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A Midweek Musing from my to-read list (8/2/23)

People often give me book suggestions. I have a pretty extensive list of books to get to. Often, folks just give me a title. Sometimes they remember both the title and author to give me. And sometimes, it is only a description of the picture on the book jacket with a summary of the plot – “you know it’s the one where good beats evil and star cross lovers are finally united.”

But every once in a while, I get someone who emails me the book title, author, a description of the book, and a link to Amazon or Barnes and Noble to purchase it,

Such was the case for a recent book that is now on my list.

The person who sent me the recommendation also sent me a couple of paragraphs to whet my appetite.

I am not sure if she wrote these words or copied them, but the question has made me really think. She shared the following in recommending this book.

One of our difficulties these days is that we do not take the essence and personality of God seriously. “God is dead for most of us,” wrote the author Walker Percy, “because we dread for him to be alive.”

Dr. Thomas More, Percy’s chief character in the book Love in the Ruins, is a man feeling great bitterness about modern life. At one point, he remembers why he did not take his daughter to a shrine known for healing, as she was dying of a terrible disease. “I was afraid she might be cured,” he confesses. “Suppose you ask God for a miracle, and God says yes, very well. How do you live the rest of your life?”

(Walker Percy, Love in the Ruins [New York: Picador, 1999], 374)

It is a profound question. We often like to think God is somewhere far off. Perhaps not dead but more a spectator or the boss of a mega company who rarely comes by to visit our location and certainly does not know us all that well.

We (and I include me in that) often speak good words with pious platitudes and claim that God is near, and we walk by faith but then go about our lives as if the very planet spinning on its axis depends on us.

Because the truth is if we lived our lives as fully trusted in God, then most of us would engage in our days quite differently.

Please know this is as much a self-reflection than a critique of anyone.

Because I know, I say we should walk by faith and not by sight but then do the opposite. We all pray for miracles and then ignore the miracle of sunsets and flowers and babies and waking up every day to life and all its possibilities.

We are far more comfortable in speaking faith than living it.

This is not a new phenomenon.

The Apostle Paul wrote about this referring to himself in the book of Romans when he said,

“I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact, it is no longer I who do it but sin that dwells within me. For I know that the good does not dwell within me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do the good lies close at hand, but not the ability. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it but sin that dwells within me.

Romans 7:15-20 New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

This honest reflection by Paul, who himself was a miracle, let alone witness to miracles, gives me comfort, for if even Paul fell short, well, then I know at least I am in good company.

However, what also gave me hope were the words that followed these. Words that said despite Paul’s shortcomings, he could keep on and keep on because of one thing and one thing only – Jesus Christ.

"So, I find it to be a law that, when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched person that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

Romans 7:21-25 New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

So may we all seek to live as if we believe God is alive and present and performs miracles daily. And when we fail to do so, and sin overtakes our thoughts and actions may we be grateful for the grace we have been given by the power of our Lord and Savior Jesus, who is the Christ.

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Alleluia Amen.


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