Sleep on This: God the alchemist (April 15)
Good evening, friend!
Do you remember the meaning of “alchemy” from your history lessons? It was a medieval forerunner to chemistry in which the practitioner sought to turn common metals such as lead into a precious metal such as gold. Of course, it was quackery but that didn’t stop them from trying.
Delightfully, God is an alchemist of sorts. We saw that last night in Romans 5:3-5.
And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (NRSV)
God takes the basest of materials, such as our sufferings and, through a process known only to Him, converts it to pure gold: hope! The point I tried to make was, what a shame it would be if we wasted the pain of this present experience, failing to watch for how God might employ these experiences for our own transformation.
As I stated, I am very curious as to how God will use this experience to re-shape us as a congregation. What have we learned and what skills have we acquired that God might wish to use ongoing?
I’m asking the same personally. I’ve been studying the Proverbs every morning and was struck by how often they speak of treating the poor with kindness, generosity and dignity. That prompted me to rediscover how often the scriptures…the whole of the scriptures…speak of God’s love for the poor and our responsibility to them. And THAT prompted me to think of those who might be impoverished by this virus; losing jobs, losing homes, losing savings, amassing debt.
THEN I felt the Lord poking me: “How are you, Mark, personally engaged in caring for the poor?” I try to be a generous person; I have always been a tither and beyond. But most of my generosity is directed through a “middle-man;” usually, our church. Which means I have kept the poor pretty much at arm’s length. Then I began to ponder what it might mean for Cyndi and me to be more personally, prayerfully and regularly engaged with persons who have inadequate resources.
I don’t know what that means, yet. Like I said, Cyndi and I are embarked on a prayerful discernment. And I’m not asking for advice, either. I’m asking the Lord to continue this work of illumination in me. But it is one example of how I might come out the other side of this a changed person…because of the Lord’s alchemy.
Lord, as I lay me down to sleep, use these unconscious moments to speak to me about the things that matter to you…and that don’t yet matter as much to me. Please use this season of lock-down to shape me more into the disciple you have always intended. Work in me what only you can do. Amen.