Ever heard psalmists and David Crowder sing unabashedly of God being “everything they need” and wondered, What on earth are they talking about?
One of the chief comforts of Scripture when we are disappointed, discouraged, or heartbroken, is that the Christian’s highest goal is not that dream or achievement or milepost you’ve fallen short of, but knowing God. Making him your peace, your joy, your contentment, your soul’s richest food and water. He, the Bible tells us repeatedly, is the only thing that will truly ever satisfy.
But you might have noticed it doesn’t just drop in with the mail.
Where is it then, God? Where are you?
Or as a friend put it recently, “Why can’t I appropriate for myself what God has promised me?”
We know God is faithful. His side of the deal is inerrant and unfailing; there is no lie or failure with him.
Life has a way of breaking down your categories. You leave home and discover that Christians aren’t always decent people, nor atheists villains. You get a job and find out that some of the people out there with the foulest mouths and quickest tempers also have the very biggest hearts. You go through an election cycle. I’ll say no more about that. Whatever the case, our black-and-white definitions of things and people are constantly being broken down by life. It’s really a huge favor, if you think about it.
Same thing with marriage.
I’ve longed to be married for quite a while. I have many friends who can say the same. The world around me, too, seems convinced that this is the answer. You can tell by what they say, what they post, what they pursue. They just don’t talk about anything else. “Find a man who looks at you like…” Continue reading
(Part 1 and Part 3 of this series.)
Years ago, my college group attended a weekend retreat (at a hot springs!) without knowing the topic. The speaker hadn’t announced it beforehand. Later, we discovered that that was because the speaker himself didn’t know his subject until he got underway; God only revealed it to him then. That subject was marriage. And it didn’t take long to see why God in his wisdom had waited for the reveal: at the end of the retreat, numerous attendees, as they shook the speaker’s hand in gratitude for solid teachings, admitted that if they’d known the topic beforehand, they wouldn’t have come.
At a different young adults’ group I briefly attended, the pastor offered a choice of topics for the next series: one of Paul’s epistles, or relationships. Paul’s epistle won. By a landslide.
And a friend recently asked, “Can we quit making the first question we ask someone after we haven’t seen them for a long time, ‘Soooo, do you have a guy’?”
Why do so many millennials land anywhere from disinterested to fiercely opposed to marriage?
The answers, I suspect, reach double digits. I myself never numbered among the matrimonially disinterested, but over time, I’ve come to appreciate fellow millennials’ increasing desire for singleness. It stems from not a few understandable stalks. And as I said last week, blunt criticism of singleness, from even respectable evangelical figures, will never be as effective as understanding and encouragement.
One stalk, I think, could be described as a lack of affirmation.
I’m not exactly a people person by default. I’m one of those souls who wants friendship and likes some humanity close by, but prefers “his people”. Small inner circle, then acquaintances and colleagues, then everyone else (allowing for some shades of gray). Strangers? Yikes.
BUT…I’ve also asked myself more than once, “How is a personality like this supposed to spread the Gospel with any serious effectiveness?”
There’s a dangerous idea floating around.
It’s the idea that the world’s darkness can be overcome by anything but the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We seek spot welds, individual solutions to individual problems. The solution to racism is equality. The solution to poverty is charity. The solution to terrorism is…whatever your favorite politician is hawking. A different flavor soup for each symptom. John Lennon would have you believe that love is a key for every lock.
I’m not here to debate the validity of any of these. There’s something to each. Many seem to have the words of Jesus behind them, if you argue your case well enough.
But the scattershot approach is dangerous. It’s dangerous because the days are short, our energies precious, and false solutions are sucking them up. We have to see the problem through God’s eyes. And he’s got a much different take on what’s generating this mess.
No, I’m not dead.
*big sigh of relief (or disappointment)*
I just stepped away from the blog for a few weeks over the holiday, and honestly, it was nice to escape the pressure. I’m back now, and looking forward to your readership in 2018.
It’s funny…when people ask me how my 2017 went, I’ve found that my usual reaction is to fall back on the typical “oh man it was horrible, toss that one in the bin and bring in 2018!” that we all cynically throw around for a laugh. Or some version of that.
But then I stopped and realized…my 2017 was actually rather terrific.
…is it okay to say that?
As Frodo and Sam clung to the burning flanks of Mount Doom in Return of the King, the One Ring destroyed and their quest complete, Sam thought of Rosie Cotton, a girl back home in the Shire. If there were anyone who caught his eye, Sam lamented as the lava crawled near, “it would’ve been ‘er.”
Yet even as he mourned, there’s no doubt that the two hobbits’ hearts were full and glad. All of Middle Earth was saved! The darkness had been vanquished, the armies of the West delivered, and a new age of peace was dawning thanks to their bravery and sacrifice – even of their lives, they suspected, as the volcano melted down around them amidst the Ring’s death throes.
Of course, we know that Sam got his girl, because a bunch of eagles appeared out of nowhere and pulled the pair off the mountainside before they crisped. (Seriously, where were those eagles and their convenient carrying ability five volumes ago when Frodo first faced thousands of miles to Mordor? Talk about your continent-sized plot holes…)
But I digress.
My point is, it would have been silly to think that Sam underewent those unbelievable travails just for Rosie. He didn’t reach Mount Doom to find Rosie chained there, waiting for rescue. Had Rosie never existed, Sam would have gone. Much, much more was at stake – both outside the two hobbits and within.