The culture in the West has messed with some beautiful words: extraordinary, spectacular, miracles, awesome. This list could go on. Some think we should stop using these words. Apparently they are so overused that they are no longer useful. For example, we shouldn’t use the word spectacular unless we can describe the elements that make it so. We shouldn’t say something is “awesome” and stop. We should go on and describe the actual qualities that makes it so awesome.
Part of me disagrees with this all this. It appears far too cynical for my “joyful bent.” And yet, I do love words. And words convey meaning. And if we throw words around, we can lose so much.
Faithful is another one of those words. “God is so faithful.” I hear this A LOT. Or anger about the lack thereof. “Where is God when you need him? I’m losing my home due to years of unemployment!”
Faithful, faithfully. These words are drowning in a puddle of overuse.
I think we need to take a harder look at this word. Thus, I’ve gained permission to publish an excerpt from Mark Buchanan’s book, The Holy Wild. But, before I do, let me share something about the work I do.
Every semester I help my seminary students write learning plans where they get to (yes, get to) identify a virtue God has been wanting to grow in them. This vision, this gift, is something the student wants to learn to embrace more fully. The student and I work to identify learning resources (cognitive, experiential and relational strategies), ones that help the student cooperate with God’s work upon their life.
The Holy Wild is a book I recommend most often to students. Why? Not because I make a profit. I do not. But because the book is THAT good.
Most of my struggle in life has been due to my struggle to trust God when I didn’t get what I hoped for. Instead, my loved one died, my child wasn’t protected, my family member lost sight of my love for her. Faithful God? My first reaction in each of these scenarios wasn’t to trust Him. Eventually I did, but I had to LEARN trust. (And news flash: I’m still learning trust.)
Mark Buchanan states that trust and rest are synonyms. We learn to trust where we learn to rest.
We learn to trust where we learn to rest.
Trust, or lack therof, is often a common denominator in our human dilemmas. So, I project on my students that they might be struggling with trust and I suggest the book The Holy Wild. I hope, maybe by reading it, they might see that God is indeed faithful (and then come and remind me because I OFTEN need reminding).
Buchanan’s book takes you chapter by chapter through a character quality of God and then he asks: Can you rest there?
It is hard for me to pick my favorite excerpt from this book. But I decided to pick this one because it speaks of faithfulness. I wrote to Random House and begged for permission to reprint it. As I waited for their permission, hoping beyond hope I could share this with my readers here, my husband and I journeyed to my favorite place on earth — The Betty Ford Gardens in Vail, Colorado. I said to Dale, “take pictures of leaves.” I had in mind this excerpt for you, this post I am now writing. So we prayed for you — you who might read this — and we took pictures (with our cell phones). We found ourselves dwelling upon endless miracles. You are one of those miracles.
God is faithful. In our culture, faithful is considered boring. Can we rest in God’s faithfulness?
Dwelling Upon Endless Miracles
— The Holy Wild, Mark Buchanan
A leaf. Behold a sing leaf. So fragile, it tears like paper, crushes in your hand to a moist stain, sharply fragrant. Dry. It burns swift and crackling as newsprint, pungent as gunpowder. Yet a leaf may withstand hurricanes, stubbornly clinging to its limb.
This single leaf, joined to the tree, drinks poison from the air, drinks it serenely as Socrates downing his cup of hemlock, and refuses to return in kind, instead spilling out life-giving oxygen. This leaf tilts to catch the sun, its warmth and radiance, to distill the heat and light down to the shadows, down to the roots, back up to limbs. To share the earth. To feed you and me.
A leaf. God makes these season after season, one after the other. Billions upon billions, from the Garden to the New Jerusalem. Most for no eye but His own. He does it faithfully, or else I would not live to tell about it, or you to hear.
Which is the problem with faithfulness: We hardly notice it. Faithfulness is, by definition, the predictable, the habitual, the sturdy, the routine. It is the evidence of things seen, but seen so often we’ve grown blind to them. It is the substance of things expected, expected so unthinkingly that we now take them for granted.
Faithfulness bores us.
Excerpt from THE HOLY WILD: TRUSTING IN THE CHARACTER OF GOD by Mark Buchanan, copyright 2003 M.A. Buchanan, Inc. Used by permission of Water Brook Multnomah, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved.