The Divine Design
“Vanity, vanity, all is vanity.” ~ Ecclesiastes
“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.” ~ W. B. Yeats
“Trust and Obey.” ~ hymn, John H. Sammis in 1887
Sometimes life feels like one continuous wheel of futility. What we might want in such times is that word of hope…no matter how fleeting it may seem…that helps us find a sense of purpose in the midst of the world’s vanity…the world’s lack of diplomacy. For me, I want the story of scripture to invade my life and offer me a glimmer of what God is up to. “Tell those wonderful words of life, whisper them over again to me.” Tell me that, though the moral arc of the universe is long, it bends toward justice, toward the light, toward the good, toward reconciliation, faith, hope, and love. Tell me that, though I feel the deprivation of light in this world, there is a flame that shines in the darkness still. Declare that the Divine Diplomacy includes a grand design, and “that this Plan is wrapped in the folds of my Being, even as the oak is wrapped in the acorn and the rose is wrapped in the bud…that this Plan is permanent, indestructible and perfect” [The Divine Plan, Glenn Clark]. Hold my hand through that long, dark night, and sing me to heaven, that I may grasp onto something, even if that something is but the crumbs that fall from the Master’s table. I want to grasp onto something. . . tangible.
The Divine Design rarely looks neat and orderly from our perspective, for “now we see through a glass darkly.“ [1 Cor 13] The world saw Jesus’ crucifixion as a failure of God’s diplomatic mission to reconcile all humanity, and yet those three interminable dark days of the tomb have become for us a living metaphor of existing between the times, awaiting resurrection, awaiting reconciliation, awaiting restoration, awaiting redemption. And along the way, we do experience moments of the in-breaking and overarching web of God’s design; we catch glimpses, not of a hidden god, of a mechanistic charlatan behind a curtain, manipulating circumstances in haphazard ways. Rather, like Jesus who saw the heaven’s ripped open, the Spirit descending like a dove, we see the Divine at work in countless acts of mercy and grace and power. The Divine Design unfolds with a neatness and orderliness that can only be understood, only grasped, by the power and grace of God’s Spirit.
Sometimes we wait for seasons and seasons to see the unfolding moral arc. Sometimes we wait generations and centuries. Sometimes the Divine Diplomacy simply says, “No. Not now. Not ever.” Sometimes we must bide God’s “no” and have to trust that the web is bigger than we can understand. Sometimes, we live long enough and faithfully enough to be able to see the world of God’s design intersect with our world, rearrange the chaotic birth-pangs of the kingdom, and we proclaim, “God’s plan, God’s Spirit, God’s reconciling, righteous reign has gone before us. Trust and obey. Have faith. Whisper words of hope in the darkness, and cling to the hands of the family members who walk this weary road with you. Look for the ways that God’s Way goes forth in directions you never imagined. Do what you can to provide safe harbor for other wayfarers. And keep the home fires burning. For God’s plan is wrapped in the folds of your being as the oak is within the acorn. And you are wrapped up in the fabric of God’s design…a coat of many colors, a shroud of consolation, and a cape of reconciliation. Come to the welcome table and let God put on you his finest robe. You are clothed in Christ, the host at this great feast.” So that, season after season, we can proclaim along with the psalmist, “I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”