Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Table Before Me

"Evil cannot create anything."

This was one of approximately three hundred billion mind-blowing statements Dr. Dan Allender made at The Story Workshop, which I attended in Seattle last month. If you know anything about Dr. Allender (or Dan, as I call him now because we are totally BFFs...sort of), you know that this is just how the guy talks. I struggled to keep up with the sheer volume and speed of beautiful truth that poured, not only from Dan, but from every part of my experience that week.

I am sure that I will, at least over the next several weeks, reference this conference quite a bit. It was and continues to be pretty life altering. But I'm going to heed some wise counsel and take it in small bites (not my usual M.O.) and slow down and really ruminate. (I'm being so zen right now...)

So, anyway. About this statement -- evil cannot create anything.

God is the Original Creator. Whatever you believe about creation (and believe me, we'll come back to this one someday *big sigh*), if you are a Christian, then you believe that God started...whatever it was He started. So, He's the Creator, and evil does not share this power.

I love this because it completely realigns what I believe to be some pretty unbalanced teaching in the evangelical church about Satan or the Devil or the Enemy or the Boogey Man. Here's what evil can do...







Certainly this is a power that is to be reckoned with and not minimized. But, the face of God's ability to


Bring Life,



and just generally

Turn On the Lights...

Who will win? Where evil seeks to bring chaos, it has to work with what is already there. And the kicker for us is that, at least for now, when evil wants to screw with my life it doesn't need my permission. The current state of matters is such that I can do everything I reasonably know to do to bring about goodness in my world, and evil can still mess with me. This happens because there are other people in my life who have choices of their own to make, and because there is this random and diffuse force of disease and decay that is impossible to resist. It affects the entire planet. (For a more extensive discussion of this topic, I recommend Why Sin Matters by Mark McMinn.)

What do we say, then, in the face of such singular focus on destruction? Well, I don't know what you say. But I say these things, and others.

"I have streams in the desert."

"I am perplexed, but not in despair."

"I am struck down, but not destroyed."

"He prepares A Table Before Me in the presence of my enemies."

I am not destroyed. And I'll do ya one better...I have abundance. Evil came at me, and perplexed me, and knocked me down. But now?

My material needs are met, and then some. My relational needs are met, with love to spare. My vocation is richly rewarding. I have moments of pure golden light in which all I can manage to say is, "Where did this come from?"

And that, my friends, is because only God can make something from nothing. Only God can bring kindness and grace and beauty, where before there was only pain and...inevitability. I was sure the pain would cause me to perish. But it did not. And almost all of the time now, I know it will not.

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