This week has felt more like a month. It may have something to do with the four (yes I said 4) alligator swamps (metaphorical swamps) that I have been dabbling in. It may have something to do with the overwhelming and pressing need for pastoral care that has arisen among those whom I know and minister with and to.
These situations make being close to God more crucial than ever. Every evening I read scripture and marvel anew at the vastness and greatness of God. The other night I was reading about the destruction of Babylon and that God, even as he was destroying the beas,t invited everyone who had been lured into her nest to come to him. I have always known that God’s grace was immense, but in the middle of destroying the earth and all the evil thereon, he stops and offers salvation to all those who have turned their backs on God and served another. Grace and mercy, world without end.
And of course I can see that this grace and mercy, world without end, is extended to the alligators in all those swamps that seem to have filled up my life. These are just people and congregations who are attempting to keep a tight control on their own lives and who have stopped (or never known how to) listening for God to speak and direct them.
I know what that is like. For me it happens most often when things in my life begin to slip out of control, and then instead of trusting God, I wrestle the control out of his hands and attempt to prove that I can do a better job than he can. And the result…. things get worse, I start snapping at the very people that try to help, I stir up the mud in the swamp so that none of us can clearly see the issues we need to deal with anymore.
For that reason, the prayers on my heart this week have been that I would remember my own sinfulness, and rely on the greatness of God’s mercy and grace as I go deeper into the swamps. The people who inhabit them need mercy and grace. It may be uncomfortable to help them, and they may well lash out at me and others, but after all there is nothing there that can injure me, as long as I keep my eyes on the one who clears the way.
And I pray that I don’t turn on God and ask him who in all creation thought I’d be equipped to be an alligator wrestler…. because if it is true that I need to be the agent of wisdom and mercy in these situations I can not afford to push God away, I really really need him very very much.