Wednesday, May 29, 2024

God Shuffles Things

There's a certain order to the world; we see it all around us. And amongst ourselves, we have created an order, too. And we don't like it when that order is disrupted. 

For example, if you've been working at your job for 20 years and that next leadership position finally comes open, it only seems right that you should be the top candidate, over and above anyone who has been there less time than you. But then, they go an hire the guy who got there six months ago and is still full of naivete and bravado (he only looks like he knows what he's doing), and you can't believe it. That's not how the story is supposed to go. That's not how the system is supposed to work. 

Tough cookies. 

The thing is, I'm not sure where we got this idea that there is a certain order in the world that can't - or shouldn't - be disrupted. 

That's exactly the kind of thing our God is doing all the time. 

We could talk here, of course, about miracles - about times when God disrupted the natural order of things to do something supernatural. Famines. Manna from heaven. Quail in the wilderness. Water from a rock. Sight for the blind. Speech for the mute. Movement for the lame. 

But these things don't tend to bother us as much as when the social order is bucked.

But God is doing that, too. 

If you read through the Old Testament, you see many a time when the older son is passed over for a younger one. God seems to be doing that all the time. Isaac over Ishmael (a little more complicated by the whole Hagar situation, but still). Jacob over Esau. Joseph over his eleven brothers. Ephraim over Manasseh. Judah over Reuben, when it comes to leading the people of Israel as the kingship is established. 

Many of those times, the older has in some way sacrificed or soiled his birthright - Reuben's sin, Esau's hunger. Sometimes, it's simple favoritism - Joseph being the firstborn of the more-loved wife, Isaac being born of the marriage union and not the slave girl. 

Still, over and over again, God chooses the younger over the older, and every time, the people are like, "no, no, this is not the way." But God says, it is the way. It is the way because this is the way that God is working His good into the world. 

It's a reminder to us that God really isn't looking at things the way that we look at things, that God is looking at something else. He's looking at what is truly good and what is the best way to get us from here to there. 

And if that means upsetting the so-called "natural order" of things, then so be it. After all, upsetting the natural order is how we get something so incredible as the empty tomb. 

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