Monday, June 16, 2008

It takes a lifetime

I finished my first day of Old Testament! Before I hit the books to study some more, I thought I'd share just one of the many insights I brought home from the class today. I've been intrigued by many interesting thoughts presented both in my readings for the class and the actual lecture. But I am ending the day with one particular idea - which is typical thus far of my MHGS experience. My brain is so overloaded with new discoveries and challenges and I seem to only be capable of holding onto the ideas that speak to my heart in the moment.

Today we discussed the hermeneutical challenge of reading Scripture (which basically boils down to wrestling with how we interpret Scripture) and we began to delve into the various genres presented throughout the Old Testament. Based upon the similarities between Deuteronomy and a couple of Ancient Near Eastern treaties that were recovered, we explored the covenental theology evident from essentially the onset of the Old Testament and on through the New Testament. That is my summary of nearly 6 hours of lecture. And out of all of that fascinating stuff, I came away with one simple thought about Abraham after examining the implications of God's covenental relationship with him.

We discussed the ways in which God would reaffirm his covenant with Abraham after each time that Abraham (or Abram at the time) apparently screwed things up or took matters into his own hands. There were moments throughout his journey where he seemed to get it and he allowed God to do his thing. There were plenty of other moments where Abraham attempted to take matters into his own hands (selling out his wife for his own protection and taking his servant to conceive a descendant are great examples of such faithless moments). But ultimately it wasn't until much later in his life that he finally totally GOT IT (or as close as it is humanly possible to totally GET IT) at least for a moment. This moment came when he placed his beloved son upon the alter. I still struggle to comprehend this entire story - and this particular scene most especially - but this notion of how long it takes to develop and learn faithfulness stirred me in a new way today!

I find comfort in knowing that father Abraham struggled to learn faithfulness throughout most of his life. He had moments of glory and moments of huge disappointment - and eventually his faith was able to move mountains (there is more symbolism to this statement than I have time to elaborate upon at the moment). His life-long struggle puts my heart at ease...and simultaneously stirs it up. I find it quite daunting to consider that this wrestling of my soul may last for some time. So...I'm trying to hold this ambivalence (imagine that) as I dig deeper into the mysteries of this Bible of ours.

1 comment:

:::No Longer Mute said...

i love it when a familiar story brings new meaning. its funny because i was reading Romans today and chapter 4 mirrors Abraham's story out of the old testament...the part about how Abraham was justified by his faith. but the part that stuck out to me was that he was justified before he was circumcised. meaning, it wasn't because he followed the law (since it didn't even exist before his own circumcision) but rather because he was faithful. and chapter 4 illustrates how it wasn't even his faithfulness, but God's continued faithfulness to the covenant that he made that gave Abraham a chance to be justified.

so - i guess two things. 1. we're not justified by how closely we follow the law. and 2. we can try and try to be faithful - but in the end, its God's faithfulness to us that is the grace that allows us the opportunity for justification.