Friday, June 15, 2018

God Regrets

Then Samuel left for Ramah, but Saul went up to his home in Gibeah of Saul. Until the day Samuel died, he did not go to see Saul again, though Samuel mourned for him. And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel. (1 Samuel 15:35 NIV)

What does it mean to regret?

From a human perspective, this means to think back on an action or decision and judge it as poor, wrong, unwise, wrongly judged. Wishing the decision had been otherwise. Wishing the words had been otherwise. Wishing the action had been otherwise.

Regret implies there are limitations to our knowledge or understanding at a given point in time, or that there are forces at play that are outside our control.
Yet God is sovereign and in control of every situation.

I work as a country doctor, which means I carry a good weight of responsibility.
Not only do I treat many in our community, but I also train younger doctors.

In teaching doctors, I am given the task of helping to mould their abilities and judgements in the hope of benefitting the wider community which they will serve in the future. This is both a privilege, and a serious responsibility.

Teaching doctors invariably involves patients, my patients. I am, of course, responsible to provide good care to my patients, and allowing a younger doctor, or student, to be part of a consultation or procedure involves trust and consent.

At some point, the young doctor must be allowed to perform a procedure themselves, under supervision, in order to truly gain the skills necessary to work unsupervised in the future.

If, as a student, all you ever do is watch, then training is deficient. “Hands on” is a vital step in training.

Personally, my best learning experiences as a student (and scariest) have come from being allowed to take control.

As a supervisor, allowing a student to take control is risky, but necessary.
It means that I deliberately choose to step back and allow actions to play out.

At what point do I as a supervisor, intervene? What if a procedure is going horribly wrong? What of my responsibility to my patient?

The bottom line is, if something does go horribly wrong, the loss or damage comes back onto me.

Yes, I have regretted allowing trainees to perform procedures that they failed at. I hope those events have been big learning experiences for them, they certainly have for me.

At some point, I may have to make a judgement that a particular trainee is really not suitable for a particular type of doctoring, or maybe should not be a doctor at all. Thankfully this is rare.

When God chose Saul, he took a risk. He later regretted this choice. It feels awkward to talk about God in this way. Does God make mistakes? I believe not.
Yet it seems that he is prepared to take a risk on Saul, then stand back, so to speak, and allow things to play out.

Sadly, Saul never seems to learn from his mistakes, and the final outcome is that God chooses a new King. David.

There are two points I wish to make.

Firstly, when things go horribly wrong, they are, ultimately, the teacher’s responsibility. In Sauls case it was Samuel's, but beyond this, it was God’s. And he does take responsibility, sending his very own Son, to bear the sin of the world.

Secondly, God’s risk in choosing Saul, is no different to his risk in choosing Samuel, Eli, and even David, who, in spite of his being full of the Holy Spirit, failed miserably with Uriah the Hittite and his wife. In fact, it is no different in his risk in choosing people like you and I. Love takes risks.

 1 Corinthians 13:7 Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Psalm 7:17

I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High. (Psalm 7:17 NIV)

What is it that the author of Psalm 7 is celebrating in verse 17?

Not God’s mercy, not his grace, not his love or faithfulness, but his righteousness.

What is righteousness?

Surely it includes moral impeccability, being utterly sinless, having unquestionable motives, as well as upholding perfect justice and truth.

Why would anyone thank God for this. Isn’t this exactly what every man is not? And even more, isn’t this what rightfully condemns us as unworthy in God’s sight?

Surely holiness and righteousness are closely linked in the vision of Isaiah, when he cries out; “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

But, amazingly, we are a redeemed people, saved by grace and not only saved but sanctified and justified. In other words, made to be what we could never be, and this includes being made righteous.

But this righteousness is fully a gift, which could only be given by a saviour. A saviour who came from heaven and became one of us, but resisted all temptation, and maintained true and robust righteousness in its fullest sense. This genuine and hard kept righteousness enabled the saviour to rescue us by the offering of his unblemished personhood as a perfect sacrifice and propitiation for sinful humanity. Without righteousness, this was impossible. And this godly righteousness, both motivated, sustained and achieved a righteousness for all who believe.
God’s righteousness is not an icy cold, insurmountable (higher than the himalayas) wall that separates and judges us. It is loving, gracious righteousness that propitiates in order to maintain it’s glorious majesty, yet rescues the unreachable.
It is right to give thanks to God because of his righteousness. It is our righteous God who sent His righteous Son to make righteous those who could never be.
Thanks be to God.