Trending this week on twitter and FB…Leafs game 7 (boooooooo) (sorry Leaf Fans).
Thankfully there were two other sports stories to replace it…The Raptors…Vladdy Jr. and the Blue Jays. (The Toronto Sports scene is in a good place)

Something topped that this week, not just in Toronto, but around the world…the release of Avengers EndGame. Not everyone is a fan, but many, many people are…all age groups in fact. (7-70)

Biggest #hastags by weeks end and into this weekend?
#DontSpoilEndgame (800 an hour)
#SpoilerEndgame (2400 an hour)
Also note worth, a man was beat up outside a theatre for spewing out spoilers…Ok, this could be fakenews, but it does make for a crazy story, doesn’t it?

Spoiler? What is it?

Sports: you’re not able to watch the game, you’re recording it, and you don’t want to know the score…
NetFlix: the crew you’re watching a show with watches the next episode without you (boooooo) especially if that crew is your spouse.
Movies: Don’t talk about the movie with people who haven’t seen it yet.

These are all ‘non-life-threatening’ spoilers. They only influence our desire for good entertainment.

Life Spoilers are obviously much worse and more real. Why is that?

  • it’s not about the ‘a’ story, but ‘your’ story
  • what you expect vs what actually happens
  • what you hope for vs what transpires

In Ann Lamott’s recent book, Stitches, she talks about finally buying a house for her and her 10 year old son. They ere so excited. Unfortunately, they quickly found out that the previous owners had a few big dogs that weren’t trained so well. These dogs frequently peed on the floor. So much so that it got into the sub floor, into the joists, and into the basement. As she says so well, “That’s right, I moved into a house with dog urine in the joists.” Talk about a spoiler. If that happens to you, you have full permission to complain.

We all have our own stories, don’t we? We were well, until we weren’t, we had a job, until we didn’t, our family was doing well, until it wasn’t, the atmosphere at work was good, until the new guy or girl arrive, etc.

3 C’s accompany our real life spoilers: Confusion – Complaining – Crapp-i-ness.

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For the next few weeks (posts) we’ll be in a spring teaching series, The Middle.
– faith and life intersect
– real faith is always intertwined in real life
– this is where questions, disappointment, tragedy, hurts, doubts, darkness, relationships, discernment, decisions, all happen.
– and when we ask things like, “where is God in the middle of all of this stuff?” and “how do I work through all of these feelings and emotions and issues?”

Scripture gives us permission to be confused, to complain, and to identify what is crappy in our life. The Bible is full of real stories about real people who are figuring out how to follow God.

I think all of scripture reflects this, but especially places like the Psalms.

  • Honest, Raw, Real, Lament, Dark,
  • Prayer/Conversation (btw, prayer is conversation)
  • Psalm 13 is the classic tale of Why? Where? How? Trust!

God in the Middle of it All…

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Habakkuk – a short book that does the same thing. It’s an expanded Psalm with a few more details, that ends with what some call a Psalm like text.

Look and Listen to the conclusion of Habakkuk…(3:2, 16-19)

Lord, I have heard of your fame;
    I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day,
    in our time make them known;
    in wrath remember mercy…

I heard and my heart pounded,
my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
to come on the nation invading us.
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Saviour.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.

These words, like those of the Psalms, have comforted people for years and years.

Verses 17-19 reflect Habakkuk’s perspective in a difficult situation…something we can all relate too.

But where does this start? What brings Habakkuk to this conclusion?

First, a little about the writer of this short story, Habakkuk.
– a prophet
– a minor prophet at that (compared to a major prophet)(two kinds in the OT)
– his role as prophet is to receive a message from God and share it with Israel…feel a burden from God and let Israel know about it.
– the (prophetic) message is meant to edify, build up, warn, sometimes judge and often or always critique in some way.
– Habakkuk believed that evil was real, and that we had to deal with it rather than run away from it.
– his name means, listen to this, embrace & wrestle. How appropriate (cf Jacob wrestling with God in Genesis 32)
– this challenges us to embrace what’s come our way, wrestle with it, and move forward because of it.

Seems like Israel is not living up to the ways God has called her to live…this upsets Habakkuk. A few spots of tension are…injustice, sin, loss of identity, etc.

Habakkuk does the one thing humans are good at: Complain. There’s tension, confusion, crap-i-ness. Instead of hiding it, repressing it, sweeping it under the proverbial rug, he addresses it – like his name means – he embraces it and wrestles with it.

Listen to these raw words from chapter 1…

How long, Lord, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted.

Habakkuk lays it on the table…he lets it go…

And the conversation begins with him…and with God

  • Habakkuk complains
  • God responds (not in the way Habakkuk wants)
    • I’m going to do something, but with people that you least expect
    • have you ever been taught a lesson from someone who you think very little of? That’s what’s going on here.
  • Habakkuk complains again
    • But God…how can you…(read below)

Lord, are you not from everlasting?
    My God, my Holy One, you will never die.
You, Lord, have appointed them to execute judgment;
    you, my Rock, have ordained them to punish.
13 Your eyes are too pure to look on evil;
    you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.
Why then do you tolerate the treacherous?
    Why are you silent while the wicked
    swallow up those more righteous than themselves?

  • God responds again (paraphrasing)
    • Write down what I tell you
    • Share it clearly
    • Be patient
    • Learn from this
    • 5 Woes(judgements or critiques)for those who
      • piles up wealth unethically
      • build up their homes with unjust gain
      • build a city with blood
      • take advantage of neighbours
      • trusts in idols they’ve created, more than God, who is ‘the’ creator

All this leads to what we read earlier from chapter 3. This conversation leads Habakkuk to pray these words…

Lord, I know who you are.
Lord, do what only you can do.
Lord, can you do those things for us – again?

And then, the way every good song or piece of music resolves, this song comes to an appropriate end…

17 Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,

What is your ‘though…’?
What is your ‘even if…’?
What is your normal conditions for success, growth, accomplishment, satisfaction?

Habakkuk is basically saying, even if things aren’t as I want them, as I see them, as I expect them to be. Still…yet…I will trust in God.

18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Saviour.
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.

Here’s the clincher…
God wants to be in the middle of our confusion, complaining and crap-i-ness.

Spoilers will come. Things will blow up in front of you. Someone will say something, do something, ruin something – that effects you personally, or like Habakkuk, that effects you spiritually. But…

Don’t ever keep God out, let him in.

Don’t ever keep it from God, tell him everything.

Don’t ‘not ask questions’, instead, lay all your questions on the table.

And…don’t try and escape it, but let God walk you through it.

What does it look like for God to give you feet, shoes, tools, to walk through something and not around it?

Habakkuk doesn’t say, ‘remove me from this’, he says, give me what I need to walk through it. Enable me to tread on this rough terrain, through this rough season.

Pray this, would you…

God…stay here…with me…in the middle of this…let’s walk through this…together.

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Week #1 Quotes: