In the days of Noah, the man had just finished the wedding feast, and now he was carrying his bride to the tent. The rain had not dampened the festivities in the least. In fact, dancing in the mud seemed to heighten the excitement of the evening. But, the time for dancing was done, at least for the groom. As the party guests continued their celebrating, he grabbed his new wife, raised her up into the air, and strode off into the night.
Little did he know that within moments, he would be carrying her in order to keep her above the continually deepening flood waters.
Little did he know that the marriage would end in just a few moments as the current swept her from his arms as he stumbled to keep upright in the flow of the water and rubbish.
Little did he know that his wedding night would also be the night of his funeral.
Little did he know.
Life is uncertain and unpredictable.
Today is no different than the days of Noah in that respect. Two of you can be working on a project together, and one of you will get cancer. Within months one of you will be swept away in gut-wrenching treatments, and then death. Life is uncertain and unpredictable.
Two of you can be out hunting together, and one of you loses your footing and gets swept down the side of the mountain; the fatal blow occurring when the rock meets the head. Life is uncertain and unpredictable.
Two of you might have had weddings in the same summer, and one of you watches helplessly as the other couple gets swept away in petty fights and an eventual divorce. Life is uncertain and unpredictable.
Two of you enter the class on the same day, but one of you gets swept away in a sea of bullying while the other does not, and passes the class without any issues. Life is uncertain and unpredictable.
We like to think that we are in control of our lives. We like to think that we shape our own destinies. And, this may be true to some degree.
The one who boldly chooses to go through the eight to ten grueling years of schooling to become a lawyer will have a better income than the one who chooses to stay at home after graduation and farm. That is, assuming a car accident does not sweep away the good life of the lawyer shortly after she establishes her career.
We do not have as much control over our lives as we would like to think. Life is uncertain and unpredictable.
The people of Matthew’s time were coming to grips with this reality as they waited longer and longer for Jesus’ return. Jesus was supposed to come back and save them all from the horrors of government oppression and death to the mouths of lions. Jesus was supposed to come back and make the world right again, with justice and peace prevailing. Jesus was supposed to come back, and he did not.
It is said that the only things that are certain in life are death and taxes. It seems to be proving true.
OK, that is a little bit of an exaggeration; there are other things that are true in life. I am learning that poop jokes will always be funny to two year olds. That is a certainty.
There are other certainties: the earth goes around the sun; the sun will blind you at the very moment you need to see the road clearly; the roads will get potholes the size of Texas and do damage to your tires; and everything in Texas will always be bigger…including their fish stories (as we learned from Vicar from Texas last year). There are some things in life that are certain. But, the movements of God are not one of them.
There is a reason that C.S. Lewis chose to represent God as a lion in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Lions are powerful, but they can also be tender and caring, licking the dirt off of their young. The same is true for God. But, above all, lions are wild and unpredictable. Just as it is impossible to control a wild lion without some sort of gun and drugs, it too is impossible to control God. You cannot fit God into a box. You cannot predict what God is going to do or what God is going to decide. We cannot control God. We are not in control.
And, there it is, the truth of the day: we are not in control.
We do not control God.
Heck, we even have trouble even controlling ourselves.
We certainly do not know what the future holds. We do not know when Jesus will come again (not even Jesus knows that…only God the Father). And, we do not know when the waters will come and sweep us away. We are not in control.
But, I do have one thing to say about that. The fact that we are not in control changes nothing.
You can still love when you are dying of cancer. Unpredictability changes nothing.
You can still love others even when your job is taken out from under you. Uncertainty changes nothing.
You can still forgive as soldiers nail you to the cross. Unpredictability changes nothing.
Even death could not keep love buried under the ground.
You do not need to be certain of anything to have a life full of the gifts of love and forgiveness given to you by your Lord and savior Jesus the Christ.
You can let that forgiveness spill all over as they drag you to the lions, or even to the ambulance. You do not need to live a life in which you are asleep to those around you, allowing the thief of apathy and hatred to break into your house. You do not need to go through life asleep.
You can stay awake when it has to do with love. Love is poured on you constantly throughout your life by God, keeping you awake. Let that love spill everywhere. May it never stop, especially when life seems uncertain and unpredictable for your neighbor.