And Then What?

A kindergarten teacher was observing her classroom of children while they drew pictures. Occasionally, she would walk around the room to see each child’s work.

“What are you drawing?” she asked one little girl who was working diligently at her desk.

The girl replied, “I’m drawing God.”

The teacher paused and said, “But no one knows what God looks like.”

The little girl replied, “They will in a minute.”

God must think we’re kind of funny when we try to identify Him or his plans. Or figure out what the platypus is.

I remember several years ago that someone contemplated the vastness of the universe. Imagine, they pondered, that we live in a solar system that we barely know anything about. That solar system is part of a galaxy. In fact, it’s one of several galaxies. And the universe is all of the galaxies. So…you’d think that somewhere out – at the end of all of that – is…a wall. Right?

The question, then, is…What’s on the other side of the wall?

The “other side of the wall” is the stuff that I think God is all about. We have those things we can examine and may some day be able to identify, label, and categorize. But what about the stuff on the “other side of the wall”?

People had ideas of what Messiah would sound like, look like, act like.

Do you think they expected their deliverer to be raised in the home of a carpenter – or in the home of a soldier or politician?

Do you think they expected him to “slum it” with lepers, Samaritans and tax collectors – or with society’s elite?

Do you think they expected him to actually encourage his brothers and sisters to walk the extra mile for the army that oppressed them – or to overturn that same government, to begin an insurrection? 

Do you think they expected him to go to his crucifixion without a hearing or a single protest – or to defend himself and finally rise up to make his stand?

Do you think they expected him to come back to life after three days in the grave?

Now, that is the stuff God’s about! That mind-blowing, are-you-serious, how-is-that-even-possible stuff is absolutely what God is all about. 

The Hebrews knew the stories of God’s miracles and deliverance – the exodus from Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, manna from heaven, Sarah’s conception of Issac, crazy Noah and his ark, David’s unlikely defeat of Goliath. But even then, they were determined to fit God into a man-designed box. Just like we do today, they considered very human, very limited ways that Messiah would – or could – come to them.

But Messiah didn’t come in a box. He came in a womb.

baby jesus.jpg
“Immanuel…God With Us”

Now, that’s outside the box! But outside the box is exactly what we need because we’re not fighting a war that’s “inside the box.” The war is not about the possession of land or resources.

The battle is for our souls, for eternity.

lion reflected in sword

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)

And the battle?

But as it is written: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NIV)

Like nothing we’ve seen before or can possibly imagine with our five senses and limited imaginations.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, 
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord. 

As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)

But how unbelievable is it that God would come to us as a baby – vulnerable and dependent, yet so very embraceable.

God came down to be embraced. (And if that’s not love, I don’t know what is.)

So what has God got planned for us? When he makes a way where there seems to be no way, what will it look like? If it’s like nothing we’ve seen before, if it’s a new thing, it’s going to make the platypus appear logical and mundane. It will have colors and scents that we can’t imagine because we’ve never seen them or smelled them! It will be the stuff on the other side of the cosmic wall, and it will take our breath away and feel like home at the same time.

And I have a feeling that God is looking forward to seeing the look on our face when we see it.

IS IT JUST ME?

Isn’t it hard to be upbeat all the time? I don’t always feel a praise on the tip of my tongue when it’s been a really, really long, trying week! I mean, sometimes things are just plain hard and it seems like there’s no end in sight. If anything, that light at the end of the tunnel keeps getting further and further away. Or you suspect, as you’re standing on the tracks, that the light which seems to be growing larger is the light at the front of the train itself!

depression quote

I hope God’s not disappointed when I get weary of trying times. I don’t think he is. To the contrary, God gives us encouragement in such times:

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31)

loved you at your darkest

I don’t know about you, but I get really weary sometimes. I only decided to begin blogging (again) a few weeks ago, and already I feel tired. Not from writing; the writing has energized me and actually given me something good in my life to look forward to. I’ve always tried to be an encourager, but have most recently needed encouraging myself. Still, no matter how negative I may feel when I start a post, I find that I simply cannot empty my trashcan on someone else’s desk and walk away feeling satisfied.

In fact, I have a confession to make. The last few posts have started out as an invitation to a pity party. I’ve had a lot of discouragement lately. I read declarations here and there about how God is about to bring my trial to an end and how He’s about to bring me out of the wilderness into my promised land, and honestly they’re beginning to sound like fortune cookies that someone else was meant to get instead of me. I know my God is a God of “suddenlies” and abundant victories, but I just don’t feel it right now.

So I end up feeling like a bad Christian for being discouraged and disappointed and frustrated, you know?

What’s the solution, then? I suppose I have to rely on what I know and not on what I feel. It’s as simple as the first song I learned in Sunday School: “Jesus loves me. This I know, for the Bible tells me so.” And it does. The Bible is the longest love letter ever written. I don’t get it. I can’t fathom how God could keep loving someone who can be so unlovable sometimes. I don’t get how God can keep forgiving someone who is so often unforgiving, especially when He knows I’ll probably be right back asking forgiveness for the same thing in a couple of days.

But His Word doesn’t tell me to understand. It tells me to trust.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6) 

But even if I turn out to be the only person encouraged by what I write, then I guess I’ll continue to write. And that may well be the case! (You’re going to love this one!) Yesterday followed one of the worst days I’ve had in years. (Not the worst, but right up there in the Top 10.) It happens that a friend of mine put me in contact with a friend of his, who was in the process of reading my blog to offer me some feedback. He found a post from my first attempt at blogging over seven years ago – which also happened to chronicle one of the lowest points in my life (Also in the Top 10). He proceeded to tell me I was on the right track with it.

I didn’t want to be told I was on the right track. I wanted to be at home, in my bed, eating worms – alone! – while I slowly melted into a worthless puddle of slime. How ironic that someone could go into my past and shine the light on an encouraging post that I wrote.

Things aren’t any better today, by the way. God hasn’t pulled a “suddenly”. To make things worse, the situation that troubles me is quite out of my hands. In fact, the only control over it is to accept it or reject it, and the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been, as far as I can tell. (By the way…I don’t like it!)

control

So, what’s left? Hope. As hard as it is to grasp right now, I have hope. Right now, it’s just me and God – and the hope He promises me.

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5 ESV)

I spent enough of my life in shame. It would be easy to feel shame now. After all, my life doesn’t look so promising, and I’m honestly a bit anxious. I don’t feel like a model Christian. If anything, I’m a struggling Christian. I struggle to keep trusting God when he’s silent. I struggle to keep faith in Him when he doesn’t answer my prayers quickly. I struggle to put my life my life in his hands when I’m afraid he might end up taking me through homelessness to glorify his name. I’ve read those stories, and I don’t think I have the faith or fortitude to go through that! But at least I’m not hopeless.