Tuesday, August 16, 2016


If the givens are that God is our God and we are His people, then what we're left with from Jeremiah 21 is "maybe He will do miracles." Maybe is not a conditional statement; it does not logically follow from an if or a since. You cannot logically conclude a maybe. Maybe...is propositional.

We're not really fond of propositional things. They require of us two things, perhaps three, which we are not particularly gifted at as a people, at least not in today's present age: they require that we ask.

And wait.

And maybe even trust.

Any of those strike you as tops on your list? Any of those you recognize as things you just love to do? Of course not. We live in a world that says, demand, take, seize, and conquer. Go out and get what you want. Now. By the strength of your own hand. You want something? Go get it. 

We leave no room for "maybe." 

We leave no room for asking because we don't know who to ask. We ask God, sure, but we really ask our image of God, which is more of a wisp or a spirit or a wind than a real person, a presence in the room. We don't know how to ask. Do we pray? How do we know that we're praying? Does God hear us? Should we write a note and tie it to a balloon? Should we bow our heads and close our eyes and not open them again until we've been answered? Who do we ask? How do we ask? Asking...is not our strong suit.

But ask we must because maybe is not a given. We don't know. We can't know. Maybe it will be but maybe it won't be; it depends on a lot of things that we either can't predict or just don't know. We must ask because maybe is not conditional. We can't simply bring about whatever it is that we want. We can't make God do miracles. We must ask because maybe is propositional; it depends, among other things, on our asking.

And if we ask, we must wait. Waiting is something else we're not good at. Right now, I can get almost anything I want through a simple search engine or Amazon. I can find the answer to any question, the best price on any product, and free two-day shipping all at the tips of my fingers. What is this "waiting" thing? 

But wait we must because a proposition makes no demands. Wait we must because asking is not telling, requesting is not requiring. We cannot make God do miracles. We cannot order them with a click of the mouse. We cannot expect two-day shipping on answered prayer. We ask, and then we must relinquish our asking and simply wait. It will happen or it won't; it will come in good time or come not at all. All of a sudden, we're back where we began: with "maybe." 

Maybe requires at least these two things: asking and waiting. And then, perhaps, we add an element of trust. Or hope. Two more things we are no longer skilled at.

Maybe doesn't require that we trust. It couldn't care more or less either way; it's not dependent upon trust. Maybe will answer whether we trust or not. But the givens that we have, the things we know for sure before we even get to our maybe, are a different story altogether. They require some measure of faith, either trust or hope. (And trust and hope are fundamentally different.) 

They require that we recognize that it's out of our hands, that there's nothing we can do about it. We cannot do the miracles we seek, nor can we make God do them. No one ever made Jesus perform a single miracle. They asked sometimes, but they could not force Him to do anything. Therefore, we have to either trust that God is who He says He is and that we are who He says we are, based on our intimate knowledge of His heart and ours, or we have to hope that God is who He says He is and that we are who He says we are out of a heart that holds honest questions. That's all we can do. 

That's tough for a people who keep being told they can do anything they want to do. 

Especially because most of us discover, particularly in faith, that this is not quite true. We may want to trust, but we do not know how. We may want to hope, but what is hope? We realize in our very wanting to do something that we cannot, in fact, do anything that we want to do, for we continue to fail again and again at doing faith. We continue to fail at the propositional. Not because we can't do it. No, we were made to do it, but because we can't figure out how to do it. We can't will ourselves to do it. It doesn't work like that. Faith, hope...they don't work like the rest of the world works, we don't do them like we do anything else. It takes something special.

And maybe that's why we don't like maybe. It's not so easy to do. It requires something of us that we're not used to giving. It demands things we just aren't so good at any more. It's not a given. It's not conditional. It's propositional, which means we have to invest ourselves in maybe without knowing whether that maybe will ever be a yes or a no. 

We have to ask. We have to wait. And for people of faith, we have to either trust or hope. 

And then maybe....

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