The world is in disarray. Seeking, searching. Fear gnaws away, pulling at the confines of our minds and souls. Those whose hope is in God find themselves waning in confidence. Hope erodes slowly, allowing fear to control. In moments of distraction, with an urge to connect to the world around me, I read the blogs, messages, and statuses. I read stories of tragedy, sickness, crime, and hate. The cries for answers, the search for love, the yearning to make things right. It sometimes is too much. I read the constant offering of answers and solutions as though we are assuring ourselves we have some vague sense of control. As though, we will finally through this or that find the peace and love for which we so very much long.
It really is self fulfillment at it's core, and we all fall prey to it as we seek to satisfy the yearning in our heart for avoidance of pain and more happiness.
Walking that road is dangerous territory for one who already fights a battle with anxiety and fear. It feeds that monster inside that constantly tries to share lies that God being enough is just too hard and really too good to be true. It is the worst kind of traitor, luring me into ignoring the love He offers even when I know better. And, I find myself unable to keep up, unable to employ many of these things in my real world of living. Which, then, leaves me depressed and despondent.
Disconnecting myself from all forms of media is surely the answer, I tell myself. Yet, is avoidance really the answer?
I contribute to the online world through a blog of my own. Maybe I contribute to the noise. I have considered this often. Avoidance of this world and the terror that fills it, it's NOT the answer.
That still small voice inside of me screams "I am the answer." Fear has no place in the midst of perfect love. Be in the world, not of it. What does it mean to be "not of it"? I believe it means product of the world, a creation, a result of this world.
In transparency, the church often betrays me. It's own cries for solutions and answers add to the chaos of the noise. Their strategies of defense leave me skeptical and even a little perplexed. We have created solutions, strategies, and predictions many times derivative of this world. In other words, they are, more often than not, poor imitation of what Christ really offers.
They are unoriginal and uncreative. We speak as though they have been created and molded in response to and by scripture. Yet, if we were to take an honest look at them - they are molded in response to a world that is broken. And, much like the world, are a result of our own depravity - anger, resentment, bitterness, pain - all which have gone ignored and avoided.
Criticizing is not my aim. I just find it all still leaves me confused and disheartened. It leaves me feeling overwhelmed as though, these solutions to the predictions we create sound great, but what if I don't do it right? Or worse, what if I am dispassionate by what you say is the answer? What if, as great as all of the solutions to the worlds AND the church's problems seem - what if it is simply not enough?
If we get more people to do the right things, and yet their souls remain in trauma, what then? If we win them spiritually, yet they remain physically, relationally, emotionally disconnected and broken - what then? If we focus so much on the how that we forget the why - what then?
Isn't the gospel our answer? Don't we believe that God is in the process of redeeming all of mankind? And it is just that a process. When things are in process, there is rarely a defined solution. Just a series of steps, one after another. The result remains unknown. God is in process of restoring all of creation. Those who follow Him and those who do not. We are not in control of the result of that redemption and neither are we in control of another's process or journey.
God uses ALL of creation for this redemption process. And He uses all trauma, pain, chaos, loss, and more. He uses the one who bears fruit of relationship, and He uses the one who lives in stark contrast of His principles. He uses His followers and He uses those who despise Him.
If you follow Christ, you have to accept this. Read the Bible, read about the countless slanderers, traitors, manipulators, cheaters, murderers. All of them were part of the redeeming process and they continue to be. Why? Because He is in process of redeeming all creation. He is sovereign enough, majestic enough, great enough and most of all loving enough to be impartial in His work and plan. Good can come from all things because we serve a sovereign God who is moving and redeeming ALL things.
When I set aside the external that is outside of my control and invite Him to go deeply inward, He reveals my hidden rebellion. He sifts through the layers and mess and I discover my anger and disappointment in Him, in people, or even myself. Most of all, he reveals that I have strayed. My heart which was once His home has become closed off and boarded up.
Yet when I welcome him back in, back into my mess and pain, he is compassionately waiting. He redeems, restores, renews. He heals the broken places and he softens the rough edges - all of the sudden I am aware of what is right. All of the sudden, I know the answer. I hear His voice, I respond in confidence. I have courage in the face of fear. All of the sudden, the well meaning thoughts, solutions, and strategies no longer cause strain. They are put in their rightful place.
When I consider this, I am reminded of at least one answer that I have control over...stay connected to the vine (John 15). Embrace the painful pruning process. He, Christ who lives in me, He will empower me to live. He will empower me to operate, not out of fear, but out of love. He will direct me and counsel me.
Henry Nouwen says it like this, "The farther I run away from the place where God dwells, the less I am able to hear that voice that calls me the Beloved, and the less I hear that voice, the more entangled I become in the manipulation and power games of this world".
Jesus said, "Abide in me, and I will abide in you."
Solutions, plans, predictions - they have value - but only in light of the truth of His Word and the reality of His work IN our lives. Because, in the end, everything will fail without being rooted in Him.
God, this is our world. Give us the grace to be in it, not a product of it.