Friday, September 24, 2010


"He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and comes not again." Psalm 78

I found these words smack dab in the middle of a chapter that records Israel's exodus and wilderness experience. God "remembered that they were but flesh," and he "being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them."

The reason I find these words worth writing about is that if I'm really honest with myself, I realize have a hard time remembering that I am "but flesh." Not that I think that I'm not sinful or fallible (although there's no way I can recognise the bottom line on these realities), but I simply don't think of myself in such seemingless simple terms - simply recognizing my state as a human being, made of dust.

A clear examples of this is that I don't think of myself as fragile and made of stuff - mere matter. I don't realize that apart from God and his sustaining power, I've got nothing. I think I have a fair amount to offer. I guess I sort of think I'm a demi-god (Ok, I think I'm a god!), in charge of my little spheres of influence. Little do I realize my own fragility and the emptiness of my kingdoms. For my kingdoms are all in my head, and I'm often deluded enough to believe that I'm a fairly good king or emporer (which depends on the level of my day-to-day delusion).

I was also reading John 17 today, in which Jesus simply pleads for his children, that they would know God's love, that they be protected from the evil one, and that they might be one even as he and the father are one. This chapter is jam-packed full of good stuff. Too much for me to unpack here. But the gist that I saw today is that Jesus is really concerned about us. He knows that we are but flesh, and his compassion flows through the entire passage.

This is the God we have. A God who recognizes our needs, and then rescues, protects, sustains, enables and preserves us as his beloved kids. He has no illusions about our state. He even attones for our silly self-dillusions of grandeur.

For as I write, I realize that I think I really have something to say. The truth is I don't. I need God to somehow enable me communicate, just as much as I need him for the next breath, which is impossible for me to recognize for what it is. It's no coincidence that God breathed life into Adam, he breathes life into me every second and for this I was going to say "I'm grateful." But I can't be grateful enough. My gratefulness is nothing when compared to his compassion and steadfast love.

So how am I supposed to respond to all this crazy stuff about God that blows my puny brain? The more I think about it the more I realize that God's not expecting any sort of spectacular response, for he knows we are but flesh. More than anything, my guess which is backed by the biblical story, is that he wants us to simply relish the sweetness of life. The sweetness of life in him.

Are we supposed to go forth and live for him? No. I believe we're supposed to simply live with him. The rest will take care of itself, if we're seeking the intimacy he offers. For being a passing wind, God doesn't expect much from me, he simply wants to me to enjoy him.

This is no self-indulgent therapeutic spirituality I'm promoting. It's simply the stuff of reality. If we are frail, made of dust, merely flesh, and a wind that passes, we've got nothing but God and are nothing without him. Enjoying him is our chief end and as we do he can begin to use us.

Unfortunately, I almost always get the cart before the horse, and claw through life trying to produce results for God, and am frustrated by my laziness and inability to please God, when what I'm finding (as I actually read my bible) is simply a waste of time. God will always want us more than we want him. And his desire is for us to simply live in his love.

I'm thankful that he invades my kingdoms, my delusions of grandeur, with his steadfast love that brings with it both humility and life.

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