Yesterday, I was contemplating how to begin a telling of The Story of God intersecting and redeeming His creation. The focus was primarily on a present state of unfulfilled exile, the sense that God is somehow distant. Today, I want to spend some time on the next movement, which is really God’s first motion.
I’ll happily say at the outset that for my understanding below I am hugely indebted to Elmer Martens’s God’s Design.
Throughout Scripture, but most definitively in the Christ story, God responds to His people in an exilic state with great acts of deliverance. It happens in large form, with the Exodus or the salvation offered by Jesus’ resurrection, for example. It happens in small form, say with any of the judges or David’s defeat of Goliath.
Wherever people find themselves in a place of exile, whether physically or in an exile of the heart (the sense that all is not right with the world, that God is distant), the Lord responds to their cries of help in various ways, but He is consistent in His efforts to rescue.
On a personal level, there is no more definitive sense of God’s real presence than when He dramatically intersects our not-right world to redeem what has been broken or restore what has been lost. We know the Lord is close when He saves.
As I’ll share this with a group of teens this evening, I’ll pick out a story that deals with a particular, rather than general, salvation. Tonight, I’ll work from the story of the woman with the blood issue and the story of Jairus’ resurrected daughter in Mark 5. Here we find two people in desperate need of God’s presence. They represent a larger national exile for Israel, sure, but their personal stories are valid as well. Many of us can relate to being in a place where our physical hardships, be they illness or disease or long standing injury, put us in a place of wondering whether our God sees or cares.
But the reality is that the Lord does see and He cares for the suffering of His children, even more than even the children themselves. And the reality is that our God heals, dramatically.
The hope of Jesus’ baptism is that the Creator God is coming near and soon. The reality of Jesus (and his Spirit distributed to believers) is that the Creator God and His rescue is now here.