Just got home from church, and was strengthened by the message today (which is the last in a series on emotions, and will be posted here as video later today http://findvelocity.org/sermons/omg-emoji/).
The central portion of our sermon began in Mark 6:30, with Jesus feeding the 5,000 men. I had never noticed that the Apostles were already hungry and tired by the time they were asked to give away their food. Our Pastor used imagery about emoticons and emotions when texting to talk about how God wants to “burst our bubbles”, namely, bubbles of comfort, certainty, and calculation. This message is coming at basically the perfect time as I’ve been thinking about the idea of comfort and not leaving my hometown, and how certainty by insisting in my own way and calculating exactly what I need to get there could actually be why God is shaking things up right now (for the future). So often, whether it’s thinking about dating, or thinking about school, or thinking about friendships, I love to analyze what I think must be done or would yield a better solution. In reality, maybe if I focused on giving more to God and making fewer plans, I’d have a lot more to offer others.
Our Pastor made the point that God purposefully tests us so that we can check our interests and draw closer to him. If not for challenges to what we think we know, we’d be resting in a state of complacency basically indefinitely, and have no room for faith. Truly, life would be a lot easier if we never had to step outside our comfort zones or challenge ourselves or work to be equipped for what is coming. I look at how I have worked in college, and although some of my work has been good, I don’t often push myself to the limits of my abilities, or actively and continuously look for places that would drastically challenge what I know. Some risks I will take, but rarely any that are particularly outrageous. And while discipline is the upside to playing it safe, what if there is more that I’m missing?
We make so many plans that never come to fruition, and it would legitimately be wiser to learn to trust God more in the face of uncertainty rather than making just another plan. We push off what we think we don’t need, only to find that it would have been better for us in the first place. It’s not good to continuously re-create the wheel, but what if the issue is that we need no stumbling block of having things well-planned out in the first place? Doesn’t that signify at least a partial breach in trust?
I think the need to make God smaller and easier to digest is actually what leads to a lot of our human striving, and the ways we make Jesus specifically shaped to one subculture alone. If what he asks isn’t comfortable, it isn’t easy, it isn’t predictable, how many of us actually want to follow that God? If we can legitimize Jesus as a coffee drinking Jesus that loves you and would never do anything to challenge the way you’re living, how exactly is that in line with how he continually challenged the status quo? Faith is so legitimately hard. I don’t think making God any smaller helps that.
The fact of the matter is that when Christ gave himself, he consumed death on our behalf so that we could have the benefit of trusting in him. Like the cup of bitter wine Christ was offered on the cross and prayed three times not to drink, and like the cup of the blood of the Saints held by Babylon in Revelation, Christ had to first endure all that we complain about enduring, and truly have never experienced. He died so that at least we’d have some company, and by his blood he sanctifies us steadily if we remain in the faith by consuming the unrighteousness he first tasted for us as we learn to live. The sin in your life can and will be steadily removed by Jesus if you trust in him, and yet, we focus on how it’s hard rather than realizing what we’re missing (by being blessed). Instead of comparing our lives to life without Christ, we compare our lives to Heaven that hasn’t come yet, trying to garner enough evidence that God is unfaithful while we doubt instead of running to him for healing. To a certain extent having a balanced and disciplined life isn’t a bad thing, but the fruits of any grace should be used for the continuous strengthening of the gospel, and if we are in a place where we can only buy into ourselves, we steadily become more cut off because the sense of urgency in salvation is removed from us. If God is going to do his work regardless, why do we need to help? And if we forget who he is in a fight to establish ourselves, we’ve forgotten the point in the first place of being blessed by being allowed to serve him. Back to step one.
As of today, I don’t have much certainly for the future except for what I know of God. I know that he is capable, and if it weren’t for him being capable, so long. Even if I embrace risk more gradually over time, opening my heart back up to the potential in the time I have left this year as a senior in college is probably a better choice than trying to cherish it alone. There is probably work to do that I haven’t even noticed yet, and if we’re being honest, you can still have grace and a sense of rest even in times where you give more away. Remaining open to the ways God can use me is probably wiser than lazily waiting for him to deliver solutions I haven’t been actively seeking. And at the end of the day, this isn’t about me. So be it.
Starting now, I’m going to be praying for an understanding of what having the rest of God looks like as balanced with the desire to be serving. I think a lot of what scares me about reaching outside of what I know of comfort is that being able to rest like this has been the exception in my life and not the rule. It’s funny that preferring the vanity in comfort could come so naturally, but this is what it means to be human. What I am afraid of is the sense of un-health and constantly being depleted that I see around me. At the same time, given that all things are a gift, I am wrong not to put my confidence in God, who defines peace and rest far beyond our situations. If he can bring peace to Paul who was dying in prison, he can certainly influence how we see doubt as creating more room for uncertainty, and thus, faith. If I have everything figured out, then I really don’t need God. But I do. He’s my best thing.
I am also going to be praying for the death of me focusing on making plans. Although that seems stupid as a person who should be trying to line up a job as she’s graduating, this isn’t my first rodeo and I know that God will rise to meet me in my situation. Having faith in a God that transcends plans is a better choice than trying to put everything on myself (because I will fail, and I have). Instead of thinking of criteria or myself so much, I should refocus on what gives life to others and how to use my gifts for God’s kingdom mission, and inevitably he will find me there. To be honest, that sounds like a better solution than worrying and striving to begin with.
So this is where I am at; just trying to live my faith out. It will be enough and it will be holy through Christ, because holiness will not come from me. I know that he provides, and is enough. Now is the time to focus on what I can do to be serving God rather than freaking out that he’s not moving fast enough.