A powerful and gracious God

October 1st, 2019

The Creation accounts and early interactions of God and God’s people are striking. God simply spoke, and the world came into being. God put into place the sun, the moon and an awe-inspiring array of stars and planets. God dug into earth’s topsoil; formed the first human; and breathed into his nostrils, bringing him to life. God miraculously made Sarah and Abraham first-time parents at ages 90 and 100. God worked in and through the conniving scoundrel Jacob to continue forming the people God had begun with Abraham and Sarah.

It’s certainly easy to become enthralled with the displays of God’s power and control throughout these early years. But alongside that power lies a more subtle quality of the Divine we might miss if we read these familiar Scriptures too quickly. It’s the careful notice of God that the first human was alone and needed a perfect companion and the meticulous way God met that need. It’s the regret and heartbreak God felt at the sin of Eve and Adam and their flagrant dishonesty when God confronted them about it. It’s the tender act of God making clothes for them before sending them out of the garden.

Of this gracious deed Frederick Buechner writes, “They can’t go back, but they can go forward clothed in a new way — clothed, that is, not in the sense of having their old defenses again behind which to hide who they are and what they have done but in the sense of having a new understanding of who they are and a new strength to draw on for what lies before them to do now.”[1]

It’s a reality we see over and over again in the pages of Scripture, in the lives of people through whom God worked. Their encounters with God left them invariably and irrevocably changed, “clothed in a new way,” with a new purpose and direction, a new understanding of themselves and of God, and a new strength because of their relationship with the Almighty.

What God promised Jacob, God also promises us: “I am with you now, I will protect you. . . . I will not leave you until I have done everything that I have promised you” (Genesis 28:15).

[1] From Listening to Your Life, by Frederick Buechner (Harper San Francisco: 1992), page 70.

This post was also published at Christian Living in the Mature Years.

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