My heart is wrecked. For a thousand reasons. I've been wrestling and chewing on it, trying to find the thread to tie it all together and somehow make peace.
The past many weeks have been full of heartache for so many people we love. Stories surface by the day it seems, further evidence of our existence in a broken world. Wives leaving devoted husbands and children, mothers losing babies, families knocked to the ground with ravaging diagnoses, husbands betraying loving wives, families left stunned and broken by people they trusted with their lives... I can barely wrap my mind around the sheer volume of tragedy. Some days it is all too much to bear.
And then yesterday my dear friend Deb said this:
"...have I just accepted the theology of Christianity or have I embraced the person of Christ? Theology will produce the fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Embracing Christ is partaking of the Tree of Life. Sure, good theology will guide me, but where's the life-giving, wild adventure of relationship with Christ in that?"
Provoking. I had to chew on it for a while. Fast forward a few hours.
I happened upon this story. (Be warned, it's incredibly graphic and details accounts of sexual abuse and molestation. Tread with caution or simply take my word for it.)
And I broke. After all of the mounting tragedy and hurt and stories of brokeness, it left me reeling. I sobbed, heartbroken any child should endure such horror, and just when I was on the verge of composing myself, this woman who had walked thru the kind of unspeakable horror most of us can't even begin to conceive, said in the the most forgiving, grace-filled, loving, Jesus-like, downright beautiful tone:
"...it's a broken world with broken people - that's why He came isn't it? I'm pretty sure He didn't save us so that we could be comfortable - I think He's more interested in making our hearts look like His."
And I sobbed again.
Here's the thing I'm finding again and again, the thing I'm contending with, wrestling with, examining and re-examining only to find it more true than the time before:
Those who trust God most, are those who know Him best.
Really, truly, rich and beautifully, they know Him. Free fall into nothing without hesitation, because they trust Him. Fear nothing, love all, fight for justice and truth like they've nothing to lose because likely they already have, and found Him waiting. They know He is good, simply because He is nothing else. Experienced the worst the world has to offer and proclaim His goodness still because they know He wasn't in the darkness, but rather the light that expelled it.
Those who trust Him most have stared death in the face, nose to nose, vile breath hot against their skin and realized... it holds no power.
In the light of Christ, we finally fear nothing, and thus gain everything.
It isn't about theology. It's one solitary thing: embracing the person of Christ. The real, living, always fighting for us person of Jesus. He is all. There is nothing else to understand.
There are days of course when it all feels too much to bear, the brokenness of this life and earth still awaiting restoration and redemption. And on those days I settle my heart with this truth:
"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--meditate on such things." Philippians 4:8
I let myself get lost in dimples and ladybugs, chunky toddler thighs, new rosebuds on my bushes, a cup of tea, ripening blueberries, serene moments at the lake. All good. All lovely. All the true essence of who He is, Beauty.
And on other days, when I'm able, I trudge into the darkness with boldness and ask Him to meet me there, or better yet, go with me. The phone call to hear the details of the heartbreak, the email to say I'm here, you aren't alone, the hard conversation about doing what's right even when we can barely stomach the idea, the space to cry, to lament, to watch them pound fists against the table and say I'm angry. Or I hate them. Or I don't feel like living today. It's doing the research about human trafficking, homelessness, poverty. Looking at faces, into eyes, considering for 20 seconds what it might be like to walk in their shoes and what I can practically do today to help, even if it's as simple as a sincere prayer. (That alone could change the world if we took the moment to do it.)
It isn't pretty, but it's real. And as Believers in Christ it's not only our duty and calling to rush into the darkness where the hurting lie broken, but even moreso to want to. I admit I don't always want to. I'd rather take pictures of sailboats, bake cookies, read stories to my girl, plan adventures. And those things are all to be celebrated as well, the goodness and beauty of the crazy abundant life we find in knowing Jesus. The balance for me is learning not to straddle the line with one foot in each reality from time to time, but rather live fully present in both, simultaneously. It isn't either/or.
That is embracing the person of Christ. That is the life-giving, wild adventure Deb spoke of: Experiencing the incredible beauty and goodness of knowing Him, and sharing it at every opportunity.
Now we're onto something... and it has absolutely nothing to do with theology. Thank God.