July 4th, 2012 by Kristi Stephens
I’ve been reading through the Bible in 90 Days with some women from our church. I think I’m a little over a week behind, but I’m ok with that. :)
Those of you who are long time readers here know I have a particular affinity for the Old Testament. This time through the Bible I am reminded again of why that is.
I’ve heard many people say, in so many words, that they struggle to read the Old Testament because God seems much more frightening and unfamiliar than how we see Him in the New Testament. But actually, I feel the opposite way.
In the Old Testament, I see glimpses of God that help me make sense of the Jesus I see in the New. He is untamed. Unpredictable. He never responds in the way the Pharisees or even His own disciples expect Him to respond! I read the Gospels and I am left stunned by Jesus’ wild other-ness – and wondering how we got to the place where we have so reduced Him to a soft and gentle sentiment. The very fact that He often extends such stunning grace in the New Testament, His very coming with Calvary in mind, shouldn’t just leave us with warm-fuzzies – He is so shockingly… unlike us.
Even the disciples, who had already had many glimpses of who Jesus was, had to wrestle with the fact that they simply could not make Him common and predictable. “They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”” – (Mark 4:40-41, NIV)
So when I read through the Old Testament and see God’s glory revealed in unbelievable miracles, plagues, terrifying judgments, provision, miraculous intervention – I am not confused, I see Him. When the mountain trembles and is veiled in smoke – I am not confused, I see Him. When I read Revelation and wrestle with the horrific judgments to come- I am not confused, I see Him. He is the roaring Lion and also the Lamb who was slain.
I see my unpredictable and untameable but completely faithful and trustworthy Savior; I will never fully understand Him, but I can fully trust Him.
In fact, the longer I walk with Him the more I find this: sometimes it is the fact that I cannot fully understand Him, contain Him, tame Him that enables me to trust Him more. His ways are not my ways; I rest in that and I am glad.
And I also ponder… the longer I walk with Him, will my heart become less tamed, less placated by this world?
David, called the man after God’s own heart, has a similar wildness about him that echoes of Jesus. He frequently baffles those who follow him, acting in counter-intuitive ways unlike anyone they had ever seen. He submits himself wholly to the plans and purposes of God, refusing to raise a hand against Saul even when he was forced to run for his life. His men risk their lives to bring him water from behind enemy lines, but he pours it out onto the ground. Men attempt to raise their status in David’s eyes by boasting to have killed his “enemy” King Saul, and David has them executed for their betrayal of the Lord’s anointed.
He is unpredictable. Wild. Unlike those around him.
David is not alone. Moses, the prophets, the apostle Paul… they confused those who followed them as they grew to resemble their untamed God.
The more like Him we become, the less predictable we are to those around us. We baffle them. We do not fit into their small contained boxes they have built for us. We love justice but also mercy. We preach sin and God’s judgment and yet extend unmerited compassion and forgiveness. We value human life but learn to hold our own loosely.
Dear Father, Consuming Fire, Jealous God, Righteous Judge, Savior, Friend – consume my life. I do not fully understand you, but I trust you. Untame my heart.