I’ve been reflecting a lot over the past week, and I’d like to talk about some of the things I’ve realized. Most of it has become knitted together in the last couple days.
Does anyone else ever get the feeling like, “There is no way I’m meant to inherit such a good thing” when they look at what God has done in their life? I know that for most people it is a stretch to give God credit for even tough things, or to be content in what he has done. But I’m talking about a different emotion entirely. It isn’t “I’m not ready for this”, but it’s “There is no WAY I deserve this”. I want to talk about that feeling. Because that feeling is true.
None of us deserves much of anything. The cut and dry explanations for the ways we live our lives can be whittled down into very subtle “explanations”, which are just words on a feeling, given intuition and the process of trying to articulate how the Holy Spirit moves us, if and only if we are listening. These explanations are like what happens when you take a cultural expression out of context: they can only be approximated. The only difference is that this misunderstanding is common to mankind. It derives from imperfection found in the lack of grace.
Having been given that grace, sometimes I feel like God delivers more than I expect. Generally what he gives is good, and by the grace of God, I’m often able to see that in the moment. I don’t know why, but it wasn’t my choice either.
We are each given different gifts, but it becomes somewhat dicey once it becomes apparent that you have become especially blessed. That sentence alone sounds blasphemous, but bear with me. We are all loved the same. From what I have seen, very few people put exactly how or why they are loved in words, mostly because God loves us all because he feels like it and no other good reason. Having a calling isn’t your justification, just as works aren’t justification. Faith makes receiving the gift of grace possible through Christ, but it isn’t purpose. Purpose comes in calling, and the Holy Spirit is in charge of that.
Dang, that is a lot of jargon, but it makes sense with time. Sometimes it feels like living with an excess of gratitude is even more dangerous than living a life under-grateful or un-grateful, from my narrow perspective. I know that a blessing is a blessing, and I should just take God at his word. But when I make it overly complicated and try to explain something that I’m just not ever going to get (because it’s free), I just get confused. The same sentiment that Solomon only echoed, first coined in the Holy Spirit, was given in Ecclesiastes; and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Eccl. 12:7). If something is a gift, then clearly it is free. And as a member of the human race that seems to be on the receiving end of more than my fair share of grace, free is not something I understand.
Given how God made us in his image and sin broke us, learning about who God is can be almost as simple as learning about who we aren’t. I’m not perfect. I’m happy, but I still get frustrated. My love isn’t enough for even myself, let alone others, let alone the entire rest of the human race since before time was even conceived. I don’t have the power to speak anything to life, let alone support myself when I’m having a particularly hard day. It’s good to be weak. It can be a blessing.
Why do we over complicate blessings? There is nothing so stupid. Like Solomon seemed to echo, there is nothing more frustrating than someone who seems to have everything, but enjoys nothing. The enjoyment is optional, it seems. By that logic, shouldn’t we all be just as equally able to recognize how blessed we are? As of yet, I have just not seen that to be the case.
Thanksgiving is a gift, and is just one form of how humans come to know God. I know that 1 Peter 4:10 says Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms (NIV). Thus, we are meant to use all gifts we receive for the purpose of serving one another.
If you have been given a thankful spirit and you don’t praise, what is the purpose of having received that gift? The purpose of getting a gift is that we would use them. It’s especially funny, because the only thing you have to do to be grateful is to give God credit. You don’t have to be happy about his decisions. You don’t have to be super thrilled to follow in the direction he takes you. But thanksgiving as a whole isn’t about having reality be perfect, it’s about giving praise for to the one who allows for our imperfection in the first place.
As the body of Christ, we really don’t have to understand each other’s gifts all that well, but it certainly helps. It helps to be a good steward of what we are given. It helps to have a functional understanding of how enormously God can show up in our lives, not just for us, but for hope in general. It helps to have peace. It helps to know God.
We don’t have to understand all that God does to observe how he does it, and know that it is good. We don’t have to have explanations. I think that occasionally, when inspired by convictions for or against past choices, it certainly helps. But if life was meant to be based merely on our own understanding, there would be no needs: not for one another and certainly not for God.
If there is no reason for humans to need one another, than why exactly are we alive? Creation and multiplication couldn’t properly happen. There would be no greater magnetism that draws us to one another. There would be no need for love if humans didn’t need love, because let’s get real: God has all he needs already. He just wants to share. The essence of who God is is loving so much that you would give literally everything (aka part of your self, Jesus Christ) in order to do just that. For humans that are infinitely not going to get it. Just because.
I wouldn’t have room for God to keep working in my life if I kept trying to justify what he does. As of today, I just don’t get it. If my life is meant to be striving after the wind, we’ve already topped out. I’m bored with that. I need to keep going, and it’s like we’ve crossed into this twilight zone where the praise has officially gotten greater than my ability to know why the heck it’s still around. Let that be a blessing. It already is.
To think that God could have loved all of Creation and me also so much that he continuously gave and gave and gave and then freaking resurrected himself is a thought that is so radically divine that I don’t know who you could ascribe it to, except for the mind of God himself. I suppose if you don’t acknowledge your own weakness, you’ll be blind to getting it. But just think of the living, breathing promise in that: the gift of eternal life. You’d have to be either an idiot or really clueless to give that up, when it’s been freely offered. I know it’s not that simple, but why can’t it be?
God’s love isn’t like human friendship, or romantic love. It never gets tired. Knowing parts of his character is like falling in love, but greater. I’m grateful for free will, because it provides the reason for grace in the first place, by default. It provides the chance for epic failure, but by having that dichotomy between black and white, it also provides the means for salvation. God’s love isn’t fair, and it isn’t all that frilly, and it’s really just a lot bigger than any of us can get in a given time frame (or ever, for the time being), but that is okay. If it’s meant to be done, it will be. If it happens at all, it is his.
I don’t need to go on and on about what kind of God God is, because the quickest way is to just know him. Christianity isn’t what it is falsely advertised to be. The true character of Christ is something that really none of us truly get.
I’m grateful for what I have, even when I don’t get it, and I feel like I should. There are limits on our understanding. And thank God, because we can need that way.