Reading for the day (Sunday, June 18, 2017):
Dear friends in Christ, grace to you and peace from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. Amen.
Many of you already know that I enjoy woodworking. Of course I haven’t been spending much time in the wood shop lately for obvious reasons. But now when I am working on something in the shop, I sometimes will build following a plan or blueprint. But most of the time I have an idea that I draw up either on paper or in my head and just get to work. The joy of doing it this way is that what I build then is certainly an original work, because I designed it. Doing it this way is also frustrating, especially when it isn’t working. I don’t give up very easily on things. So when a joint isn’t matching up, or it just doesn’t look right, I keep trying different ways to make it work. But sometimes you just have to start over.
I remember a time when I was younger and my mom asked me to make pudding for supper. So I grabbed a box of pudding out of the cupboard, opened the package and dumped the contents in a mixing bowl. Now what is the only other ingredient that you need to make pudding? Milk, of course. Well, I had made pudding before and I was pretty sure I knew what I was doing, so I just starting mixing it up. And come on, it’s pudding, one can’t screw it up that bad, can you? Well, Mom got home and I was still mixing this pudding and I told her there was a problem with the pudding, it wasn’t setting up; it was too runny. Thinking that I didn’t add enough milk, Mom adds more milk to try to thicken it up. But it turns out, if you try to make pudding with water it won’t set up, no matter how much milk you try to add to it.
At the beginning of Genesis, we hear how God created the world in six days. His creation was beautiful and properly ordered, functioning as it was designed. But it didn’t take very long for humanity to mess it all up – kind of like a young boy trying to make pudding with water. With the entrance of sin into the world, all of creation would be effected and changed forever. Generations later, God gets so fed up with what He had created and decides to start over and begin anew. So He flooded all of creation to start fresh.
Starting over or trying a different approach does not mean that you have failed. You are not perfect. And because of your sin, you can’t be perfect. This is why you don’t get everything right the first time. You do screw up. You do make mistakes. You do have to start over. But you will never start over and begin anew, unless you take a risk and go far enough to fail. If something isn’t working, you will never know to start over unless you go far enough to fail. You’ve heard the phrase, “Measure twice, cut once.” Well even if you measure four, five, or six times, but never cut, you’ll never know if that will be the right piece or not.
Are you measuring or cutting? Simply cutting without measuring is rather foolish, but if you measure and never cut; that too is foolish. Noah certainly had to measure in order to build the ark that God called him to build. The ark was to be 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high. Now a cubit is the length of your forearm – from your elbow to the tip of your finger. That distance is one cubit. Hopefully Noah was the only one measuring, but the 450 foot long ark would never had happened had Noah measured but never cut the wood. Are you measuring, calculating the risk of doing ministry? Are you ready to make that cut, taking a risk for the sake of the Gospel? Or are you worried that you might get something wrong and fail?
Let me ask this question in a different way. In your parenting and/or grandparenting (because I think that is a thing…grandparenting), do you allow your child or grandchild to try different things, taking risks even though they might fail at it? Or do you make sure that they are safely kept in a bubble and only do the things that you know they will succeed in? If trying and experimenting is good enough for children, then it is good enough for Christ’s church as well.
This is what God did with the flood. Sin entered His creation, messing the whole thing up. So He decides to start over, begin anew. Wipe the slate clean and start fresh. Now people throughout the world will question if the flood actually happened. And I say, if we get hung up on the details of the story and questioning if the flood could or could not of actually happened, then we have missed the point of the whole story. What really matters is learning what God has done and what He is doing for us. In the case of the flood, even though God chose to wipe the slate clean and start over, He promised that He would never flood the earth like that again. After the flood, God realizes that there had to be a better way of redeeming His project from its imperfections. After the flood, God makes many different attempts to save His creation, but to no avail. Finally, He sends Jesus to take all of the world’s sins unto Himself in order to once and for all redeem creation from sin that entered in with Adam and Eve.
You are nowhere near perfect. You will continue to fail and make mistakes. But don’t let the fear of failing or the fear of making mistakes prevent you from taking a chance and going out on a limb. Bishop Jon’s theme throughout his report at Synod Assembly was the last verse of Matthew’s Gospel, “I will be with you always.” The rainbow is not only a promise for us that when the rains come God will never again flood all of creation, but the rainbow is also a promise for us that no matter how many times we screw up, fall, or need to start over on something, He promises us to be with us always; until He comes again in glory on the Last Day. Are you measuring or cutting? Amen.
© 2017 Anthony Christoffels. All rights reserved.