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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Hunting God

This is my best question lately: What is God up to? I'm writing this post sitting in a hallway at Bethel University, where I just a few minutes ago read a quote from a previous president of Bethel. He said we should not ask "Are we able to do this?" but rather we should ask, "Is God in this?" If God is in something, we should pursue that no matter whether in human terms we are able to do a thing or not.

It's been a long day already and I didn't get a ton of sleep last night, so I'm not sure I'm being clear -- but I believe this is life-changing important. If I ask, "Am I able to do this?" I am concerned about my agenda, my chosen course of action, my resources. If I ask, "Is God in this?" I am concerned to know God's heart, God's agenda, God's priority, God's provision. Then I must follow his lead for all I'm worth.

So lately I find myself asking, "What is God up to?" I ask this a lot when circumstances around me are confusing, when events unfold in a way that I don't expect or desire. What is God up to? Why is he allowing this, or perhaps even causing it? What is he doing in the middle of it? I asked this a lot when I was confined to my hospital room at North Memorial in September. Now I am asking it again anticipating tomorrow's vote at Central.

So far my track record with this question is not great. I have not (thus far) had any great epiphany moment where I have suddenly understood the mind of God in its completeness (good thing, too, because there would be a little pile of smoking ashes where I used to be sitting). No, I get to see tiny slivers of God's agenda. I get to see a glimpse here and there, through the smoke and fog.

Lately I've seen several glimpses. I watched dozens of people stand at microphones during Central's forums sharing their stories, the stories of God's faithfulness in their lives. After standing at the mike and saying these things under the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit -- whatever their views on the social issues at hand -- they cannot sit down unchanged. God was up to something.

I have received multiple, multiple emails from people who share with me that they have started reading the Bible through this whole controversy, or started praying, or praying more, or praying more fervently. I hear from people who suddenly recognize that they have been coasting, and this flap has moved them to seek God and his agenda for their lives in a new way. God is up to something.

I hear a new concern among God's people for the integrity and meaning of the Bible. Not in a wooden, legalistic sense at all but as people who long to hear a clear word from God who are finding him in this ponderous book. People are reading not just because it's a good idea, but because they're hungry for God. He's up to something, and they want to be a part of it.

People have come to me on the edge of tears to tell me that their church matters. Matters a LOT. They are learning that God's Spirit is moving in this fallible, human, messed-up bunch of people who love Jesus.

God is up to something. He's changing hearts, opening minds, creating faith and breaking down strongholds. But that's just what God does. As my daughter would say, he's just cool like that. So I keep looking around, keep watching for him and his distinctive fingerprints. Feel free to join me. And oh, by the way, it doesn't hurt to ask him once in a while, "What are you up to?" My experience says don't expect a straight answer right off the bat -- but keep asking the question.

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