Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In the Shelter of the Vine, Day 2

(Day 1)

Inside the bend of a river, there lies a city. Outside the city, on a ridge just across the river, sits a man. From where the man sits, it is hard to make out the city through the heat waves. It is turning out to be a scorcher. The wind has shifted around to the East, straight out of the desert. The sun is beating down hotter than usual, and to top things off the vine is all but dead. Upon investigating he sees that it has been consumed by some sort of worm right where the stalk comes out of the ground. Irreparable damage.

He spends the morning watching the city and thinking. It shows signs of life. The people are starting to go about their business again. It won’t be long before they forget this whole episode. The problem with threats that are not carried out is that people soon tell themselves they never were threats; that it was all the ravings of some mad man combined with some mass hysteria. These sinners would go about their lives as before! Their sin would continue! It was just a matter of time! Why had God wasted his time?

By noon, he is feeling the effects of the sun, and it is only going to get worse. He curses the grub that ate the plant, and curses the plant that has died. He curses his own life wasted saving sinners who deserve death. He curses his life and wishes for death.

Where does this story end? That is a hard question to answer, because it is an open ended story. We decide what the man will do. Will he curse the people he hates until the heat kills him, or embrace the grace that he has seen? What will you do? What task have you been given? Are you running from your fears and hatred, or sitting comfortably in a shelter that you fool yourself into thinking you built?

Sometimes we take a lot of pride in what we think we have done. We look at our stuff and pat ourselves on the back and say, "what a nice life." Then so often we look out on the sinners in the world from our sheltered perch and sit in judgment. That is easy to do with all the messed up stuff going on in the world today, but we must never let the wrong of the world cloud our vision. The world may deserve judgment, but so do we. We need to remember that before God decides to remind us.

In the last scene of this story, God approaches the prophet. When God asks him if he has a right to be mad over a shelter he did not build, He shows him that, as God, He has a much greater right to love a city full of people He has created. God loves this world very much, and He wants to see all men come to know Him.

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