We had a water filter installed yesterday. During my year in Prague, we had to buy all of our water. So, I know better than to take drinkable water for granted.
But, apparently I still did it. It just took several weeks of drinking chorine-flavored water and consuming our emergency water bottles to realize how complacent I’d become. Now that I need to replenish our water stash and I’ve been thinking about natural disasters…I find myself comparing the life-giving and life-destroying juxtaposition of water. How much we need it and how it can devastate.
This dichotomy is in all elements of nature. Fire can keep you alive and obliterate wood, skin and bone. A breeze can cool you, make plants stronger, circulate air for health–and well–implant a piece of straw into a tree trunk.
Delicate snow flakes are pure beauty when they cascade down, but I lived in Tahoe Donner (of the Donner Party) and you need an exit on the second level of your home because snow commonly buries the first level. (I heard it did last winter. )
Isn’t God like nature in this way? I don’t think it’s an accident, but that he designed nature to reflect himself. Simultaneously gentle beauty, and deadly power.
Depending on your experience, you probably see God in only one of those two ways: kind and loving (not really concerned about what you do) or powerful and holy (ready to judge you.)
Whatever you see–he is simultaneously kind and powerful, capital-H “Holy” and long suffering.
One of my favorite books I read during my sabbatical was titled Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach. He has a beautiful description of our Christian life and living between GRACE and TRUTH. He calls that middle area “tension.” He invites us to live in tension continually, not just on the issue of which he mainly writes: homosexuality.
But we humans like teams. Most of us try to camp on one side or the other of every issue.
Maybe this is because we cannot simultaneously inhabit both sides of something like God. He can completely love and righteously judge at the same time. We generally have to chose one or the other. But maybe in our attempt to become more Christ-like, we can inhabit the middle. That part filled with tension.
Questions for you: What other ways do you see God simultaneously demonstrating two (seemingly) opposite characteristics. What area would living in “tension” change your life? Do you start to freak out a little when you think of moving to the middle instead of taking sides?
Here’s a video by Caleb Kaltenbach that helps explains his concept of living in the area filled with tension.
*If the title put a song in your head, you can listen to the whole thing by the Fugees here.