I often have the most awesome thoughts first thing in the morning, when I am half awake. Maybe things have been sorting themselves out in my sleep. Maybe it's because I'm relaxed enough to be listening? Anyway, since the "dying" post, I have been thinking more about how God seems to do things. Using death to bring life is, in so many ways, how "God stuff" happens. He has a way of taking stuff that stinks - & turning it into something beautiful. He doesn't throw away our mistakes - He transforms them.
This isn't "Plan B" because we humans messed it up. It's the way God is! Look at the very beginning of the Bible narrative - God took dust, breathed on it, and made man. I'm no Hebrew scholar, but someone once told me that the Hebrew word we translate as "dust" can also be translated as "rubbish". So, according to the Bible (which also affirms us as incredibly, sacrificially valued and
loved by God) that's what we are: rubbish mixed with the breath of God!
Onto today's early morning mind-feast (how I love school holiday sleep-ins)! The thoughts that really captivated me as I was waking centred on an account from the life of Jesus, where He uses dirt to heal someone.
In this account, Jesus is walking along with his disciples and at the side of the road they see a blind beggar. The reaction of the disciples to this man is telling. "Did this man sin, or did his parents, that he was born blind?" they ask.
Whoa! What a judgment to make!! In their thinking (which would have been the prevailing attitude of the time) the blind beggar's plight proved that either he or his parents were filthy sinners. Judged and found guilty!! & what about the beggar himself? Beggars in third world countries are never a pleasant sight, and he must have lived his whole life (& his family too) under the scorn and contempt of his neighbours, because of his clearly sinful condition. His needs were far more than just physical.
So what does Jesus do? After first knocking the "filthy sinner" label on the head (neither sinned - this is just an opportunity for God's goodness) Jesus does something a little gross. He spits in the dirt! Then he takes the mud he has made and plasters it onto the man's eyes. He tells the man wash it off in the local pool which he does - & is healed.
If you look, really look, at this story - This is Jesus showing his disciples what God is like. Firstly, He is replicating His own original act of creation right in front of them. I think he took that "dust" and created new eyes for that man. Right there, He is saying to them "I am God" and - get this - Jesus is using the symbols of filth and scorn to do it. I'm inserting a little imagination here, but how many times in a middle-eastern culture, do you think men (especially religious men) would have spat in the dirt at the sight of that "sinful" beggar? I'm guessing it was a regular thing. Jesus takes that dirty expression of contempt, and uses it to give the man new eyes. He takes what is probably the source of the man's deepest pain - & uses THAT to heal him!
Yeaahhh! GO God!! THAT, to me, is amazing! God is not afraid to get His hands dirty with our mess. Why would He be? It's kind of how He made us in the first place! & if that's the way He made us in the first place, how is it surprising that our "rubbish" is not actually a problem to God? Whether it is our most shameful acts, our mistakes, our problems, the damage others have done to us, or just the situations we find ourselves in - we are not a "demolish and rebuild" job, as far as God is concerned. No matter how much mess we are in - or how hopelessly "dead" our dreams and hopes seem to be - if we let God breathe on our rubbish; give it and ourselves to Him - as messy as it all is - He will create something alive, vibrant and wonderful out of it.
Taking this a little further (well we have just had Easter, & people tend to talk about resurrection a bit more than usual) Death is the biggest problem any of us will face - and Jesus' death and resurrection is the most final, complete, irrefutable last word on that subject that ever needs to be said. It is the complete and final victory, and the ultimate example of the infinite, big and small ways that the breath of God transforms our rubbish - if we choose it.