Back from vacation and now back to work. I am on "study week" which in theory is a time for me to read and think and recharge my brain for work. It is a nice combination with vacation where in theory you take time away (vacate) and do nothing except live life with your family. As we all know, vacations are potentially fun but there is always a chance it will be more stress than work. I was blessed, our time at the beach and last week in Chicago were good times. I saw family and Chicago has lots of nice things to do (like the Botanical Gardens and Art Museum). It was a good week.
Now I am back and my study time is preparing Bible study notes for my parallel Gospel Bible study. I am way behind so this blog will be brief. I am really, really way behind! I have lots of reading and writing to do...
We went to Wrigley Field (which is Cubs' Park--I am a White Sox fan) last Friday night to see Billy Joel. It was a birthday present to my wife and we did not know he would be there when we decided to go. My Aunt and Uncle (and cousin) took care of my son and we drove and took a bus to the concert. It took a long time, Chicago traffic is bad and so much construction! We could not find a place to eat because of the crowds so we decided to eat the ball park food. My wife walked in and then I heard a buzzer sound when I tried to get in. I screamed for her and thankfully she heard me. After we did a brief analysis we found that we had a duplicate ticket. Whoever sent her the tickets had printed off two of the same. It looked bad.
We were sent across the street to Stub Hub (she got the tickets through them online) and I was amazed at how wonderful the two men we dealt with were. They asked some questions, got the information they needed, and kept assuring us it was going to be fine. I have rarely met people more kind or pastoral (to use a theology term). They were attentive to us and kept saying it would work out. And it did. We were able to get replacement tickets and returned to the stadium in time for the concert.
We were saved.
The Bible uses the word 'saved' a lot. It usually refers to situations and events like the one we experienced. A person is in some sort of trouble or need. A person finds themselves unable to take care of the problem. A person cries out for help and the help comes and there is restoration. It may be danger or may be hunger or it may be any number of other "tight spots" but in each case the person is unable to take care of it themselves. Someone else has to intervene.
Sometimes we use the word saved in a very limited and spiritual sense. It is a code word for "getting into heaven." Now I certainly think that eternity is important (one might say eternally important). I am not negating that, but the use of the word 'saved' is analogical and based on every day experiences. What God has in store for eternity is a 'big version" of the every day ways that He (in and through creation) saves us in all manner of ways. All salvation is not life and death. Sometimes we get saved by two wonderful employees of Stub Hub who view our problem as their own, take care of it while being attentive to our worries and fears, and send us on our way with replacement tickets. Sometimes we have our souls saved. Sometimes we have our birthday evening concert saved.
The ancient Jew knew to be aware of the multiple moments each day that a hand of salvation was there to deliver them from this or that, big things and not so big things. Getting saved, from whatever it is, is a reminder that we are cared about and cared for. I have been in lots of situations where people "doing their job" did not exhibit the care and efficiency that the two men in Chicago at the Stub Hub tent outside Wrigley Field before the Billy Joel concert did. For what they did I remain thankful. And for a moment of grace that opened a window of awareness in my mind about how God is always at work I am thankful. It is easy to tak it for granted. I am glad I had a chance to see and be aware.
Jesus looked at the world that way, always attentive to what was going, always able to see insights or analogies or metaphors for God. It is tempting to think that the only things that matter are life and death issues. However, sometimes it is all a matter of living every day life, things like eating and drinking and music. God cares about each moment of each day. Each moment is a gift. And it we are paying attention, we may notice how often we are being saved, from this or that.