Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Stuff for My Mystery Bag

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,and through him to reconcile to himself all things,whether things on earth or things in heaven,by making peace through his blood,shed on a cross (Colossians 1:19-20 NIV).
I'll be the first to admit it. There are just some things I don't understand in life.

- Children who are abused.

- Politicians who abuse the trust they're given by constituents.

- Why one person dies early and another gets to live to a ripe old age.

- People who get disproportionately angry and end up hurting themselves because of their rage.

Just to name a few. (I've got a lot more and you probably do too.)

A friend of mine once told me that his mom took such oddities in her life and mentally dumped them into what she called her "Mystery Bag". "These are the things and the people I don't understand and figure I just never will."

I decided I need to get me one of those "mystery bags". I have people and situations that just don't make sense to me and after living for a little more than four decades, some of them will probably continue to puzzle me.

But as a person of faith, on days when I'm overwhelmed by those "mysteries" that can frustrate me, wound me, or leave me angry, I have to take a step back and be reminded that somehow, somewhere, in some way, God is reconciling all things to himself.

"All" is one of those funny words that sometimes seems to throw everything off. Think about it.

I can say some people are over seven feet tall and you'd probably agree with me.
But if I said, "All people are over seven feet tall" you'd be quick to point out such a statement is ludicrous.

Likewise, I could say "God works some things for our good" and that would be easy to believe. But if I said, "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him and have been called, according to His purpose" that would be a little more difficult for us to stomach at times, right?

So there is this audacious statement: God is reconciling all things to himself.

All things? Really? I am tempted to ask God, "Do you know what I know? Do you STILL want to say 'all things'?" (Silly, huh? But be honest, there are times and there are days you wonder the same thing.)

I decided I needed a better understanding of the word "reconcile" so I looked it up. Webster's Dictionary says that "to reconcile" is to "Restore to a state of harmony after a break in relations."

Broken. A break. Maybe now we're getting somewhere.

It is certainly easy for me to slap the "broken" label on some of the things (and some of the people) I put in my mystery bag.

The economy: broken.

Angry people and foreclosed houses: broken.

Hopes of families who have lost their jobs: broken.

People who look for help in the wrong places, wrong things, and wrong people: broken.

People who seem to always see the worst, believe the worst, and react in the worst possible way: broken, broken, broken.

So for now it's like we're looking through a dark glass or window. We know things aren't quite right. But we trust, we hope, we believe that the Gospel is truly God's Good News for us. That God is reconciling all things to himself. Not just "some". Not even "most". All.

May it be so. And may you and I look at those difficult people and difficult situations a little differently today.

Grace & peace

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