March 2, 2013

Reflections: Like a fairy tale, message of faith is that in the final wash of events, all will be well


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REFLECTIONS is a column written by members of Maine's faith-based community. Opinions expressed in the column reflect the author's view and not necessarily that of the newspaper.

Are you listening? As Cinderella had a friend in high places, so we are persuaded by our faith that God is busy in our lives. Undeniably, as in Cinderella's world, the scenery of our world is vulnerable, constantly shifting -- things are not always what at first they seemed. I am inclined to name this The Cinderella Effect -- present experience may be colored by disappointment; then suddenly, we know a reversal of fortunes. Something all wrong becomes an open door to a different kind of future. In this life, nothing is guaranteed. We are, as poet Wilfred Owen allowed, vulnerable to "chance's strange arithmetic." As lovely and wonderful the world may be most of the time, it is not necessarily a safe place. There are threats. Events may find us off guard. Here, insecurity is the default position of our lives. Nevertheless ...

The message of faith, as in the fairy tale, is that in the final wash of events all shall be well. There is no darkness so dark -- in this world or the next -- but that God can finally bring light to it. We can entrust the outcome to God who has given us being. That is the essential message of the Christian story for our world. Events may sometimes take us down. God, on the other hand, is prepared to stay with us in and through all disappointments and challenges that may encompass us. Distresses and challenges often become the foundations of a more vital relationship with God. God can lead us through frustrating events to a new way of becoming.

Now the question: Are we up to living confidently in light of this faith? Life with God means that we must be prepared for surprise, even chaos...sometimes inviting it. It is leaving room for the unintended. It is to be vulnerable to the uncertain event and quite possibly its benedictions and its refusals. It is recognizing that this is God's world. God's purposes will often override our little orderings. Still, not to worry, for God can strengthen us in our faith, enabling us to handle the turnings, the twisting, the heights and depths of our lives. We are persuaded that we have a prayer-hearing God looking out for us. It may not always seem a safe world; however, it is the best kind of world for becoming.

The more curious of you, dear readers, may wish to read God's action story in Jeremiah 18:1-6. Our lives are indeed very much like clay in the hands of a capable potter. God can bring unimagined possibility, even from a spoiled beginning.

The Rev. Merle G. Steva is minister of visitation at the First Parish Church in Saco.


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