The God We Can’t Predict

March 3, 2012

Discovering the unexpectedness of God seems to be a theme these days. We talked in class this morning about God’s “sealing of the covenant” with Abraham. Back in the day, there were little kings and big kings. The little kings would make pacts with the big kings to be loyal to them. To seal their agreement, the little king would split animals in half and line them up across from each other, and then proceed to walk through the middle of them. It was basically saying, “Let this [being cut in half] happen to me if I should break this promise.” Now for the best part: after making his covenant with Abraham, God puts Abraham in a vision where this ritual is repeated – but here’s the kicker. God is the one walking through the middle. He’s the one putting himself in the position of promise maker. He’s saying, “If I break this covenant with you, then I’m the one who’s going to pay for it.”

Seriously? God is saying that? But I thought that was the little guy’s job? My gosh. So you’re telling me that God is the one putting Himself in the little guy’s position? But God wouldn’t do that…or would He? Maybe that’s the awesome love of God being showcased to humans early in their history. Maybe that’s kind of what Jesus is all about. Maybe that’s what we’re supposed to be all about: turning the expectations of the world and its people on their heads and spinning them into something completely and utterly different. But the difference here isn’t the kind that terrifies you. It might scare you a bit, but only because it’s so unlike your expectations. It’s like a hand moving through the air that you expect to slap you, and instead you find it resting on your cheek in a gesture of love.

God does a bunch of crazy things all throughout the Old Testament. I suppose I have always naively assumed that the person of Jesus was the first time that God really “broke the mold” on Himself. But here He is, always breaking the mold, always breaking expectations. Jesus was simply the culmination of all that. He was the crowning jewel on the crown of peculiarity that God has been crafting since before human history began. The best part is, God continues to be unexpected. He’s always surprising us, if only we watch for it, if only we’re open to Him doing strange things in even stranger ways. Jesus – God – is Living Water. He moves and breathes and has a liquid presence. He still takes some of the convictions that we are convinced are a certain way and turns them into something completely different. But He’s not unstable. There’s a big difference between unpredictable and unstable.

So these are the things that I’m chewing on; these are the things I’m ruminating: God in his goodness, so huge and so unpredictable – it can be such a nuisance when we can’t map His next move, when we can’t see where He’s taking us. It can be something that produces genuine anger. But Aaron and I were talking tonight, and I said something that sort of clicked in me. I said, “I wouldn’t want a God I could predict. I wouldn’t want to know everything He was going to do. He wouldn’t be God if I could understand everything about Him.”

A prayer:

To you, oh Mysterious Creator God, I commit this day. Just when I think I have you and your world figured out, you turn around and surprise me. And in the midst of that surprise, I thank you for your stability. Amen.

– Bridgett Brunea


March 31, 2012

This past week has been full of experiences I did not necessarily think that much about at the time they were occurring. When reflecting though I came to the realization that I have learned so very much. I had already heard many really strong opinions about the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict from the Palestinian side. While here at the Kibbutz in the Galilee, ORANIM College and even in our contact with Jewish persons the week before at Ecce Homo lectures in Jerusalem I have seen a completely different side.  I now see that the Holocaust does have an effect on why things are how they are in Israel. It created a collective memory of the past, a fear of being in a position of inferiority again and a stubbornness that comes out in stating what they think no matter if it offends as well as their argumentative nature. The Israelis have fear of the rockets being launched into their land and being “pushed into the sea” just as the Palestinians often have fears of occupation, confiscation and border crossings. Both of their fears are legitimate and deserve respect. Each side has wonderful and normal people who are just trying to live their everyday lives.

This land is not filled with only the radical groups from both sides that I had previously heard of. There are people living here on this land; all humans with needs, fears and hopes.  Israelis and Palestinians alike have good claims to the same land and often both want peace with the other side.  I asked myself what I could do with this as an outsider and found that for me I cannot just chose a side. There is so much more to consider. I cannot ask whose humanity means more to me because I have lived with them both and they are equally human in my sight. One side is not more worthy than the other to live on this land.

I was asked recently in a group event to pick a picture off a table that represented Israel the most to me. I picked one that had a tall, thin pile of rocks stacked on top of each other with Israeli flags sticking out of it and a road going behind it in the distance. This land of Israel is what other people consider to be their rock and they are represented by the flags sticking out of the rock structure that is Israel. Right now I feel like I am on the road behind it passing it by because Israel is not my rock and never will be. It has ancient Biblical sites and stories embedded in this place that I can learn from and try to understand more clearly, but the actual soil and land do not mean much to me as an outsider. My rock is God alone on whom I stand.

As such, I view Israel-Palestine as a place full of beautiful people who all have their hopes and dreams for peace in this land. I believe they can share this hope in some way in the future. So to me Israel is not a land of soil but a land of unique people who all deserve love and respect. As a child of God I can show them love and respect, but can also listen and point to the peace and justice of God, who I believe alone can help them to find peace with each other. I do not feel that actions from me as an outsider will do much good. God, my rock, has helped me understand more about this conflict where love is needed and the hope of the generations can still be born anew.

-Ariel Kiser