endings are for gratitude, beginnings are for faith

this is a short essay by john piper from his book "life as a vapor." i have been reading it everyday as a devotional and i have to tell you it has really challenged my life. i have read this little book before, but this time i am learning so much about myself and who God is and who i am in God. i was challenged greatly by today's reading and i want to share it with you - at least parts of it.

"the embrace may be only with the heart, or it may be with the arms, depending on proximity and the degree of the emotion. but in either case gratitude embraces a person with glad affections for past goodwill aimed at helping us; and faith embraces a person with glad affections for future promises aimed at helping us.
since every moment is the beginning of the rest of your life, and every moment is the end of the past, every moment should be governed by the glad affections of both gratitude and faith.
of course this is only possibly if you see the world a certain way. if you see it the way biologist richard dawkins claims to see it, you will not experience your moments this way. dawkins sees the world as a naturalist, that is, without God: (insert quote by dawkins that is rather long about our existence being merely to selfishly survive. from "the selfish gene")
if you see the world that way, there are no persons to embrace, but only biological machines; no personal affections to feel, but only genetic programming; no goodwill in the past and no promises for the future, but only ruthless, blind, genetic 'selfishness,' that is, mindless survival of superior might.
but if you see the world in the way gustav oehler (german lutheran professor of old testament at tubingen, 1812-1872) sees it, you will experience your moments differently. (insert quote by oehler basically stating that all through the Bible, it teaches that God is sovereign over everything. from "theology of the old testament")
in this view of things, looking back is looking on the past providence of God: 'as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good' (genesis 50:20). and looking forward is looking on the future providence of God: 'the heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps' (proverbs 16:9). 'are not two sparrows sold for a penny? and not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father' (matthew 10:29). 'surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life' (psalm 23:6).
if you see the world in this biblical way --- and if you stand inside that biblical world as your humbly-accepted world --- then every moment will be a point of gratitude toward the past and faith toward the future. the practical implications of this are great. for example, gratitude is one of the humblest affections; and faith is one of the boldest. just think what kind of people we would be in the next year for the cause of Christ if we were continually humbled by our backward look of gratitude and continually emboldened by our forward look of faith! no, don't just think about it. pursue it --- with all your mind and all your heart."

the prayer that follows the essay: "gracious Father, grant me a lowly spirit of gratitude. make me feel the preciousness of past grace. give me an honest memory of mercy. forgive me for the pride of unremembered gifts and callous thanklessness. waken faith in my wavering soul and give me strong confidence in your solid promises. where past and future meet make me humble and bold. in Jesus' name and for His sake, amen." - life is a vapor, p 48-51

1 comment:

jen said...

Ooh, good stuff...making every moment a point of gratitude toward the past and faith toward the future. I like the prayer too.