Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Black Box

Over the last few weeks I've doing a lot interviewing for the vacancies we're looking to fill within our organisation. I find it an exciting undertaking because of my overarching belief in God's sovereign ability to steer and guide individual destinies. As I've sat down and listened to person after person describing themselves and their story I've realised that there are two kinds of Christians. The first group relate the journey of their lives in a strange sort of shorthand saying things like, "...and then God told me to go to Birmingham." The second group have noticeably different language opting to interpret the twists and turns of their lives by recognising the hand of God through certain circumstances or relationships. I've decided to call the first group the Black Box group, I don't know what to call the second group yet.
So why the Black Box? Well, the Black Box is a virtually indestructible bit of equipment carried on aeroplanes to ensure that all the vital communications and measurements from the journey are recorded. The contents of the Black Box (actually they tend to be orange) can only be interpreted by a trained expert using special equipment. This relates to the more general use of the phrase 'Black Box' as a way of describing any kind of process that gives the impression of happening beyond the limits of observation or analysis.
My faith journey over the last few years could perhaps be described as a movement out of the first group and into the second group. I don't want to be too quick to slap the label 'GOD' onto everything that has the appearance of being slightly coincidental or spooky. Indeed by choosing to investigate the deeper causes of happenings in my life I want to begin to get to know God better - but it's not easy. Whilst part of me is excited by the Psalmist's aspiration "Show me your ways" (Psalm 25:4) another part of me feels a bit awkward following a "did God really say?" (Genesis 3:1) train of thought. I suppose ultimately it's the motivation that matters. By that I mean that I have no desire to rationalise all potentially divine activity, rather I want to connect with the reality of God at the deepest level. To do that I know I need to get inside the Black Box.

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