None of us is a viable candidate.
I recently heard a man with a track record for diligence and quiet composure dismissed as a candidate for promotion as ‘not a viable candidate’. His critic may or may not have been clear-eyed about his verdict, but the words have lingered in my soul.
It strikes me that, when evaluated as candidates for kudos in this world and the next, each of us could be summarily dismissed with that same condemning sentence: not a viable candidate.
The apostle Paul, in his long and visceral struggle with the odd preferences of divine grace, lays hold of the ancient Hebrew prophets’ predilection for the paradox and irony that embed themselves deeply in YHWH’s way with his world.
As indeed he says in Hosea, ‘Those who were not my people I will call “my people,” and her who was not beloved I will call “beloved.”‘ And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ (Romans 9:25–26 ESV)
There is a terminal flaw in our capacity to predict both blessing and curse. The odd turns, the sudden lurches of grace befuddle our predictive abilities. We are, in the main, reduced to watching and wondering.
The sovereign nature of divine grace manages both to humble the presumptuous and to rehabilitate those who have been dismissed. It has ever been so.
One of the truest things we can declare about the Creator’s way with his creation is that we do not yet know the outcome.
Though secure in his grip, we come to expect the most outlandish surprise. We wait and we wonder.