Archive for July, 2007

I’m reading Free of Charge, Volf’s new book. A quote from page 28:

God generously gives, so God is not a negotiator of absolute dimensions. God demands, so God is not an infinite Santa Claus. So what is the relation between God’s giving and God’s demanding? In other words, what is the difference between a Santa Claus God and a gift-giving God? The bare bones answer is this: a Santa Claus God gives simply so we can have and enjoy things; the true God gives so we can become joyful givers and not just self-absorbed receivers. God the giver has made us to be givers and obliges us therefore to give.

How easy is it to oscillate between these two distortions of God!? In the first, it is Salieri before the crucifix promising chastity and purity if God will make him an immortal composer. As if God needed his vows? The second, is the God who gives endlessly and blissfully without any demands. It’s the drunk guy at the bar buying the next round for the whole house. Suddenly a room full of strangers become his friends. Yet God does make demands – be holy as I am holy (1 Peter 1:16).

We should function in faith not expecting a return but because of our love for Him. We cannot give God anything that obliges him to give us something in return. We cannot reciprocate because we cannot give God something that he has not already given us. All that we have originates with him.

The point is that we receive from God to give. We are conduits of God’s graciousness to the world. God gives to us freely. We should receive gratefully with an eye that the gifts are not for ourselves alone.

To live in sync with who we really are means to recognize that we are dependent on God for our very breath and graced with many good things; it means to be grateful to the giver and attentive to the purpose for which the gifts are given.


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Death of a Child

What chance is there that you can say something to bring comfort to a mother who is burying her child? Little to none. What pain she must be experiencing right now – it’s a shattering of so many important things. Dreams. Expectations. Hopes. Grandchildren.

What kind of sad case am I to think I could help. All I have is hope in the mystery of Christ in his death and resurrection.  Nothing more and certainly nothing less. Certainly that’s enough. I only know it’s enough because I’ve been shattered and cracked too.

“When the worst finally happens or almost happens a kind of peace comes. I had passed beyond grief: beyond terror, all but beyond hope, and it was there, in that wilderness, that for the first time in my life, I caught a glimpse of something of what it must be like to love God truly: It was only a glimpse, but it was something so huge and extraordinary that my memory had been unable to contain it. Though God was nowhere to be clearly seen, nowhere to be clearly heard, I had to be near him. I loved him because there was nothing else left. I loved him because he seemed to have made himself as helpless in his might as I was in my helplessness. I loved him not so much in spite of there being nothing in it for me but almost because there was nothing in it for me. For the first time in my life, there in that wilderness, I caught what it must be like to love God truly, for his own sake, to love him no matter what. If I loved him with less than all my heart, soul, might, I loved him with at least as much of them as I had left for loving anything.”

F Buechner, A Room Called Remember

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