Saturday, June 21, 2008

Genesis 14 - The Keyser Soze of the Bible

A few years ago, when I got out of the pigpen and came back home, I used to struggle with a certain phrase. It was not some deep statement or complicated prayer. It was not even something even particularly holy. Here is what I said for a few frustrated months:

"I just wish I could figure God out."

I was angry because so much of who He is and what He does, did not make sense to me. I mean even the good stuff, that He loved me despite the things I had done, baffled my tiny head. And so I would sit and think and struggle and grumble to figure God out.

He wouldn't let me though. I think He knew is that what I wanted wasn't a relationship, it was a formula. I wanted to master God like a math problem and then I would be done. He knew that the minute I had "figured Him out," I would be done. I would be gone. I would be lost all over again.

That's part of the reason I like Genesis 14. In addition to Abram's lesson about taking money or gifts from people we shouldn't, Melchizedek makes a cameo. Have you heard of this guy?Scholars debate about who he is. Abram tithes to him and he is called a "priest of the God Most High." Some believe he was the "appearance on earth of the pre-incarnate Christ in a temporary bodily form." He's like the character Keyser Soze in the movie "Usual Suspects."

Regardless of who he is, to me he represents mystery. To me, in the middle of a very logical chapter about a battle and a rescue and the inner workings of kings, God drops an incredibly mysterious figure into the story. I think He loves doing that. I think He loves reminding us that His truth is deeper and older and more mysterious than we can understand.

It's easy to breeze on by Melchizedek. His cameo is so short in the grand scheme of things that it's not difficult to miss it. And the mysteries you'll see today are the very same. After reading one time about Moses and the burning bush I remember praying "God, I wish there was something mysterious in my life that you called me to understand like the burning bush." I felt like in a matter of seconds He answered by saying, "Your wife is a mystery. I want you to understand her."

He was right. She is a mystery. The way my kids process new things is a mystery. How or why people are reading this site is a mystery. And when I get comfortable with the idea that I can't figure God out, I get to enjoy the beauty of being surrounded by mystery. We miss the domestic mysteries in our own lives every day. I hope you won't this morning.


christine said...

When I was younger I often wished God would just give me a glimpse into the future thinking that taking away some of the mystery would somehow make life, decisions, circumstances easier. In reality I have learned today has enough trouble, I don't want to borrow from tomorrow. Now I am thankful to learn to be content with the mysteries He allows. I realize He gave me 'the mind of Christ' to glorify Him and not try to figure Him out. Thanks for your insights.

jamie in rose cottage said...

Great post. I have many times tried to figure out that God math formula, too. I think as humans we don't want to have anything truly beyond the grasp of understanding. But if we could totally understand God, he wouldn't be God.

Christianne said...

I LOVE THIS! wow. i love these reflections on embracing mystery. me and mystery 5-10 years ago? not friends so much. but lately, i'm learning this, too: mystery is so much God, i am not God, so i just get to enjoy the mystery and let someone much bigger than me keep tabs on everything and keep it all humming, working it all together how he wills. it's a total mindbender . . . but then, i guess that is the point.

someone said on a previous post that they are finding themselves liking this site even better than SCL. whoa! that's saying something. i just have to say that i am growing increasingly intrigued by the chatper-by-chapter reflections you're giving here, the thoughtful angles you find into sharing them, and how well thought out they are. i think you are finding your stride on this site, too. it's so great to be watching that happen.

oh, and one more thing. it's so cool to learn that other people are taking the chapter challenge with you and reading one chapter a day before reading your reflections. that is such a cool community-like thing to see happening. it hadn't even occurred to me to do the same . . . i just show up here every day and read what you have to say about what the Bible is saying. novel idea . . . :)

Stacy from Louisville said...

I really struggle with wanting God to live up to my formula. I want Him to be neat and concise...and to stay on His side of the playground. I have control issues that God doesn't seem to acknowledge. So we clash. A lot. The mystery...I keep it at a distance sometimes, for various reasons. Other than being a dork, that it. So, I haven't arrived. Yet. I'm more like Moses right after the burning bush. The dude tells God 5 times that he can't do what God's calling him to...the last excuse being, "God can't you find someone else?" But God is so gracious, and takes him as he is, and makes him something great...something mysterious...

Candace Jean July 16 said...

Wow, I love this! Mystery! We know the ending, but the journey, ah yes, a blessed mystery indeed! Thanks for the post!

Flesheater said...

1. Great movie reference and a great analogy to Melchizedek.

2. I've never thought of it like that. I'm one pf those who, when studying the bible tried to figure out and at the very least guess at who Melchizedek was and why he was there.

Great lesson to be learned here.
thanks for sharing.