One More Time--Frederick Buechner


One More Time--Frederick Buechner

Okay, I know you may be tired of hearing about it, but there are tremendous riches in this book, and so I continue.

from Soul Survivor--Frederick Buechner Philip Yancey

There are two ways to picture how God interacts with history. The traditional model show a God up in heaven who periodically dispatches a lightning bolt of intervention: the calling of Moses from a burning bush, the Ten Plagues, the prophets, the birth of Jesus. The bible indeed portrays such divine interventions, although they usually follow years of waiting and doubt. Another model shows God beneath history, continuously sustaining it and occasionally breaking the surface with a visible act that emerges into plain sight, like the tip of an iceberg. Anyone can notice the dramatic upthrusts--Egypt's Pharaoh certainly had no trouble noticing the Ten Plagues--but the life of faith involves a search below the surface as well, an ear fine-tuned to rumors of transcendence.

Buechner has spoken of his quest for that subterranean presence of grace in the world. He writes of an anxious moment in an airport (he battles a fear of flying) when suddenly he notices on the counter a tiepin engraved, against all odds, with his own initials, "C. F. B."; and of a good friend who dies in his sleep and then visits Buechner in a dram, leaving behind a strand of blue wool from his jersey, which Buechner finds on the carpet the next morning; and of sitting parked by the side of the road in a moment of personal crisis when a car barrels down the road with a license plate bearing the simple message "T-R-U-S-T."

. . . Buechner, however, prefers to see in such occurrences hits--upthrusts-of an underlying Providence. For example, when the car drown by, "Of all the entries in the entire lexicon it was the word trust that I needed most to hear. It was a chance thing, but also a moment of epiphany--revelation--telling me, "trust your children, trust yourself, trust God, trust life; just trust.'"

There is so much here to reflect upon, but chief among those things is a primary disagreement I have with Yancey about how to view God's action in the world. He states that there are two ways. I think there may be as many ways as there are people to reflect upon the situation. I don't see God's intervention in either of these two ways. I concur, there are obvious "highs" that may stand out to all people. But if one looks closely enough God's intervention in history is NOT subterranean. It is overt and constant, a smooth running stream that always fills its banks and occasionally overflows. God is present in every moment of every day in every event in history. What He allows to happen, what He causes to happen, what He guides to its final conclusion, these things make up the rhythm of the stream.

In His great mercy God intervenes at every moment. It is up to us to recognize it. God is an ardent lover, not one who passes by momentarily, waves at us and hurries on to other business. He is constantly attentive. He is Freddy in My Fair Lady who stands outside our window and sings, "The Street Where You Live." When He is ignored, still he is attentive. And when he is assaulted (as eventually Freddy is when Eliza sings,Ē Donít talk of stars burning at night. . . if you're in love show me), still He loves and responds lovingly.

This is the truth of our personal lives, and I believe that it is the truth of history. Despite all of the great evil that has occurred through history, much of what has happened is the sign of God's hand, his continuous outpouring of love and grace that has brought us to this moment, this day. God is not indifferent.

And if this is true, then so too is the conclusion reached by Buechner. Trust--the hardest thing in the world. Fall back and know that He will catch you. Life is not a lame psychological experiment--how many partners did not catch the person falling back. Is that really trust or simply reliance on peer pressure. But God's eye is on the sparrow. He numbers the hairs of our heads and knows each one. With that kind of personal attention, trust is the only reasonable alternative. Trust God who has supported all of history up until know, whose thoughts and minds keep the universe in existence, whose love has given us all of history up until know, and whose deep caring and concern was given ultimate expression in His Son who loved us unto eternity. Nothing less than God is sufficient, but God alone suffices.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on August 19, 2003 8:16 AM.

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