Change of Mind?
Over the past week I’ve had several people from home call me worried that Yosemite National Park was being evacuated. I was asked about major rock falls over the past week by friends, family, and guests alike. At first this was all very confusing because I never heard a rock slide or any news about a recent one in the valley. However, I eventually figured it out.
You see, there is this team of geologists that study the rocks and cliffs here in Yosemite. And they have been looking at these rocks for quite some time. The last major rock fall happened around 2008 and forced the closing of many guest accommodations and employee housing. The areas that were forced to close after that incident were decided by these geologists who estimated where the danger zone should be. Well, just last week the geologists decided that the danger line should probably be extended a little bit. So the National Park Service adopted this new safety line which forced the closing of some tents and cabins in Curry Village. Don’t worry, Yosemite is still open and no one is being evacuated.
This whole series of events, along with the book Prodigal God by Timothy Keller (which I just finished reading), got me thinking about a few different things. First, I thought about a few instances in the Bible in which God changes his mind about a situation. Second, I thought about what kind of people come to the national parks to live and work. Finally, I was able to somewhat make a connection between our behavior and God’s response.
There are several instances in the Bible where God changes his mind, similar to the geologists. In Genesis, God first seems pleased with creation but later appears disappointed he ever created man and sends a flood to destroy the human race. In Exodus, God tells Moses about a plan to destroy the Israelites, but after Moses pleads, the Israelites are spared. A similar story is told in Jonah when God uses Jonah to warn Nineveh that the city will be destroyed in three days. This time, the people repent and God decides to allow them to live.
The people in these stories remind me of the people in the park. Some people come here to figure life out. Others may be down on life so they come to the parks to find themselves again. Either way, many of the people here are on a journey.
Now finally, what is this kid rambling on about? I think the connection here is found in the parable of the prodigal son. The entire Bible points to Jesus and this parable is an explanation of how grace through faith in Jesus works. I think all of the accounts I mentioned above of God turning from his anger really just point to God’s ultimate plan for humanity through Jesus. In the parable of the prodigal son, we see two kinds of people. We see the younger son, the wayward child, who squanders the wealth of his father and the older son who self-righteously stayed at home. I think we all easily identify with younger sons in real life.
The older sons, however, are who this story was directed to. The elder son in the story is upset when his brother comes home because when the father accepts him back and cancels his debt, the younger son again becomes an heir. This means that the older brother must now share the inheritance (now greatly diminished because of the actions of the younger brother) with his brother, even though he remained faithful. This brings to question the motive of elder sons. Are we living in obedience to God because we love and desire Him more, or are we in it for the perks of a heavenly inheritance?
The point I’m trying to make and what I’ve come to learn this week is this: if there are younger brothers around us we need to embrace them. We must escape the older brother mentality that rigidly abides by rules and waits for God’s anger to justly deal with younger brothers. None are righteous. God “changed his mind” once and for all when Christ paid the price for us all.
So this is what I’ve learned this past week. It is refreshing. And challenging. Now I know I must make the most of every opportunity here, especially in the form of relational ministry. I encourage you to do the same. Invite those around you into a relationship with Jesus and to become members of the family. If you tend to sway toward the side of being an elder brother like me, think about what Christ has done and what God could have done. It puts things into perspective.
Until next time,