Monday, February 28, 2011

tIqDu' - Hearts.

ghaH 'Iv fashions Hoch vo' chaj tIQDu'; je ghaH considers Hoch vo' chaj vum.
He who fashions all of their hearts; And he considers all of their works. Psalms 33:15

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I build spaceships.  And rockets.  

No, really, it’s true.  That is - I really do build (and fly) rockets.  I’ve been doing it on and off since around 1969.  Model rockets, yes, but rockets all the same.  They’re the reason I first learned how to use a slide rule.  Some of the first computer programs I wrote in BASIC were programs to predict and assess the flight of my rockets.   And in building and flying these model rockets I have learned a lot about the big ones that go into orbit and beyond.

And my spaceships - well, they’re scale models of real spaceships - some of them even fly.  And again, in making them I’ve learned a lot about the real rockets.  I think my favorite is the Mercury Redstone rocket from Delta 7 - you can download that one for free yourself.

The reason these rockets and spaceships are of interest to me is because, in building these models I learn about what it takes to make the real thing, and I learn how they work and what they can do.

ghaH 'Iv fashions Hoch vo' chaj tIQDu'; je ghaH considers Hoch vo' chaj vum.
He who fashions all of their hearts; And he considers all of their works. Psalms 33:15

God made us - he knows what we can do.  He doesn’t need to examine a model, or imagine what might be IN us - he knows inside and out what makes us tick.

When I’ve built a scale model of a spacecraft - I don’t find out what is going to happen on a craft’s mission, on any particular flight.  Holding a model - even inspecting the real craft cannot tell me that.  But I do learn what it can do and how it can be guided on its way.   If you’ve seen the movie Apollo 13, you know that the people of NASA were able to help save the crew because they knew what the ship was made of, how it worked, and what it could do to preserve and protect the astronauts.  The astronauts could be confident in the NASA crew’s assistance, because they knew what their ship was made of.

And  God knows what we’re made of - that’s why I find a comfort in this verse.  I especially like the New Living Translation:

He made their hearts, so he understands everything they do.

God made our hearts - in Hebrew leb (a word that occurs almost 600 times in the Bible) it is used in Biblical (as well  contemporary) language to refer to the inmost self, the seat of emotions and thought.  Klingons likewise use the word tIQ, the literal heart, to refer to the seat of self.  Though never a really scientific term, it has a clear meaning, the “center, the essence” of one’s self.  AND GOD KNOWS IT - HE MADE IT.

What a gift it is to recognize that God knows us thoroughly, inside and out.  He knows what we’re made of.  He loves us, he understands us better than I can hope to understand a spaceship by building a model - even if I built the real thing, I’d not understand the ship better than God knows us.

He made their hearts, so he understands everything they do.

And, in the day of trouble, in the day of sorrow He is the one to whom we can open our tIQ, our heart!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Chosen - wIvpu'

ghurtaH ghaH the Hatlh 'Iv joH'a' ghaH joH'a', the ghotpu 'Iv ghaH ghajtaH wIvpu' vaD Daj ghaj inheritance.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, The people whom he has chosen for his own inheritance.    Psalm 33:12
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Do you remember playing a game - say baseball or soccer - and “choosing up sides?”  Waiting for the team leaders to pick the members of their team.  And do you remember what it’s like to be picked, chosen to be on the team you really, REALLY, wanted to be on?  Then you have a window to the impact of this verse from Psalm 33.

The people God chooses - the  “nation” …. “he has chosen for his own....” are HAPPY - ashri, the word usually translated as “blessed” - happy in the way you or I might remember  at being chosen for that team long ago.  Happy because we’ve been chosen to be part of a team, part of something greater than our self.   And this is the kind of happiness, of blessing God’s people know.

The word for chosen here is בָּחַר bachar and it occurs over 150 times in the Bible.  From a root meaning to try, by implication, to select, that is choose, it is translated with terms like: acceptable, appoint, choose (choice), excellent, join, be rather, require.  The word is used for God’s choices as well as human one (and not just good human choices).  

And the Word does present humans as having a choice.  From Moses’ command “choose life, that you may live,” or Joshua calls out “choose you this day whom you will serve,” to the Gospel declaration “But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become God's children, to those who believe in his name,” Scripture makes clear that our walk through life involves choice - decisions every day on which path we will follow.

How do we balance God’s choice and ours?  Do we need to focus on one and deny the other?

I think the Klingon answer (and my own) would be ghobe’ - no,.  This is the richness of Scripture - that a paradox (God chooses/ Humans choose) is needed to describe how we move in relation to God.  Some of the tension comes from our time-bound nature.  Far better is to start with the principle that God chooses to love, to open his Kingdom to all.

Certainly he acts - to choose - individuals and nations to carry out his will, but he chooses this to extend his love to ALL people.  

vaD joH'a' vaj loved the qo', vetlh ghaH nobta' Daj wa' je neH puqloD, vetlh 'Iv HartaH Daq ghaH should ghobe' chIlqu', 'ach ghaj eternal yIn.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.John 3:16

What a perfect way to balance God’s choice (He chose to love, he  chose to give his Son), and ours, (choosing to accept his love, his grace).  He chose to love - the whole cosmos - and we can be happy, happy to be blessed to be wIvpu’, chosen by him.