I’m living in tension today. Actually, we all are, but sometimes it’s more noticeable than others. Here’s the deal:
On the one hand: friends I love are posting blogs about the times when it looks like God does not come through. How hard that is, and how weird. When God doesn’t sell your house in time to save your credit rating. When a newborn baby lives for only 2 days. When the guy doesn’t love you or you don’t get the job. When your life seems like the play-by-play video of an Alanis Morrissette song. The raw heartbreak is breathtaking and real and sweeps me back to so many questions. I have stories to add. You probably do, too. The pain is undeniable.
On the other hand: Tuesday night at small group, my friends and I decided to live into this quote: “Heaven is filled with absolute, perfect confidence in God. This world is filled with absolute mistrust. And you and I will always reflect the nature of the world we are most aware of. What you live conscious of is what you will reproduce in the world around you.” – Bill Johnson
We were pondering the Biblical account of Jesus’ life written by Mark, which kicks off chapter 1 with Jesus declaring, “The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news.”
What does that mean, practically speaking? How do we live it?
Repent means “change your thinking.” Which seems like what’s in order when God shows up and says, “Game on! Everything is changing right now. Believe the GOOD news I tell you, not the crap you see swirling all around. That’s just distraction. Tell it to stop.”
So we asked God to change our thinking. We agreed that we’d cooperate with this mental transformation in two ways:
First, we’d take authority over the crap swirl. This started early for me this morning, when I woke up from a dream about being rejected by friends, then was filled with a sense of anger/dread about preparing my taxes because they remind me of the loss of my career last year when we were trying to help Princess Peach, and how we lost her and still miss her every single day… and on and on from there. THAT is a crap swirl. It has lots of commas, and segues from one grim scenario to the next. The crap swirl would love to set the tone for the morning, or the whole day if I’m willing. But Jesus says there’s another option. FINALLY, when I remembered this, I climbed out of bed and told the swirl to STOP, in the name of Jesus. Then I mumbled some lyrics I heard yesterday about how “the God of angel armies is a friend of mine” as I shuffled to the kitchen for coffee. Swirl over. Clouds parted. Sunshine (internally, at least) breaking through. Hallelujah.
It’s pretty groovy, remembering that this is possible. But that’s only half. The second way we’re cooperating with God – believing Jesus that His Kingdom is near – is by looking and expecting God to do a miracle that we get to see, every single day. This takes some effort. I’m out of the habit of looking for miracles everywhere I go, which is sad, because I used to. I remember one friend asking me about this a few years back and how I told him, “Everywhere I go, I just ask God, What are you doing here? and then watch to see what happens.” I saw incredible things. I’m not sure how I lost that habit, but I want back in. I want to see. So my eyes are open, as are my friends’. We email each other every night to report on what we’ve witnessed (because the Bible is pretty clear that when you witness a miracle, you’re supposed to tell others – that they multiply that way).
But how do I keep expecting miracles when faced with the miracles that didn’t happen? This is the challenge of faith. It’s accepting that I don’t understand everything that happens. I don’t get to see the long-term plan. I get to be part of God’s Kingdom coming to earth, if I want to. But I have to be willing to live in some tension. It’s a life where each time the draggy demons of the world say, “Yes but God didn’t do X, why would He do Y?” I say, “What does that have to do with anything?” (followed by, “Leave now, in Jesus’ name.”) It’s living in a way that what God is doing is more impressive and exciting to me than the crap swirl. It’s remembering the astounding ways God has come through, surprised me, exceeded my expectations. The ways He has pulled happy endings out of impossible situations for almost everyone I know, sometimes after years of unrelenting swirl. It’s the way, as I look back on my life, things tend to make sense. And it’s knowing that I’m not alone in this quest. Others are living this way, too (like both of the blog friends I link to above, and my small group, and so many others), allowing God to show us His view of these things that happen.
Jesus knows what He is doing. I trust him. It requires a bit of balance and a lot of help, but it’s more than worth the effort.
I’ll close with another Bill Johnson quote that is helping me:
“I don’t care how dark something is, dark is never superior to light. Never be impressed with darkness. Never, never, never. Because if you are impressed with darkness, you live in reaction to the devil. He is not worthy of that attention. Live in response to God. Live in response to what God has said, to what His heart is like, what His Word declares. Live in response to God.“