But me, I'm not giving up. I'm sticking around to see what God will do.
I'm waiting for God to make things right. I'm counting on God to listen to me. Micah 7:7 (MSG)
I read Micah's opening line: "I'm overwhelmed with sorrow! sunk in a swamp of despair!" and I totally get it. A couple of months ago I entered a stretch of the journey in which my faith was worn incredibly thin. Stretched to the point of breaking, I felt like a marathon runner who "hits the wall" in the middle of the course. When you experience those moments you feel like pulling off the road and calling it quits. The idea of continuing seems ludicrous and pointless. Doubt pushes faith away. Disappointment negates what little drive you have left. Pain overshadows purpose to the point that it disappears from view.
But, I also get Micah's determination. Clinging to the tattered shreds of trust, you press on to find that faith untested is of little consequence. Depth of faith is proportionate to the endurance required to push through the trial set before you. Maturity emerges out of perseverance.
No matter how much you get, it will never be enough— hollow stomachs, empty hearts.No matter how hard you work, you'll have nothing to show for it— bankrupt lives, wasted souls. Micah 6:14 (MSG)
Materialism is a jealous lover. She commands every thought. She demands incessant desire. Pursue her; seek after the latest, the newest, the shiny thing that everyone must have. Reach, stretch, claw to get that one thing. To touch it, to possess it will feel so good, she says. Then, I will have arrived. Then, I will be satisfied. Materialism. She rewards with a fleeting orgasm of satisfaction. It feels so good for a moment. Then it quickly fades. Emptiness and hollowness creep back into the vacuum of a vacant soul. The cycle starts over. My lover, she points to the new conquest. My eyes gaze upon the next object of desire to be pursued in the cycle of never enough.
God, teach me to be content.
Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and myklroventine
But you, Bethlehem, David's country, the runt of the litter—From you will come the leader who will shepherd-rule Israel. Micah 5:2 (MSG)
Being an Iowan requires a certain amount of humility. Go to either coast and tell someone you're from Iowa and you'll see their eyes glaze over as they struggle to remember their 5th grade geography. They have no idea where Iowa is, or what it's like.
There are no great landmarks in Iowa to attract people. There are no professional sports teams. We have no national parks. The only President from Iowa was Herbert Hoover (the Great Depression hit on his watch – so we generally choose not to get to puffed up about that). The most noteworthy things about Iowa are fodder for obscure trivia questions on Jeopardy.
Nevertheless, I love being an Iowan. And, I like that God tends to make great things out of humble beginnings. He likes to transform the youngest, smallest, and least significant into His chosen instruments. Bethlehem, the "Iowa" of Israel, becomes a birthplace of special distinction. God sends His Son to save the world, and has him born in a little nowhere town like Bethlehem.
Feeling small? Struggling to feel significant in a large world? No worries. God has a special place in His heart for the youngest, smallest, weakest, and least significant.
Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and obo bobolina
"On that great day," God says, "I will round up all the hurt and homeless, everyone I have bruised or banished. I will transform the battered into a company of the elite." Micah 4:6 (MSG)
Change is constant along the journey. Change is a substitution, an outside-in exchange of conditions. Change is swapping out one circumstance for another. There is a change in scenery. There is a change in location. There is a change in terrain.
Transformation is something much more intimate. Transformation is metamorphosis. It is a substantial re-forming from the inside out. Transformation is the transfiguration of the very structure and substance of being.
You can have change without transformation, but there is no transformation without change. God tells us quite plainly that He in the transformation business. He makes old things new. He makes broken things whole. He makes dirty things clean. He makes dead people live.
I don't want mere change. I want transformation. That's what this journey is about.