Saturday, September 16, 2006

"I have made, and I will bear"

Well, it's been six days in Istanbul now, and I must say that I'm pleased with how things are going (a bit of digestive disagreement notwithstanding): if anything, my Turkish has improved, and daily sundries are like old hat. On top of that, I really like my roommates so far. One of them, Ryan, is an even bigger theology geek than I am: he's studied Greek for two semesters and brought along the entire Christian Origins and the Question of God series by N. T. Wright!

Naturally, Ryan, Anthony, and I ended up having an hour-long conversation about the ways the Holy Spirit works within us to renew our wills and desires. Discussion drifted into competing philosophies (if one can even peg Christianity as a "philosophy"; we were talking about spirit-matter dualism) and how "people"* use these to excuse their own sins and keep away from the Lord Christ. But that little spark inside reminded me a lesson I've had to learn from seeing friends drift far away from fellowship with the Lord:
If it wasn't entirely for God's faithfulness to me and his powerful sustaining of my own faith, I would've shipwrecked long ago.

It's so easy to wag my finger and shake my head in no small bit of smug condescension at those who reject Jesus or fail to "get it." But if it weren't for God, I'd be no different. Every earnest prayer, every loathing of my sin, every longing for God, every whispered confession of Jesus as Savior, every hope for the life to come--these I owe entirely to God, as he continues to work faith in me.

Sometimes I wonder, Why on earth does he fight so fiercely for me? Why does my Father, like an eagle clutching me within its talons, still keep me and never let me slip?

Listen to me, O house of Jacob,
all the remnant of the house of Israel,
who have been borne by me from before your birth,
carried from the womb;
even to your old age I am he,
and to gray hairs I will carry you.
I have made, and I will bear;
I will carry and will save.

To whom will you liken me and me make equal,
and compare me, that we may be alike?
(Isaiah 46:3-5)

*As if this were only restricted to others and not to the three of us! "Nathan said to David, 'You are the man!' " (2 Sam. 12:7).

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