Chuck is the worship pastor at Shoreline Church in Knoxville Tennessee. While his heartbeat is for the local church, he also loves traveling all over the country to lead the people of God in the worship God. Chuck is a FUGE Worship Leader and will be at Glorieta this summer. You can learn more about him, listen to some music, and read his thoughts on life and the gospel at www.chuckhooten.org.
My grandfather died September 15th at 5:20 in the afternoon. The joy I have experienced of watching a newborn baby inhale and exhale for the first time stands in stark contrast to watching someone’s chest rise and fall for the last. Both tell a story. Both are God’s language to speak to us truth about the gospel.
We are born questioning. Why do bad things happen? Why do people suffer and die? It is difficult to see the beauty of the sunrise or hear the pounding of the surf, and then reconcile that beauty, creativity, and love with the fact that we live in a world where everyone suffers and everyone dies. But, it is ironic that our questioning of God is at the very core of why this suffering and death exist. We assert ourselves as the authority and demand that God answer us, and in doing so we recreate the very scene in Eden where we first unlocked the floodgates of His wrath. Sin is realized in the actions of the fallen, but its essence is found in the heart that has set itself as the authority on what is to be and how it is to be accomplished.
As Eve stands in the perfection of God’s created world, the serpent comes to her…questioning. It has been by the word of God that everything exists. God has spoken, and the nothing has obeyed His voice and has become something. Where there was emptiness now stands plants, animals, oceans, and human beings. Light and darkness have found their place. The sun and the moon have arranged themselves, along with the stars, in a perfect dance of beauty, power, and spectacle. All of this owes its existence in the speech of God. The serpent will not come and assault the creation, for to any eye the creation is unquestionably good and perfect. The serpent will instead attack the very core of why the creation is good in the first place. The serpent asks the question, “Did God really say?” It is the word of God that the serpent will place on the witness stand and accuse of dishonesty and corruption.
We know the result of this conversation well. Our hearts are now programmed, above all things, to repeat like robots the question of the serpent, “Did God really say?” In the poem, Invictus, William Ernest Henley famously penned the words, “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” Here is a true anthem of the human heart. We are at the center. We are in control. We will be asking the questions and we will supply the reason that will validate the answers. We are gods.
God’s reaction is strange. He allows humanity to live. He does not kill us for our mutiny, but in mercy He places constraints on how far our mutinous hearts can travel. We are now born into the hard reality of how unqualified we are to be gods. We create things that kill. We decide on things that are selfish and ugly. We lord over others and demand they bow to our ways, and our ways do not end with the statement, “it was good.” We are unqualified masters, unqualified gods.
Yet in the center of the pain and the night of judgment comes the reality that God is still speaking, and that His words are full of hope and redemption. Genesis 3:15 is the gospel. The serpent will bruise the heel of the woman’s offspring, but the offspring of the woman will crush the serpent’s head. Jesus will come, Jesus will provide, and Jesus will end the struggle.
The road will be long and the price incomprehensible, yet God will provide and persevere with us until Eden is our reality again. If I question anything now, I pray that it is only a questioning of my heart and my intentions. I want God to be God and I want to die. I want my life to be a living sacrifice. I want to someday know that, just like my Papa, my chest will rise and fall one last time to reveal the reality that is God’s provision for my rebellion, and awake to a face to face meeting with the answer to all of my questions…Jesus.