Hard to Find, Harder to Miss

Good Story: a linked thread of occurrence, real or fictitious, in, around, and after trouble of some degree or sequence, in which the triune nature is consistently revealed with artistry either through the real actions and choices of particular characters, the author’s direct participation, or through the author’s indirect judgments latent in the choices of style and arrangement in the recounting.

—N. D. Wilson, Death by Living, 72

Parents Are Always Parenting

Other real live souls are now depending on you. You are the creator of their childhoods. You are the influencer of their dreams and tastes and fears. You are the emcee of all reality, the one to introduce those small people to the true personality of their Maker (as imaged by your life more than your words). The choices you now make have lives riding on them. Always.

—N. D. Wilson, Death by Living, 44

A Visible Purpose

Abraham Kuyper stated that his aim was to equip a body

of spiritually mature, sober-living, serious people who, consciously assuming God’s promises and in the tradition of the historic Reformed church, sought to make visible in their personal lives and the life of the nation something of the kingdom of God.

–quoted in For the Healing of the Nations: Essays on Creation, Redemption, and Neo-Calvinism

Right Where He Wants Them

John Calvin remarks on the rage of the nations and the response of Yahweh in Psalm 2:4.

[W]hen God permits the reign of his Son to be troubled, he does not cease from interfering because he is employed elsewhere, or unable to afford assistance, or because he is neglectful of the honour of his Son; but he purposely delays the inflictions of his wrath to the proper time, namely, until he has exposed their infatuated rage to general derision.

Commentary on the Book of Psalms

In other words, God has presidents and prime ministers right where He wants them to show off their ridiculous foolishness.

All Poor Devils

In light of all the reasons God gives us to be grateful–as a society, a church, in our families, and on the nitty-gritty of our dinner tables–why do so many grumble? We whine because we want to be God. Here’s a dependable observation from a dubious source, Friedrich Nietzsche.

There is a powerful causal drive within [man]: someone must be to blame for feeling bad…And waxing indignant makes him feel better, too: all poor devils take pleasure in cursing, it gives them a little rush of power. (Twilight of the Idols)

In other words, complaining is the closest we get to being God. We know that we can’t actually control anything but if we complain about it, then we can at least make ourselves feel like we are above the problems. Only those who aren’t trying to be God can thank God for whatever He gives. Otherwise we’ll just be fussy devils.

Leaders from the Front

The image of the shepherd is an extremely important biblical picture of a “leader” (Num. 27:17) because it implies not only an intensely personal relationship between God’s people and their leaders but a style or model of leadership exemplified by Jesus (cf. Mark 6:34). The very word “leadership” is developed from the shepherd imagery, where the shepherd goes before the flock and encounters the problems of the flock first. The shepherd does not issue commands in a pyramid fashion down to subordinates who carry out his wishes like a general or admiral who stays back out of range of the conflict; nor is a shepherd a whip-carrying organizer who drives the sheep into the pen or to a particular pasture. But the shepherd knows the setting, leads the sheep, and they follow him (cf. John 10:4). Sometimes “leaders” today are like the strangers of this text, whose voices are unknown to the sheep, and they wonder why there are problems in their organizations (cf. 10:5)!

Gerald Borchert, John 1–11, The New American Commentary, 332