At first today I thought I would write about the church that has filed a restraining order to keep someone with autism out of their church. I'm afraid though that my writings about that would contain massive amounts of profanity and could possible incite riots. I will simply state about that moronic church...what the hell!!! (literally)
What I will really write about today is the ways in which we typically label "victory", "success", and even "abundant life". Anyone that has spent any time at all in a church knows that Jesus came to give us abundant life...but what does that mean? I think we typically think less as a realist and more as a hedonist. Hedonism is when people seek pleasure and avoid pain. Christianity for many people is a shame reducer, guilt deflector and an overall license for hedonism to exist...in the name of Jesus, of course.
What I mean by that is that if I am not dead or dying, I haven't had a diagnosis of cancer, I am not sad, depressed, lonely, hungry, etc...then I am victorious, successful and obviously being blessed by God. However, if people are treating me poorly, I don't have enough money, I am sick, I hate my job, it is raining outside or my kids are acting like they have no discipline (they are 2, 3 and 5 years old), well then I have to ask "where is God?"..."Why am I suffering so?"..."I thought if I tithed, prayed, went to church and am nice to people, life would be easy, fun and well, can I say easy again?"
That sounds silly when I read it and though we may never admit that we feel that way...don't we? I know at times in my life I have been a bold, prophetic warrior when things were going well but, add the case of the flu, marital conflict or money crunches and it becomes so easy to climb into a corner and retreat. I assume others have been there too.
And what about something beyond behavior? What about how I feel and how near I think God is? I think this is where we believe the great lie of "perception is reality". Perception is just that, perception. My perception isn't reality and in fact my perception usually just reveals my skewed theology, pet sins or areas of insecurity. The great people in the Bible reveal that their perception is as skewed as mine. David asks "How long will you forget me Lord, forever?"...and what about Jeremiah accusing God of seducing him and raping him? Are those cases of accurate perceptions?
So what does it mean if life really sucks right now...for whatever reason? It means I am still alive. It means I continue to make this journey and it means that God is still God. I am convinced that God is utterly unconcerned about my comfort but his is obsessive about my transformation.
I have a friend who is currently going through a tough time. She has endured radiation, surgery, procedures and she feels worn down, beaten up and defeated. Is she defeated...even if she feels that she is? No. Is she doing something wrong and being punished? No. Is she human, alive and continuing to grow in her walk with God? Yes. The point about growth with God is that my growth or her growth or your growth is a process. As a process the growth or progress can't be measured in feelings or even behavior. God uses the things in our lives, whether good or bad, for his glory. Even our sin, gives God the avenue through which to glorify himself and accentuate his mercy, grace and boundless love.
In a recent message my friend said she has even allowed her condition to limit her writing. I smiled when I read that...for two reasons. First, because I greatly understand where she is coming from. Second, because I thought to myself, "your words are still being read by all those who know you and are coming in loud and clear". God is not far off, God is not finished and neither are we. "Keep pressing on toward the upward call of Christ" (Philippians 3). And smile!