur.
” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ” What I found interesting about this passage, was the direct quote from God, transcribed by Jeremiah. Jeremiah does not say “The Lord told me…”, or, “The Lord revealed to me…”. No, this verse occurs in a letter (chapter 29) from Jeremiah to the exiled Jews in Babylon. Most of the letter is Jeremiah quoting the Lord. It is pretty direct.
Someone who leans toward the theology of no theo in the ology, would probably discount this as people making up stuff to influence other people. Someone who leans toward the theology of a distant life-creation force, which does not have direct interaction other than keeping the laws of nature going, might pass this off as people looking for more than they can find. Someone who leans toward the theology of God needing a church hierarchy to intercede for the common parishioner, might see this as Jeremiah going between the Lord and the exiled Jews. Some who leans toward the theology of a personal relationship with God, probably does not understand why those other people miss the point.
Regardless of how we might approach such a direct communication, a question arises as to why such explicit interaction and understanding of God’s use of natural phenomenon, writing on walls, and prophets occurred at this time in history and not now. Do we blind ourselves, of current attempts for God to communicate to us, by our conceptualization of laws of physics and nature being scientific, thus occurring of their own properties? Do we become confused and disenchanted by the current day prophets, who say that 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina occurred because the USA harbors homosexuals, or who say that Muslims should carry out jihad against Western Culture’s evil, or who rant about God (and whom we believe need anti-psychotic or mood stabilizing medications)? Are we just too busy and distracted by the latest movie or sporting event to worry about the state of our society, politics, and faith communities?
I shall not be able to answer these questions nor the theological debates. However, I shall postulate that how we interpret the verse in Jeremiah probably has more to do with our established beliefs, than what is written. Rather than God’s relationship to us, we see this as our relationship to God. If the Lord sent out a Tweet, “OMG, I’v got plan 4 U”, we would probably let our belief systems filter this out as personal or spam. Me? I do not have a cell phone, so I shall have to look for messages elsewhere. Maybe God has a blog somewhere.
OMG, the raspberries need to be picked! Back to Farm Life.
Until next time, Inspiration Seekers