Thursday, August 19, 2010

Imagine That

One of just a few books I would recommend to anyone, anytime is "Lost in the Middle" by Paul Tripp. He apparently intended to write a book about middle age, but actually wrote a penetrating analysis of life's disappointments and biblical hope, and one which deserves to be read and re-read by everyone over the age of, say, 25.

In a chapter entitled "Towers to the Sky," Tripp discusses the death of our dreams. And along the way, he discusses the fact that our imaginations are fallen. Yes, it turns out that Genesis 3 affected even our imaginations. We do not dream the way we should, hope the way we should, or respond to life's changes as we should. There is too much of ourselves in our plans, aspirations, and expectations - and far too little of God.

I was looking at Isaiah 40 with this in mind, since this majestic passage of Scripture closes with these hopeful words:

Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:30-31

This passage seemed to relate because it involves dealing with adversity - approaching the future with hope in God. Yet what struck me in Isaiah 40 was not these famous verses at the end. Instead, I was struck (in fact, struck down) by all the verses leading up to these...verses 1-29. This chapter proclaims God's eternal nature in contrast with man's; God's greatness in contrast to the microscopic significance of entire nations; and the weighty, holy reality of God in contrast to the emptiness and vanity of anything else we call "great." "The nations are a drop in the bucket... The nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted as less than nothing and emptiness. To whom then will you liken God, or with what likeness will you liken him?" (vv.15-18)

An outline of Isaiah 40 might look something like this:
I. It's about God
A. It's all about God
B. It's all about God
II. It's about God
A. It's really all about God
B. It's really all about God
III. It's about God
A. It's all about God
B. It's all about God
a. Rely on Him and you'll be fine

Back to the imagination thing. One point Paul Tripp made in that chapter is that we should dream big dreams about God, and about our walk with God. We should not imagine the future with ourselves in the center, but with God in the center. So many of our personal hopes and aspirations need to be held to loosely. Over the history of the world billions of hopes and dreams have come crashing down... but God is still there.

The way we imagine our own futures will shift and change, sometimes causing a good deal of pain. But God will still be there. It's really all about Him.

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