Today has been another one of those pressurized days in a long series of difficult days, weeks and months. I don’t mean to be dismal, but honest. The Christian life can be tough at times; indeed, for much of the time it can feel like it is tough (at least for us) all the time. I don’t know why that is. Don’t be shocked; I have heard and come to agree with the well-aired biblical doctrines of sin and suffering. These are not foreign to me. They are just…not enough for me.
I say this not in an attempt to challenge any of the great tenants of this faith we’ve found in Christ, but to get it out of the textbooks-on-life that I get tired of reading, and out into my own nonsensical reality. I say nonsensical because the reality I am (and have been) most closely acquainted with is not scripted at all in the way I think would work best–and being indirectly forced to accept this is quite painful.
Where is God going with this lesson, this trial, this purpose? At the moment I can see nothing changing–nothing but a nicely streamlined struggle for days without number. What do I do with this? What is this all about, Lord? Don’t You care; don’t You notice how difficult all of this is for me to take? Can’t I get out of this cycle of misery at some point? When are you going to call in the credits for this undesirable drama?
I wish I had more answers: maybe then all of this would be easier. But is that all I want, something–anything–as long as it be easier? Is that my lonely criterion for life? That’s okay, God. I understand You have some pretty good ideas for my life but, quite frankly, they’re just too magnificent; I just want You to lay-off and just make sure nothing questionable or unpleasant touches me while I’m here on earth.
While I’m here on earth. Why are the particulars of what goes “down” while I’m outside of paradise so important to me? Why is the promise of heaven not enough of an excuse for me to relax and receive whatever makes it into the details of my present pre-paradise habitat?
Acceptance. I think that is the center of the contest here. You may be wondering why I have not chosen to highlight the ever-popular themes of faith, trust or humility–let me be clear: All three of these virtues are both weighty and absolutely foundational to our life in Christ going forward, yet a crucial thing must be understood about them. Each one of them must be given a firm and consistent direction that will determine the kind of fruit they are able to produce in our lives.
What I must ask you now–what I have recently found it necessary to ask of myself–is what direction have I been giving to my faith, my trust, and (the antagonist of pride) my humility? More simply put, this question might look like: to what am I leading my vision, confidence and self-abasement? What idea do I have within me of the destination my exercise of these spiritual qualities should get me?
This self-evaluation might appear to be a little too in-depth at first glance, but few of us could deny at the least its potential for offering insight after we have had a frustratingly lengthy period of trying to make our beliefs or practices “work for us” properly.
For, the truth is that we all are in some form putting the actions and attributes of faith, trust and humility to work in our daily lives. For example, we could not live a day without faith. It requires faith to believe that tomorrow will be a better day than today, that I will not collapse under my present burdens if I don’t give up, that I can indeed grow as a person beyond who and what I am in my worst moment. In the same way, it takes trust to function in practically every situation of our lives. We could not leave our houses if we did not trust our grasp of power and intelligence were enough to enable us to return when we desired. If we distrusted animals, we would not adopt a pet or visit anyone who had one. And when we fail to trust the present-ability of our true character, we turn it in for a more acceptable-appearing fake expression of ourselves. Humility is no different–because we all believe it is important to curb our pride (or its expression) to some degree, even if it is only for preserving our image before ourselves and those we respect–we employ it; refusing uninhibited freedom for the sake of unrelenting satisfaction somewhere else.
But, to get back to our main question, where are these things getting you? Let me present to you the two possibilities before us. Faith and her companions are either getting us closer to God or farther away. Faith is not just a spiritual concept, but the outflow of naturally worship-dependent creatures. We can choose to put our faith in the fact that we can manipulate our situations, and the God who is sovereign over them, to get what we want for ourselves, or we can (less popularly) choose to put our faith in the fact that God will give us what we need regardless of what He does in the process.
I have found that there can seem to be a middle-ground at times that we find it difficult to judge whether we are functioning solely in a particular sphere. In the past week I have looked at myself, confident that I am trying to live in light of God’s sovereignty and not my own, but questioning whether I would ever actually reach the next degree of success here.
There seems to be a chasm over which we must leap from insisting on our own sovereignty and His. The power we have to leap comes in the form of (you guessed it!) faith, trust and humility. Yet, what happens when it seems we are stuck somewhere in midair? We left the ground in the first place, but now we are sinking somewhere in between that and the coveted second place?
That is where I felt I was for sometime–falling and confused as to why I had never made it to the other side. What was I missing? Well, I found that there is a specific step to landing–apparently it is separate, or in addition to, our original leaping-move–and sometimes some of us fail, for a time, to complete this. The move? Accepting the terms of God’s sovereignty in our present circumstance.
We do not seek out God’s sovereignty for how it will make our position more appealing, we accept our position that we might not fail to fully immerse ourselves in His sovereignty.