God in the Mess


hawaii-volcano-landscapeSome days I am simply amazed that God, the Creator of the Universe and all that is in it, wants to be in relationship with me, a finite, fallible human. Today is one of those days.


Before the Israelites entered the Promised Land, God foretold their future rebellion to Moses.


“Now therefore write this song, and teach it to the Israelites; put it in their mouths, in order that this song may be a witness for me against the Israelites. For when I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I promised on oath to their ancestors, and they have eaten their fill and grown fat, they will turn to other gods and serve them, despising me and breaking my covenant. And when many terrible troubles come upon them, this song will confront them as a witness, because it will not be lost from the mouths of their descendants. For I know what they are inclined to do even now, before I have brought them into the land that I promised them on oath.” Deuteronomy 31:19-21


God knew their inclination to turn from him before they ever set foot in the land. He knew they would adopt the beliefs and practices of the people of the land, forsaking him. The interesting thing to me is that he let them enter the land anyway. Wouldn’t it have been easier to just leave them to die in the wilderness and find some other way to reveal himself to humans? Yes. God could easily have revealed himself without using humans. But the point is he didn’t. God chose to use fallible, whiny, selfish humans to carry out his purposes on earth.


Even though God knew the Israelites would ultimately rebel, he still allowed them to be a part of his plan for the salvation of humanity. The same is true for us. We will most definitely screw up and say the wrong thing or make bad decisions, but God is there even in the messes we make. In fact, he is in the business of making beauty out of our messes. I have found this to be true in my life, and we see this time and again in Scripture. Just read the list of people in Jesus’ ancestral tree. It is definitely not a list of saints.


Today I am grateful that I get to be a part of God’s story in spite of my imperfections (as hard as it is for this perfectionist to admit!). And the next time I feel like I’ve made a mess of things, I will take comfort in the long line of imperfect-mess makers God has used to carry out his plan in the world.



Dependency. The word conjures up a range of thoughts and emotions. Dependency on God is always something I was taught to do by my parents and something I have strived for throughout my life. However, my understanding of dependency has taken on a new meaning over the last six or seven years.


Six and half years ago Aaron and I were living in Colorado Springs, Colorado preparing to enter camp ministry. We had gotten married a few months before moving there, and we were looking for a job in the Christian camping world. We were in the process of interviewing for a job at a camp in Durango, CO, when God did the unthinkable. He sent us back to Texas to start Camp Machaceh and work with underprivileged youth in our home state. This was a shock to our mountain loving selves, but we knew we had no choice. To stay in Colorado would be disobedient. Within a few months we found ourselves back in the metroplex figuring out what it meant to start a nonprofit organization. Through my experience with Camp, I am constantly challenged to be dependent on God whether for donations, volunteers, or even weather. We have seen God do amazing things through the ministry, a testament to His power and provision. Through each stage of this ministry, I learn something new about dependency. Thus, I cannot help but wonder what it must have been like for the Israelites during their desert years.


The Israelites were dependent on God for everything, much to their chagrin at times. They relied on God for food and water. They relied on God’s protection from their enemies, and they even relied on His guidance as to when to travel and where to camp. In Numbers 9, we learn that on the day the tabernacle was set up, the LORD descended on it in the form of a cloud. This cloud remained there, appearing as fire by night and cloud by day. However, when the cloud lifted from over the tabernacle, the Israelites knew it was time to move to a new location, and they would set out travelling until the cloud settled in a new location. Verse 23 of Numbers 9 particularly struck me:


 “At the command of the LORD they would camp, and at the command of the LORD they would set out. They kept the charge of the LORD, at the command of the LORD by Moses.”


The Israelites had nothing apart from the LORD. If God had not been with them, guiding them, providing for them, they would have been left with nothing and would have most likely perished. This made me rethink dependency a bit. While I still think I have been dependent on God for many things in my life and for most all things regarding Camp Machaceh, I wonder, can I truly understand dependency unless I have relied on God for everything down to food, water, shelter, and clothing? Or is simply realizing that without the generosity of others I would be in a much different place a recognition of dependency?

Two Hebrew Midwives: A Lesson in Faith

lotr-covers I love a well-crafted story. Some of my favorites include Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, and Jane Austen’s Persuasion to name a few. What makes these stories great? For me it’s the character and plot development. There are no unnecessary characters or events. All characters and events have a role to play in the grand narrative. This is something I love about the Bible as well.  

In the first chapter of Exodus, we learn of the Israelites’ enslavement in Egypt. But “the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread” (v. 12) making the Egyptians increasingly dread and hate the Israelites. This eventually led to Pharaoh mandating the midwives to kill all Hebrew boys at birth. It is at this point that we meet Shiphrah and Puah, the Hebrew midwives.


Our record of their story is short and without flourish; however, they play an important role in Exodus. We are told in 1:17 that the midwives feared God and ignored Pharaoh’s command allowing the Hebrew boys to live. They stood firm to Pharaoh’s face a few verses later, and as a result God protected them and blessed them with families. Their actions allowed the Israelites to continue to multiply and strengthen, setting the stage for Moses’ birth and the actions of his mother and sister in chapter two.


I am also struck and challenged by the faith of these two women. Shiphrah and Puah courageously ignored Pharaoh’s commands. They feared God more than humans. If faced with a similar dilemma, would my faith be unwavering? God rewarded them for their faith, but sometimes the outcome is much different. We follow God rather than humans, and we end up in suffering. This is part of the journey and part of life. But through suffering, we learn something about ourselves, our faith, and our God. All this to say, Shiphrah and Puah did not ignore Pharaoh because they hoped God would reward them. Rather, they chose to do the right thing without knowing what would happen to them. And that is what I would call faith that can move mountains.