Tuesday, December 26, 2006

God is good

Garrison Keillor does some terrific monologues, which he starts off with “It’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon, my hometown.” A flood of applause always follows, because the audience knows what's coming.

A few years ago, he described an accidental adventure that John Soderberg (iirc) met while walking along the ice, thinking about life and not paying quite enough attention to his footsteps. He was wondering about his place in the cosmos and recalling an incident from childhood. Thinking about that incident, he had just concluded that “God is good,” when he stepped into someone else's ice-fishing hole and broke his leg. So there he was, alone on the ice. He dragged his ruined leg over to his own ice-fishing house and realized that he had no matches with which to light the stove. Through a series of events too long to recount here, his wife drove their car out to that ice-fishing house right then. She was very unhappy with something he'd left undone, and confronted him. He says, “God is good. God is good.” His life was saved.

Today's reading from the Psalms talks about God's goodness:

The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. -- Psalm 145.9

What do we have to do, who do we have to be, if we want God to be good to us? That verse says we don't have to do anything; we don't have to be anyone. He is good to all and has compassion on all he has made. What a deal! Here are a few more details:

The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. -- Psalm 145.14

The Lord is near to all who call on him.... -- Psalm 145.18

If we fall, he will uphold us; if we are bowed down, he will lift us; if we call, he will be near. The last point I wanted to mention is something I've mentioned to my children at times. The Pharisees and priests who arranged for Jesus's death -- did they wake up one morning and say, "Today, I'm going off the rails. This is the day that I'm going to conspire to destroy the author of life"? Of course not! They went off a little at a time. They headed in the wrong direction, and quelled their doubts (the ones that should have corrected them). At the end, these men were wicked. How can we avoid their fate? This verse gives one clue:

The Lord watches over all who love him, but the wicked he will destroy. -- Psalm 145.20

Note the contrast between all who love him on the one hand, and the wicked on the other. If I love the Lord, if I welcome his oversight of my life, then he will help me not to become the wicked and be destroyed.

How cool is that? We don't have to perfect some sort of skill, accomplish some heroic act, in order to get this sort of help. We don't have to "clean up our act" or gain some esoteric knowledge or anything like that. What we have to do is love him, call to him, reach out to him.

He'll do the rest.

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