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Friday, August 12, 2016

Everybody Hurts Sometimes

Somehow, I didn't expect to find inspiration from R.E.M. while reading Scripture, this morning.  Music is funny like that.  Out of the blue, a 24 year old song that you haven't heard in decades can become the most prominent thought in your mind.  I'm not sure if there's a lesson in that or not.  If there is, it might be, "Be careful what you listen to."  Oh.  That could go a lot of ways...

Psalm 107:2a, "Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—" (NIV).

We all have stories.  Most of us don't tell them, and I think that's at least part of what has brought us to this place where we misunderstand one another.  Psalm 107 is pretty great, because it highlights several overarching life themes.  I was particularly struck by the passage below, but in each short narrative, whether the afflicted is lonely or broken or rebellious; whether the afflicted is at fault or a victim; whether the suffering is superficial or wrenching; the resolution is the same.  Tell your story.  Give thanks.  God loves.

Psalm 107:4-9, "Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle.  They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away.  Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.  He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle.  Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things" (NIV).

This idea of settling is an interesting one.  I often speak about the problem we have, in the English language, with a lack of words.  How can it be that to settle can mean to find stability, to become peaceful, to reconcile; to fall to the bottom, to pay, to resolve to take (or be) what you don't really want?  It's as if settle is an antonym for settle.  Friends, you do see how challenging this is, right?

We desperately want to settle, and we desperately do not want to settle...

I ran across a quote the other day.  I'm not sure who said it first, and it wasn't cited, so I have no way to give proper credit, but I would be glad to amend that if anyone can point me to the source.  Here it is:

"If you want to follow your dreams, you have to say no to all the alternatives."

I do not love this quote.  I love choices.  I love being able to do everything I want... whatever I want. 

But I think Catherine Keller's cloud of missed possibilities is coming back to haunt me again, because the same stinkin' concept keeps landing right in front of my face.  Ironic how we love having choices but we hate having to make one.


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