This selection comes from Chapter One:
God hides in plain sight. In our world, on our streets, in the back alleys and warehouses and boardrooms that look nothing like God’s hangouts. He’s dressed up as the misfits who embarrass us and the tollbooth workers we pass by unnoticed. And he’s beneath our skin too. He has sunk himself into our unglamorous lives that there he might do what he does best: give, love, serve, help, and pray. The little things we do—like pouring cereal for our sleepy children before school, driving a delivery truck to keep businesses rolling, visiting a friend who’s laid up in the hospital—these seemingly little things are divine deeds over which angels rejoice. The evening news will never report on them. The church newsletter won’t mention them. No one will upload a YouTube video about them that goes viral. Yet that’s their hidden beauty: unnoticed by earth, applauded by heaven. To us they seem as natural and boring as watching the grass grow. But to God, they are his humble, holy niche in a world blinded by bigger, better, bolder.
The Lord’s incognito way of infiltrating the commonalities of life and infusing them with a divine purpose is not limited to our humanity. He’s active not only in lackluster people but also in lackluster things and places. Sometimes, in fact, these things and places are not only lacking in glory but are positively bizarre. They’re the last place one would suppose the Lord of heaven would be found on earth.
For instance, God hangs out in inhospitable spots. He chooses godforsaken places as the venues in which to teach his people that he won’t forsake them.
The Scriptures, especially the Old Testament, parade before us example after example of this. For instance, God hangs out in inhospitable spots. He chooses godforsaken places as the venues in which to teach his people that he won’t forsake them. For instance, in the desert wilderness of the Sinai peninsula, for four long decades, Yahweh taught his people how to live by faith in his Word of promise. The five foundational books of the Bible—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy—were all written by Moses here. The covenant of the law was enacted here. The priesthood, the tabernacle, and many promises of the Messiah all originated in this place where death was everywhere. Later, God would compel David, Elijah, and even Jesus into the wilderness in order that there they might live by faith in the Word of their Father. In the desert, not in a garden, God did his best work among his people. It is no different today. When it feels like we’re in a place forsaken by God, when it seems our lives are a barren wilderness full of nothing but disappointments, as we drag ourselves from one oasis to the next—precisely in that wilderness of suffering, when it feels like God is most absent, he is most present in our lives.
The Old Testament stories also focus on how the Lord chooses to heal us through remedies that are far from wonder drugs. Yahweh writes prescriptions that are unorthodox. When his people suffer snakebite, he doesn’t administer an antivenom. He bids his people stare at a bronze replica of a snake attached to a pole. Those suffering from leprosy are cleansed by blood and water applied to their skin. Even a dead man is raised to life when he’s dropped into a grave full of a prophet’s bones.
But above all else, God heals, cleanses, forgives, and makes alive through blood.
But above all else, God heals, cleanses, forgives, and makes alive through blood. No pharmaceutical company would ever market God’s remedies. They aren’t supposed to work. But they do. They work not because they are imbued with magical properties but because the restorative Word of the Lord is in them. The bronze snake, the water, the blood, the bones—all of this stuff, this earthly matter—are infused with grace and power by the same God who spoke creation into being from nothing.
This is an excerpt from Chad Bird’s book, Your God is Too Glorious, 2nd Edition, P. [6-7]. To read more and get your copy, visit 1517.org/shop.