Is this fair enough for you?

I don’t know a lot about what makes life fair, but that subject has been on my mind a lot this past month. I have sat comparing the condition of one friend against another, one’s range of blessings versus others’ depth of pain. I ask indignantly, Why do some lives seem bombarded by suffering so intensely, while others appear to steadfastly experience abundance in ways that the other could never imagine?

These are questions I don’t have the answers to; this is the sum of a matter too deep for negligible experience to dispel. Yet, my discomfort with these mysteries is a chance to be humbled by a God that need not explain to me His every nuance.

Not that God is at fault for things like world hunger, and extreme personal suffering, but He does absolutely rule over these things, and often not in ways that I can understand.

I want simple responses to big questions. I come to God with the hope that He will make the problems that I see small enough for me to stand above, rather than stretching my faith to recognize that He is standing above everything that I do not.

I utter complaints about the world around me, believing He’ll get behind my judgments on the obvious disorder around me, and set the world straight. Yet, rather than blighting the fruits of error that I can’t stand, He points out the great, big root of it so mercilessly growing up and out of my own heart — so long it wraps around the vital organ, so strong it cripples a beat that I trust as the standard of every other rhythm.

Clearly I’m a wreck, and not as proficient at judging the world around me as I thought. Instead of sticking to what I think I know, I have to stand on faith — relying upon Him who sets me right, and not on me, who only gets in His way.

For, it is when I commit myself to trusting Him who makes both my faith and vision sure, I find that my heart is set to the beat of His own heart. And the tempo of Him I love more than life rising from the deepest places of my soul, I recognize that if He resolved this fairness issue according to my heart, I would face a more bitter reality: I would be completely deprived of knowing Him in this rare way because I am not perfect.

When I Let the Rodents In, He Leaves

Jesus called me to a walk today. I rose up and moved with Him, until we came to a place I know so well. He showed me the playground of my heart, and asked me what were these idols He found there.

Welcomed in to fill the gaps His presence seemed to leave, my hope to make sure all was right — that I did not suffer from the holes of emptiness that He seemed intent on leaving bare.

Fearing that if I were not careful, I might fall into one, I went ahead and pledged them to worthy tenants. I asked only that they stay and keep my grounds level, never leaving, never forsaking the duty I had given to them.

These rodents were my support, their presence made me feel at ease — with them there I could relax. Yet, with them always near, I became always busy. They did more to hold my attention than serve the purpose so important to me.

But, so engaged had I become with their winsome personalities that I forgot; I did not hold their ways against them, but rejoiced that I had found friends to fill my hours here, allies who sought me out, and were never far off.

I counted each one as an individual that enriched my life, a mini-savior of my cause. That cause was loneliness, and how they gladly took it up! They hoisted my banner, and encouraged me to hold mine even higher. They did not fill my holes, but they promised with their help they would disappear. I would not be a cast-out, I would not live with less, I deserved more out of life — I would have it all.

That’s what my pride and self-pitying said. It accepted the voice I lent it, and gladly drowned out the whispers from behind that spoke the truth I could not accept. I would not be contradicted, every challenge I would win, even if it meant an unconcerned good-bye to my first and only real Playmate.

If He did not like the atmosphere, then He could leave. There was plenty of fun to be had without Him — the rest of us would make sure of that.

The funny thing, which actually took me a while to notice, was that when my First-Mate left, He took part of me with Him. At first I thought this would still be all right; after all, I had my rodo-pals in tow.

But, then even that began to change. They didn’t seem so happy or concerned with me as they once were. In fact, one particularly quiet morning I discovered them in the most treasonous act imaginable: Not only were they disregarding the holes that bothered me so much, they were making new ones.

I had never noticed their teeth were so violent, not their imaginations so devious. What would I do with them?

I thought to protest and gain their apologies, but they worked on. Again, I tried to command their attention, and give them a firm talking-to, but their ears were too consumed with the sound of their own chewing, to mind anything that I might say. As a last resort, I ran up and kicked one of them, which turned out to be too big to mind the irritation. Moving to the next, I gave him two assaults for good measure, and the sharp-toothed sneer he sent back frightened me so, I screamed and scampered off as quickly as I could through the growing maze of bodies which I now recognized as sickeningly repulsive.

Alone, and now afraid, the truth seemed so ostentation when it sneaked up on me. Interrupting my reverie as I sat hugging my knees and wishing I could somehow return to what I once imagined too dull and unsatisfying, he cowed me:

“What were you thinking? How could you be so blind: missing the teeth, the indifference to your wishes, the sheer number of these little monsters — all these evidences of imminent danger and vicious conquest you would so insolently ignore? Was it worth it? Huh?”

I hated the voice, but I could not run from it — everything he asked begged answers of my shameful actions, and silenced my now remorseful voice.

What was I to do, where could I go?

And as if in answer, I heard His footsteps — the ones that pounded after me in a game of chase, and marched beside me in a walk about the park — I recognized the weight and tempo of a stride that now made me uneasy rather than unafraid. Once having Him at my side had given me confidence, now it put me on edge.

What would He have to say to me — the truth I expected to hear, but then what? What would He demand, what could I expect?

Then His sudden stillness made me voluntarily lift my head — though it seemed later, as if He had been the One to raise my chin. I saw Him before me with outstretched arms that silently called a name I thought He had long ago abandoned. Home was closer than I thought.

With my permission He spanked the rat pack, and reclaimed His territory — the place where I am safe enough to play, with holes that didn’t go so deep as they once had. And He tells me that with time, He will fill them more, as I content myself with the knowledge that He is tending them. In the meantime He teaches me to play amidst them, since He holds onto me in everything we do — whether I should fly in the air above Him, or fall in the ground beneath Him.

So, peace reigns in my playground again — my Mate and I are close once more, yes, closer than we were.

The Price of Intimacy

I told the Lord I wanted intimacy with Him — intimacy that far exceeded anything I would know with anyone beside Him. I wanted to know the depths of His love that may only be discovered when one puts her hand in God’s, giving Him permission to take her wherever He wants. I longed to experience Him in everyday life, and know more of what life really is — to grow and blossom according to influences that were more than what I could arrange on my own.

I told God that I wanted His best, and I was willing to take His way to get there; I just wanted Him, and to know by experience that He was more than enough for me — far better than any other thing. I saw my need to go beyond trusting God when I was sure everything He did made sense, and I could be an expert on His activities. I believed that love for Him needed to grow out of the sacrifice of what was most precious to me: I prayed that if it be in the loss of all things, I would be certain to have gained Christ.

The reality that we will face trials, temptations and various forms of torture, focused me on Him. I wanted all my struggles to count for something: If I be in pain let it be for Him; if I should wrestle with sin and evil and doing good, let it be a fight that brought me closer to my Savior, one that made my bitter tears sweet and my broken heart secure.

Let me see all I shall of grief and joy, but let it be at Your side. I do not want pleasure that steers me farther from you, when I have so much closer I need to get. May I not be deceived by joy that springs from wells that I have dug, unconscious of the well of never-ending joy waiting for me in You.

Prayers only He could answer, only He knows how. The reply has not come as I expected. I requested the reward without knowledge of the path to get there. I knew I wanted God, but I didn’t know how much competition all my other desires were creating, desires that would have to be diminished for Him to be increased. My heart is only so big, and natural laws here apply. He must take over all, and I must surrender shares of all the real estate that’s currently in my name. I want Him to rule, I must offer Him the kingdom that I would rather keep to myself. After all, what other kingdom could I offer Him? My neighbor’s does not offer the parts of me He requests.

Surrendering my life to God puts me in a position of needing Him more than I would ever need Him otherwise. Unable to control, but forced to face, my circumstances creates the greatest opportunity to recognize God that this life on earth can support.

God is at work where my strength and rights are challenged. He knows that I need Him more than I need permission to clutch His rivals to my chest. He requires a higher cost of fellowship because the riches to be found there are the fruit of a covenant that divorces me from every threat to the bond between us.

His love is strong, but can’t be fully known until allowed to grow — and as it does, to reshape my life. I do not need to understand this, or expect to steadfastly support it at all times, but to trust that the God Who weaves my heart in love with His, knows me, and counts all my needs as nothing less than tickets granted me to explore His love and mercies deep.