The evil we all need to experience for ourselves

Do any of us need to see evil? It may exist in our world, but do we really have to experience it and learn what it feels like? Do we have to confront how powerless we are before it?

I have asked myself these kind of question so many times. The inference has been Why, God? What do You think You’re doing with me? Where are You, and why do You think it’s okay to let me know suffering so well? I thought the point of walking with You was for me to experience joy? 

I don’t know all the reasons why God does what He does and allows what He allows. Suffering will always be in large part a mystery for us while we’re on earth. But I believe once we are in heaven we will see things wholly as He sees them. We will applaud His purposes and we will appreciate the way He poured His holiness into us even while we were on earth. We will exalt the Lord our God because we will know Him and have need of nothing else.

I pray that knowing what is ahead of us will affect us today. I pray that hope might be so firmly implanted in us that we might live like there is a reality that goes far deeper than suffering. As we long for the redemption of our bodies, may we learn to love the Redeemer of them all the more!

Lord, let me arrange the favors I get!

You don’t know what You’re doing and I could get this job done better than You–at least it will be the way I want it! If this is your heart today–as it has been mine times without number–please do not willingly stay here. Turn to Him who alone can turn our hearts back to Himself. Whenever we want to run our lives we are intent on dismissing what is too great a mystery to be seen in a single moment, or even in a succession of single moments. We need to reach out to Him for eyes of faith; eyes that do not fail when the favors we desire don’t come because His favors have overtaken and far surpassed them in His love.

The meaningless mystery of unexplored life

Just how balanced are the two?

This weekend I spent some time exploring the philosophical tenants of Yin Yang. Now, I won’t pretend here, I did find it more than a little disconcerting. If you are unfamiliar with this worldview, let me share with you some of what I read (I have chosen to include a lengthier portion of the Wikipedia article so that you may be as informed as is immediately possible):

the concept of yin yang…normally referred to in the West as (yin and yang) is used to describe how polar or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn. Opposites thus only exist in relation to each other

Yin yang are complementary opposites that interact within a greater whole, as part of a dynamic system. Everything has both yin and yang aspects, but either of these aspects may manifest more strongly in particular objects, and may ebb or flow over time…

There is a perception (especially in the West) that yin and yang correspond to evil and good. However, Taoist philosophy generally discounts good/bad distinctions and other dichotomous moral judgments, in preference to the idea of balance. Confucianism (most notably the philosophy of Dong Zhongshu, c. the 2nd century BCE) did attach a moral dimension to the idea of yin and yang, but the modern sense of the term largely stems from Buddhist adaptations of Taoist philosophy.[2]

In Taoist philosophy, ying and yang (☯) arise together from an initial quiescence or emptiness (wuji, sometimes symbolized by an empty circle), and continue moving in tandem until quiescence is reached again. For instance, dropping a stone in a calm pool of water will simultaneously raise waves and lower troughs between them, and this alternation of high and low points in the water will radiate outward until the movement dissipates and the pool is calm once more. Yin and yang thus are always opposite and equal qualities. Further, whenever one quality reaches its peak, it will naturally begin to transform into the opposite quality: for example, grain that reaches its full height in summer (fully yang) will produce seeds and die back in winter (fully yin) in an endless cycle.

It is impossible to talk about yin or yang without some reference to the opposite, since yin and yang are bound together as parts of a mutual whole (i.e. you cannot have the back of a hand without the front). A way to illustrate this idea is to postulate the notion of a race with only men or only women; this race would disappear in a single generation. Yet, men and women together create new generations that allow the race they mutually create (and mutually come from) to survive. The interaction of the two gives birth to things. Yin and yang transform each other: like an undertow in the ocean, every advance is complemented by a retreat, and every rise transforms into a fall. Thus, a seed will sprout from the earth and grow upwards towards the sky – an intrinsically yang movement. Then, when it reaches its full potential height, it will fall. (emphasis mine; material cited: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yin_and_yang)

As interesting and plausible as any of this may seem, it does not agree with the witness our Creator has given us of this world we dissect. This theory is surely a comfort for those of us who have no frame of reference for why evil exists and how we are subject to it. So long as we are in confusion we will seek for ways to simplify. What gore threatens us we will subjectively redefine. Without the keys to engaging these mysteries we will consistently manifest fictitious realities that we can approach with confidence.

The problem with each of these approaches is that they never free us to fully investigate life. Ignoring the Cause of things forces us to covering up mystery does not make it less of a reality, it just reinforces our fear of the truth. There is no question the truth is unnerving and sometimes exactly what we don’t want to hear, but it can never be said to bind us. Truth leads to more truth, freedom to more freedom, while lies and half truths keep us bound in a specific pattern that we might not disturb the whole.

We were meant to be free and unfettered. Although some will say that God is the Only One who can keep us from such an existence, quite the opposite is true. In fact, without God the idea of someone having any freedom at all is a myth.

Then what is the truth and how does it free us…

and how does it contain God all at the same time?

The truth tells us that we are broken,

that this world is to hard and evil for us,

but even though we are part

of the problem,

we discover

freedom

for

the first time

in knowing

we don’t have to

stay here.

Forever God —

who is good and

Oh, so full,

full of mercy —

is reaching out to us;

He wants to calm our fears

to bring to us healing help

known to us

only when

the residence of His presence

claims our hearts today.

He will hold nothing of

peace and grace

back from us,

so long as we

open our souls

up to Him —

our Generous Father…

God.

Romance sustained on a shoe-string

In the beginning there was mystery and romance and plenty to fill my thoughts and hold my interest. Any trial can present intrigue to a person who would like to grow and sees the spiritual value to be gained. Whether it is large or small doesn’t matter; you could face the trouble every week, or day-in-and-day-out, yet learn to revel in the gifts God has for you there — even if your only comfort is a bit of His presence to book end each of your weighty days.

But, there comes a point, as with anything when your own personal strength gives out. You didn’t ask it to, it just did. You enthusiasm runs off to revive underground until you come out of this lonesome wilderness. And your spirit begins to shows the wear and tear of life in the desert. This is not your home and it is often unpleasant. You now that the Lord has more for you, but “when, O Lord?” is you cry of despair.

I am living at this point right now. I feel as if I have sucked the bones of romance till my death have hurt enough to stop. I want to quit and allow myself to forget that it exists, and sink into disgust at what God has chosen for me in this window of time. I want to relax, to lower myself to the lowest level of expectation. I don’t want to put all my efforts toward a cause I wish I no longer had to fight.

I struggle to take every thought that seeks to defeat the purpose for my suffering, but I am weak and it would be easier to take down the ship than it would be to continue patching it up and hoping-against-hope that despite every new stormy gale, I will arrive with God at our destination.

I must admit that though the mystery is still there, it now seems cruel without the romance that once came packaged with it to my door. Living with mystery is more work now. It is faith on a shoe-string that’s about to break, rather than a steel girder that has passed every ship-yard test.

I don’t want to go where the shoe-string leads me. Faith is most truly faith in the dark, and just before the dawn when it waits with great anticipation for what it has never seen before. The thought is full of imagery — and pure romance, if I was still willing to see it — but by this time, I’m just not sure I have enough of that anticipation left to see me through.

I want more, but the wait is not over. I want redemption, but it only becomes real for me when I am looking for its evidence not in grand scale productions, but in the infinite number of daily opportunities for beauty from On High to be revealed. When I’m wrapped up in God, He renews my vision for another day and the dailies of my life can be seen for what they are little, unsolicited pieces of His puzzle falling silently into place before my eyes.

Yes, even on the lonely days, when I wake up already feeling in league with traitorous heart attitudes of bitterness and discontentment, a choice lies before me. I have the opportunity to make my day or ruin it. I could be like the woman in Proverbs 9:13 who is described as

brazen, empty-headed, frivolous

or I could be like the lady described in Proverbs 14:1 who for herself

builds a lovely home

and does not behave like the one who

comes along and tears it down brick by brick.

Both choices are open to me. And it is at times when I feel most akin to Mrs. Fool (or Madame Whore as the Message Bible calls her) that these life-giving words are most sobering. And for that moment, that is their power; to wake me up and insist that I climb back up on the Rock, even if I scrape my hands and make a bloody mess of my knees. It is worth it. It is essential. My house, no matter what, must stand.

So, for today I will rise up again and call my Lord blessed. I will live in gratitude for the gift He has given to me in the opportunity to be His every day, all day. I will come to Him and let Him be my Refuge and Strength. I will let myself remember and experience once more that nothing can compare with knowing and being loved by Him. And isn’t this the substance of the romance that I am looking for?