As I've said before, I'm going very slowly through the book of Romans. Chapter 9 has had it's challenges for me. I don't find it as exciting as chapter 6 or 8 and it has a different tone than chapter 7. Paul's getting into why God chose us.
I believe Matt Chandler says it best - God doesn't look down on the human race and pick people because He sees potential in us. He's not like, "I want that guy on my team! He will make Me look really good." We have no idea why God chose us. It's so much deeper than any our pea brains can comprehend. I know I sound like a broken record but I need to hear it and read it - we all deserve death. Sin's only punishment is death and just us being born deserves death because the disease of sin is all over our body. We are already infected. Each cell in our body holds sin.
From that, God has - for some reason much bigger than all of us - chosen those who He will show mercy to through Salvation of Jesus. AHHHH! That is so amazing! We all should have judgement but He has shown His mercy for some. That blows my mind. Paul writes in Romans 9:14-24 -
What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion." So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth." Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.
You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?" But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, "Why have you made me like this?" Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?
What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
This passage is hard for me to "get" as an American. Our own constitution pretty much says that we all deserve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That's a lot of rights but we are first Christians. And because of that we all first deserve death (hmmm - makes me selfishly want to be an American first).
I don't want to think I have election and God's ways all figured out because I don't and He will continue to shape and mold me into whatever He wants me to think. I just need to remember that as a Christian - I have no rights. Which means that I don't get to do whatever I want to do. And that is the hardest part.
On a lighter note (okay - not really), Martin is talking about Law School again. Every part of me says NO! But who am I? I don't know what God has. This I do know: I'm not in charge of me. God is in charge of me and then He's given Martin to me to lead us. And that means I need to let him lead me. I don't do that by smiling and being quiet as we go down a cliff. But I pray about it and then voice my concerns in a non-manipulating way (oh so hard for women and I am the chief!) then I encourage. I'm not scared that God is going to allow us to "pick the wrong door" to walk through. That's silly. We're following Him through His Word, prayer and wise counsel. He's not going to allow us to do anything He doesn't want us to do. It's really that simple.
But truly on a lighter note, I'm starting to paint our dark wood trim in the living room. I fell in love with the dark woodwork (it's only in the living room and dining room) when we first moved in but now I'm ready for a change - white. The bad part is - I sanded down my fingers. Nails yes but also the tips of my fingers. I thought I felt something burning as I was sanding. Now I know what it is.