In the last post, “Zuzu’s Petals,” I used a familiar story to talk about how perspective is so important. When we see something or experience something we have an opinion, always. It is highly probable that what we think we know is only part of the story. Our minds will fill in the blanks based on our previous experiences. We use our empirical reasoning to derive “truths” and then apply them to the future. We like to find these repeatable and measurable formulas for how things work and what to expect. Of course some measure of all that scientific assessment approach is good. For the things of God, however it can lead us down the wrong path.
Our fallen nature insists on rules and lists, inputs and outputs, cause and effect, conditionals and logic. When we ate from the tree we ate a fruit but were consumed by its effect. We ran and hid from the very source of love and turned to condemnation and guilt as our guides. The Spirit of Cain rose up, fueled by religion and we found violence and murder as escapes from shame and rejection. This fallen nature of ours is so pervasive that it seeps into every crevice and crack of our divine potential and robs us of becoming love. That is why Jesus came. He came to free us from the fallen nature and restore us to His vessels of love.
Still like Zuzu we are presented with stories and encounters and histories that don’t align with the love that indwells our new creation. For me, God has filled me with an urgency to find the and reveal the truth about His nature. He is not angry at us. He is not mad at us. He is not offended by what we do. Nothing we come up with surprises Him. He is a lover not a lawyer. He is a judge that makes things right not sends people to prison. He is well aware of our fallen nature. He came to us in the garden when we were hiding and gave us clothes to cover our shame. He came to Earth as a man to reveal His intense love that saves us from all the offenses, hurts, broken hearts, sickness and so much more. He makes us new and comes to live in us. That should sound like good news and it is.
So I would like to show you an example of how the Zuzu Petals concept would work in scripture. You don’t have to believe me. I’m not trying to convince you. You have to ask God to reveal Himself to you, and He will! My argument will actually not work for someone trapped in the chains of religion and fear. But it isn’t a debate for me. It is an opportunity for you. Jesus would often say “you’ve heard it said” and then go on to show another perspective. I like to think that I am doing the same. I am opening a door. I am providing an escape route from fallen thinking. I am giving you permission to ask the hard questions and have Jesus give you the answers.
Maybe you remember the Abram and Sarai (before their name change to Abraham and Sarah) story about their pit stop in Egypt. The passage is pretty short so I’ll just let you read the background:
Gen 12:10-13 Then a famine came to the land. Abram went down to Egypt to live; it was a hard famine. As he drew near to Egypt, he said to his wife, Sarai, “Look. We both know that you’re a beautiful woman. When the Egyptians see you they’re going to say, ‘Aha! That’s his wife!’ and kill me. But they’ll let you live. Do me a favor: tell them you’re my sister. Because of you, they’ll welcome me and let me live.” (The Message)
This is right after God called Abram and made promises to bless him. I believe Abram’s decision to lie is evidence of his faith at the time. God had chosen Abram to build this relationship that would be foundational for all of mankind. This was the first time since the garden that God and man had such an intimate relationship. At this point in the story Abram is still not so sure about the relationship and takes matters into his own hands.
Gen 12:14-15 When Abram arrived in Egypt, the Egyptians took one look and saw that his wife was stunningly beautiful. Pharaoh’s princes raved over her to Pharaoh. She was taken to live with Pharaoh. (The Message)
Sure enough, just like Abram declared, Pharaoh wanted Sarai for his own. Makes you think about the power of our words. I wonder how it would have gone if Abram acted out of faith and not fear? This next verse is where all the fallen thinking and religious insistence on an angry God centers.
Gen 12:17 But the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. (ESV)
Gen 12:17 And Jehovah plagued Pharaoh and his house — great plagues — for the matter of Sarai, Abram’s wife. (YLT)
If you unpack the original language it could literally be translated as (Lance Literal Translation):
Gen 12:17 But the Lord touched Pharaoh and his house with a mark (infection, affliction) because of the words of Sarai, Abrams’ wife (LLT)
I don’t believe God gave them an incurable, deadly disease. I believe Jesus makes it clear that disease and sickness are of the devil. Jesus came to heal us of that stuff. A house divided won’t stand. Jesus healing something that He gave us is a house divided. So what really happened? I don’t know. Maybe Sarai cursed them with her words? Elijah called down fire from the spirit of satan (next post) and Moses likely cursed Korah (next post). Maybe they just got sick because Sarai was from another country and carried something in her body that made these Egyptian sick? Like Zuzu we see a flower with restored petals when it isn’t possible. Likewise, Moses (who records the story) and Abram (who passed on the story) believed that God did it. From their perspective that was a good thing, a normal thing for gods to do in their time. Still I don’t believe God did it but the story records it that way. The beauty and majesty and love of God is so profound, so unexplainable, so unbelievable, that He would let them blame Him for what happened. Just like Jesus who “became sin” was not a “sinner.” Jesus who died on a cross as a criminal was in no way a criminal. Are you beginning to see?
The best part of the story is the verse prior:
Gen 12:16-17 Because of her, Abram got along very well: he accumulated sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, men and women servants, and camels. (The Message)
And of course it goes well for Sarai too:
Gen 12:18-19 Pharaoh called for Abram, “What’s this that you’ve done to me? Why didn’t you tell me that she’s your wife? Why did you say, ‘She’s my sister’ so that I’d take her as my wife? Here’s your wife back—take her and get out!” (The Message)
And in the next chapter we see Abram in a new place and:
Gen 13:2 Now Abram was extremely rich in livestock and in silver and in gold. (AMP)
Here are the Abram and Sarai Petals of the story. Abram didn’t trust God. He lied. Still God delivered him. Sarai was a victim and a willing participant in the lie and she was delivered. Even when it looked like it was going to be really bad, God poured out Grace. Abram left with more than he arrived with. That is the goodness of God. From Abram’s perspective God “hurt” the Egyptians to make it possible. What if the missing Petals are God healed all of Pharaoh’s people? What if the Petals that fell off were the fact that Sarai cursed the people and God saved them? What if the devil, through Sarai, brought a new deadly disease to a new region and was planning on killing them all but the blessings of Abram saved them from disaster?
God is that good. He gives us opportunities for “Faith Tests” to agree with His goodness. I hope this kind of post gives you the freedom to ask the questions and find the answers. God is after a relationship. He isn’t found through religion or rules or empirical scientific dissections. He is living and desperate to encounter you. Sometimes we have to see that we are like Zuzu in the story. We can’t see the truth in the words on paper but come to know the truth in relationship with the living Word (Jesus).