Monday, August 22, 2011

Deus Ex Machina

In ancient Greek Theatre there was an element called, "Deus Ex Machina". It meant "god in machine" and was utilized by Sophocles and other Greek theatre guys. Sometimes the plot would get sticky and the main characters would find themselves in a situation that was truly impossible to escape or resolve. The play-write would then write in this marvelous machine which would bring a god down from on high to magically sort out the situation and restore all things aright. It was one of my favorite Greek devices because it was so handy to resolve any and all theatrical problems. I distinctly remember in college talking with my theatre buddies about how useful this would be in real life. We would make up situations, many times including exams we didn't study for, which were impossible to come out of smelling like a rose...and then we'd introduce our crazy god-machine and a beautiful resolution to our glitch.

Today in my quiet time something I read made me think again of Deus Ex Machina. This quote is from "Streams in the Dessert" by C.E. Cowman. The reading was talking about how the apostle Paul was often in dire straights. Onetime in Damascus, he had to flee for his life. In order to escape from those who would harm him, Paul's friends hid him in a basket (!!) and lowered the basket over the wall of the town. Once on the other side, Paul clambered out of the basket and ran for his life! Paul also survived a treacherous shipwreck, none of the passengers on the ship died either!

Read here what I read about Paul's shipwreck: "Again we find {Paul} left for months in the lonely dungeons; we find him telling of his watchings, his fastings, and his desertion by friends, of his brutal and shameful beatings, and here even after God has promised to deliver him, we see him for days left to toss upon a stormy sea, obliged to stand guard over the treacherous seaman, and at last when the deliverance comes, there is no heavenly galley sailing from the skies to take off the noble prisoner; there is no angel form walking along the waters and stilling the raging breakers; there is no supernatural sign of the transcendent miracle that is being wrought; but one is compelled to seize a spar, another a floating plank, another to climb on a fragment of the wreck, another to strike out and swim for his life. Here is God's pattern for our own lives.....God's promises and God's providences do not lift us out of the plane of common sense and commonplace trail, but it is through these very things that faith is perfected, and that God loves to interweave the golden threads of His love along the warp and woof of our every day experience." (emphasis mine)

God is not the god of the Greek Deus Ex Machina! God is the very wise God who knows that if He were to come and remove us from the sticky situations of life we would be none the wiser, no more mature, no more faith-filled, and no more trusting of Him than before we got into the sticky situation!

I loved being reminded this morning of my theatre knowledge, but I loved even more seeing how faithful my God is. He allows me to be sticky in the sticky messy situation so that I can grow all the more beautiful in Him. He is not absent, He is not ignorant, He is not malicious! He loves me so much that he allows me to be sticky in His presence. He equips me to get un-sticky through the power of His very Holy Spirit.

Praise God for my Jesus who did come down to earth and does know all about sticky messy lives, yet loves us in spite of that, even died to save us from the eternal consequences.


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