Of the many questions people ask about God’s reasoning or His motives, the best and most interesting question in my mind is why let us walk this flawed walk at all? If disaster really isn’t beautiful and perfection is how it was supposed to be, why did He allow Adam and Eve to even take their first breath? He knew how it would all go down. He knew she would be tempted, that she would succumb. He knew Adam would listen to and follow her wrong directions.
He knew David would murder for lust, that Churchill would drink too much, that Marilyn would use her beauty to seduce, that I would overanalyze just about everything He’d put in front of me.
Some of you may be attracted to those hurricanes that ravage your life. I see what you mean. I do. It’s the songs that talk about the worst things that hit me the most, that dark, slow picking at the guitar. Honestly it kills me. And for some reason I like it. But I think it’s wishful thinking that it’s a good thing. I think that it’s actually some combination of sympathy, empathy, and a plain cop out. Like: “Somebody went through that? How did he crawl into my soul and put the words onto paper and even match the melody? Then: “Mmm. Feeling not crazy feels really good. Maybe all those bad things aren’t really so bad. Maybe they’re kind of beautiful.”
But you know: heartbreak truly is ugly. Drugs truly don’t make you feel good long enough. Sex really isn’t better than love. Not being willing to wait on God really can mess something good up. Having pride in yourself doesn’t really bring you lasting self-esteem. “Getting yours” doesn’t actually make you happy. And living through making all the wrong decisions isn’t pretty, even if God picks the pieces up on the other side.
That’s just grace.
Society chases the good stuff so hard. It’s all over the TV, in music, in the conversations that fill the earth. We want to be happy. The solutions abound. The “solutions.” But then you try the solution and it works for a while then one day it doesn’t and heart meets meat grinder one more time and either you resign yourself to an unrecognizable soul or you try the next thing, if you think you can.
If you’re me, you met Jesus early, so as time goes on you learn that Jesus is the only solution, to all the problems. You still wake up every morning not having done what you wanted to do the day before. You are tired but that’s stupid because everyone is tired, and you realize consistently, and quite unwillingly, that the stuff you have done right with your life you can’t actually take credit for. You are unable to reconcile your absolute need to worship Jesus in mind and in action with your desire to make the people you love happy, because though the two collide sometimes, they never always do, and you worry about that. And you worry that you’ve decided to love too many people, that you’re doing a bad job at it. That’s it’s not love at all, then. Then you feel dumb for worrying about that because who is the hero? Right, not I. And you realize that only a person with pride that could fill a mountain would even think themselves capable of doing what you think you can do. And you hate pride, because it’s you. And every humble moment you have is recognized as such, and therefore negated. Then you shake your head at the devil who can somehow still twist your mind. You are blessed beyond measure, but you still want to go back to Venice, and you think, “but why do I neeeedd Venice? There’s work to be done.” You are abominably impatient. Your tact level could use an overhaul. Probably for the next thirty years. You could say less, pray more. You could figure out how to tell people how you feel without sounding like you’re just giving directions. Because you are horrible at that.
If you’re me.
What I’m saying is that I am very bad at being perfect. There is one thing, though, that in this human body I value more than being now perfect. (Because the one thing is possible, the other is not). I must let God be God. I have to let Him define right and wrong. And I have to accept defeat when His ideas and mine don’t align. Friends, I hope you never think that I think I’m perfect. I don’t. But I think that God is, that His words are. I am nothing but a messenger. Calling a spade a spade is so, so important. When God says all those moral laws that we think are outdated are meant to be, they are meant to be. Time doesn’t change God, because He isn’t bound by it.
Raise your kids. We have problems in the world right now. Real problems. Can we step back a minute? Can we stop macromanaging? (Not a word, I know.) But I feel like we’re missing a very relevant molehill for the mountain. I hate to say this, because it’d be nice if it weren’t true, but folks you can’t legislate away heart problems. You can’t legislate away fear, or disregard for life, or hatred, impatience, tactlessness, selfishness, the things people do when they’re desperate. What? The last one? Yes, that one, too. Can’t you tell? Has the world not shown you?
But teaching your kid the value of another soul? You can do that. Not using words that divide people into categories when speaking to their new minds? You can do that. You might have been raised that way, but they don’t have to be. Teaching your kids patience and true selflessness? You can do that. Teaching your child not only to work, but to freely give to others? You can do that. You can show that.
You can love your neighbor. You can teach your mind to view people differently. You can even hold beliefs absolutely contrary to theirs and still live peaceably. Yes! Peaceably! You can hold your tongue sometimes, too. You can even speak boldly. You can suffer for the sake of what’s good. But you’ve got to be willing to do that peaceably, too. You can do this and let the world see that you do actually give a crap, but that it’s not just a sentence in a status update, but a way of life. And peace is contagious, just as hatred is.
The thought really on my mind is a thought I’ve had before. It isn’t about being happy. Since the fall, this life never truly was. It’s about meeting God, for the first time, in that whisper that’s more real than anything. It’s about letting Him in, all the way. It’s about being redeemed. Then it’s about struggle. It’s about doing the right thing, even when it sucks really bad and even when desire grips you like what feels like the hand of God. (It’s not. God doesn’t tempt you. Ever.)
We shouldn’t chase happiness or pure intensity or the things that make us feel inspired just because they make us feel inspired. (Hitler inspired people, too. And not just “bad” people, whatever that means). We should pursue Him instead, and let Him rain on us what He may. It’s when I open my eyes and see this that His famed peace comes flooding in. And let me tell you – I haven’t found anything better than that. I’d tell you.
Have a little faith. Surrender. This test is only for a little while.
And give, give, give, give. Every single problem in the world starts with one individual, inside one soul, and it permeates the world around them. Be a light before taking time to condemn the vessels of darkness.