Tag Archives: fractals

Isaiah 64

Scripture: verse 1

Oh that You would rend the heavens and come down,
    that the mountains might quake at Your presence

Observation: Seth Godin recently blogged about the difference between confidence and certainty.  He concludes that insisting on certainty – in yourself or in others – is a mistake.  It tends to be a way of drowning out fear by ignoring possible negative outcomes.  He’s primarily talking about business situations, but at the moment it rings true for faith as well.

I’d like to be certain.  I’d like to know exactly what God is going to do next.  I’d like Him to rend the heavens and come down so that I don’t have to think anymore.

God doesn’t seem to work like that, though.  He wants us to be confident in Him, but He rarely gives us certainty.  He might promise to work all things for our good (Romans 8:28) but He doesn’t say how long that will take or how He will do it.  He promised to be with Jeremiah and rescue him (Jeremiah 1), but that doesn’t mean nothing bad happened.  At one point Jeremiah got thrown into a cistern to die (starvation, dehydration, blood poisoning from standing in muck – take your pick) and God sent a sponsor to plead with the king and get Jeremiah out.  There was rescue, but not certainty.

God says that He will be found by those who seek Him (Jer 29:13).  But I’m not at all sure that we ever stop seeking.  There is always more of God to find.

Application: Act on confidence.  Don’t be discouraged when things are not certain.

Prayer: Lord, I praise you because you are God.  I praise you because you are the only certainty.  Thank you for blessing me.  Help me to be confident in the future you have planned for me.  Amen.

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Ephesians 5:31-33

Scripture: from verse 31

…and the two will become one flesh.

Observation:  Paul is quoting Genesis 2 here, speaking of a husband and wife coming together.  He goes on to say that this is true on two levels: it’s true of individual couples, and it also described a “profound mystery” concerning Messiah and the believers.  (There’s one of those places that God’s word is fractal: the little pictures look just like the big pictures.)

But I was thinking about one flesh.  Flesh isn’t an amorphous material.  It isn’t like clay or bread dough that can be split up and recombined without anyone noticing.  Flesh means blood vessels, and muscles and tendons and bones, and nerves and lymph nodes and glands.

So two becoming one isn’t just about emotions or sex or other easy ways of joining.  It means joining structures, so that each supports and extends the movements of the other.  It means joining circulatory systems, so that oxygen and energy and sickness and healing flow back and forth.  Even your proprioceptive sense (the sense that tells you where your body is, allowing you to do things like clap your hands with your eyes closed) and your limbic system (the part of your brain that runs emotions and memory and things) can apply to two people instead of just one.

And that’s what God wants to have with us.  Messiah’s lifeblood, flowing through our bodies.  Messiah’s power supporting our steps.  His desires becoming ours, and ours becoming His.

Yeshua wants to give us the desires of our hearts.  He wants to be one flesh with us.

Application: Become one flesh with Yeshua.  I’m not really sure how that works with Yeshua, but I know some of how it works in marriage: your spend time together and learn each other and respect and love each other.  So spend time with Yeshua and learn about Him – and be open and honest so He can learn you.

Prayer:  Yeshua, thank you for offering to be one flesh with us.  You could have offered to be our master, or our father, or our owner, and been entirely within your rights – you owe us nothing.  But you offered to be one flesh.  You offered unity.  Help me believe that.  Amen.

Ephesians 4:6-10

Scripture: verse 6

[There is] one God, the Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is in all.

Observation:  I’ve been talking with my mom lately about a word she got some years ago: that God works recursively, like sourdough starter.  Sourdough is traditionally made with wild yeasts, encouraged to grow in the dough over time, so every time you make sourdough you’re supposed to keep a lump of the dough in the fridge, to be “fed” and used to leaven the next loaf.  (I’ve never actually done this, to be honest, but I’d like to someday.)

Some people adapt this process to make “Friendship Bread.”  The starter is built up over the course of a few weeks, and then it is split – some goes back in the fridge, some is used to make bread, and some is packed up (with instructions and hopefully a loaf of freshly-baked bread) and given to a friend.  If people keep giving it to others, the number of people who have the starter grows exponentially and soon everyone is making bread.

And so we have this picture of God.  He is ruling everything, Master of Creation, counting hairs and watching sparrows and determining the fall of the dice.  He is also in me, using me and growing me and generally investing tons of time and energy into me.  He is also, at the very same time, in my husband and my daughter and every other believer on the planet.  And the amazing thing is, He is wholly Himself in each of us.  He isn’t split up or distracted or even juggling a million tasks at once.  He is, Himself, wholly present and focused on me.  And you.  And creation.

God is the same yesterday, today and forever.  Like the starter, He is Himself in every single one of us.  And like the starter, He is changing each of us to be more like Himself.

Application: Trust Him and let Him do His work 🙂

Prayer:  Father, thank you for being in me.  Thank you for devoting all of your attention to me.  I praise you that you are the same and your love never changes, regardless of scale or situation or circumstances.  I love you.  Amen.

Ephesians 1:20-23

Scripture: from verses 22 and 23:

The Messianic Community…is His body, the full expression of Him who fills all creation.

Observation:  I’m fairly certain the Greek here is quite complicated, but I don’t feel like poking around in it (especially since the meaning relies on specific prepositions, which I’m not able to follow) so I’ll take it as written.

Believers are His body (which I knew).  As His body, we are a portrayal of Him.  According to this verse, we are the full expression – such an accurate portrayal that He doesn’t need another.  Obviously this is one of those facts vs truth things – we are still sinful, but God has declared us sinless, so in Him we are sinless.  (He has made perfect forever we who are still being made holy, according to Hebrews.)

Which is kind of insane, even aside from the sin issue, because God is huge.  Fills all creation, like it says.  Something as small as a human cannot be the full expression of God. But it says we are.

The universe is a fractal: it looks the same at every level.  The same themes and changes and principles that operate over the entire universe also operate in my life, and operate again at a cellular level.  At the same time, God made us special – we have free will and creativity and intelligence that no other being (as far as we know) has.  The Screwtape Letters describes us as amphibians – half animal and half spirit – and this, I think, is part of what he meant.  We reflect not just the universe, but the God who fills the universe.

God can be bounded in a nutshell and count Himself a king of infinite space – and the evil of this world is no more than a bad dream.  He can make us like Himself and use us to dance the dance of the universe.

Application: This is about perspective to me.  There’s nothing new under the sun, nothing He hasn’t accounted for, nothing that catches Him off-guard.  Which means that He knows me.  He knew me before the creation of the world.  I can’t screw things up for Him, and neither can anyone else.  Which means it’s going to be okay.

Prayer:  Yeshua, thank you for making it okay.  Thank you for having a plan, for knowing the resolution of the dance and the end of the story.  Thank you for holding me close and carrying me through it.  Amen.