Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Vintage Craig Barnes. Many thanks to Walt for pointing me toward's National Presby's archive of old Craig Barnes sermons, available in real audio and in text. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the start of his available sermons.

Meanwhile, here's some of Craig's good theology:
In the words of the old Pietists, prayer is a means of taking shelter under the broad folds of a sacred mantle that covers all who bow their heads before God. Surrounded by this loving mantle, you are left with "a peace that passeth understanding." My grandfather used to speak frequently about the peace that passeth understanding. But we don't hear that phrase so much anymore. And that's a shame, because it is exactly what we search for when life is confusing. What we need is a peace that goes beyond understanding since understanding is exactly what we do not have and may not get for a long time. We can live with that confusion, but only if our souls stop churning.

How do we find this cherished peace that passeth understanding? The same way David did. By allowing the Holy Spirit to move our prayers beyond our desires to encounter the desire of God, which is that we remember his steadfast love. Psalm 25 begins with a request for direction, but moves quickly to a soulful renewal under the mantle of God¹s love. Similarly, we may begin our prayers asking, "What about my job?" or "Where is this relationship going," but if we are listening in prayer, we'll hear the still small voice of the Spirit telling us, "I love you."

If you know that, if you are again convinced that you are loved and forgiven by God, you know that you¹ll be okay no matter what happens. That is because you understand that your life will end up in the right place not because of your good choices, but because of the choice God made to love you. And this love is waiting for you at either fork in the road.

Having been renewed through prayer, in the merciful love of God, David then says, All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness. There is so much freedom in this! God owns all the roads. Option A and option B both belong to God. So you cannot choose your way outside of the love of God.

The choice that God is concerned about most is not about your job options, but about your true calling to look for the grace of God on every road of life. If God wants you to be a butcher, baker, candlestick maker, you're not going to be able to miss it. In the words of C.S. Lewis, God uses all the wrong roads to get us to the right places. If you believe that God owns all the forking roads, and that if out of his gracious love, God has already chosen to lead you to a future filled with hope, then you are free to make the best choices you can without anxiety that your life is on the line every time you choose.

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