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Who I’d Like to Meet in Heaven, Part 2 February 21, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Random Musings.
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Joe,

Thanks for your reflections on some of the people you are eager to talk to in heaven, and the questions you’d like to ask them. Your words toward the end about using our imagination as we read the stories of the Bible were especially meaningful to me because I have just been thinking about that in relation to the story of Abraham.

I had actually intended to write about how I would like to meet Joseph in heaven and talk to him about his extraordinary faith and confidence in a sovereign God despite the hatred and injustice he experienced at the hands of his brothers. I believe it was thirteen years that went by from the time he was sold into slavery to the time that he was made ‘vice president’ to Pharaoh and put in charge of the distribution of crops, the position that would eventually enable him to preserve his kinsmen. Thirteen years! I can’t imagine the feeling of abandonment — from his family and from his God — in those thirteen years.

But to go through all that and then say to the brothers who sold you into slavery with the utmost confidence, “God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. 8So it was not you who sent me here, but God.” (Genesis 45:7-8). What remarkable faith and trust in God’s good and merciful designs in the pain that other people inflict upon us. I’d just love to sit down with him and talk about those thirteen years, and how he fought for faith in an omnipotent God, despite circumstances that seemed to be screaming otherwise.

Actually this post was supposed to be about Abraham! He has been on my mind lately because I am reading through Genesis and his story is just amazing. Your last couple of posts have prompted me to think more about how little we use our minds to think about the details that are often left out of the biblical records. We need to be careful to not let our imagination dictate the meaning of texts and not allow speculations to become facts in our minds, but I think that using the mind as you have been talking about is very helpful in reminding us that these were real people in real circumstances that we’re reading about.

I tend to read a verse like, “When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood,” (Genesis 22:9), and if I am not thinking, I just pass right over it! My lack of thought detaches me from the fact that this was a real father getting ready to slaughter his precious son in the service of God! Don’t you just want to know some more of the details?!

In fact, I find myself almost getting frustrated at times as I move through Genesis. I can’t imagine Isaac just laid there thinking, ‘Hm, this is a little odd; it appears that dad is offering me as a sacrifice.’ Was there a struggle between them? What else was said? What about when Abraham told Sarah to pretend she was his sister, so he wouldn’t be killed? Was she just cool with that? And how in the world, after doing that once, could he do the same thing a second time? But then I am reminded of how often I, having seen the folly of my own ways, continue to walk in pride and selfishness so often.

All that to say two things. First, I heartily agree with you that a healthy use of the imagination can enliven our reading of Scripture. Second, I can’t wait to sit down with these great men like Abraham and Joseph and asked them how they did what they did. But if we do not think deeply about their stories, it is unlikely that we will be stirred with much passion about the accomplishments of people like them or of the great God whom they (and we!) served.

Seeking Him with you,

Larry

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