The Worship Quote of the Week for (03/25/2008):

The Inescapable God
Today’s WORSHIP QUOTE OF THE WEEK is another from THE HIDDEN FACE OF GOD, the most recent book by singer-songwriter and author Michael Card. These are thoughts that should make us cringe at any "gospel-light" approach to life, any presentation of biblical truth that is merely "happy-clappy" without a profound sense of the sacrifice of God. Read on.

David, in Psalm 139, celebrates God's inescapability. There is no place we can hide from God, sings the psalmist. He is before and behind, up in heaven and down in the depths, on the far side of the sea. If we are swallowed up in darkness, behold, sings David, He is there. His reality is inescapable.

Suffering and God. Superficially, they seem mutually exclusive, like darkness and light, matter and antimatter. What does one have to do with the other? How and at what point could they possibly meet? What would be the result if they did?

The place where these two inescapable realities meet is in lament. Here, the suffering of man for God embraces the suffering of God for man. Here we surrender our running from the inescapability of suffering and raise the white flag to the ever-present One whom David celebrated. Job, overwhelmed by the ordeal, cried out, "I recant and relent; being but dust and ashes" (Job 42:6). The stumbling, exhausted, world-weary place where suffering and God meet is lament.

What takes place in that meeting is as miraculous as it is unexpected. The two do not simply destroy one another, as matter and antimatter would. Nor does one simply overcome the other and win the battle. No, the One who is Light and Life enters into the suffering and confusion of the other, into his or her darkness and death. God defeats suffering by surrendering Himself to it. He triumphs through exhausting Himself against it, by drinking the cup dry. The miracle that takes place is salvation! The God from whom we cannot escape uses inescapable suffering to save the world that has been in headlong flight from Him ever since the Fall.

The miracle has taken place, once and for all, on a cosmic level at the Cross of Jesus. And yet, the miracle occurs again and again at the level of each individual soul whenever we lament and make a place for our unbearable suffering to come together with the inescapable God.

--Michael Card, from THE HIDDEN FACE OF GOD: FINDING THE MISSING DOOR TO THE FATHER THROUGH LAMENT, Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2007, p. 26. ISBN-13: 978-1-57683-669-9. Highly recommended.

Chip Stam
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky

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