Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Journey

Life is a messy journey.

I preach every Sunday, and one of the things I like about sermons is that they always wrap up neatly at the end. There’s an introduction, content, application, and some kind of conclusion that wraps the whole thing up. Something was accomplished. It’s finished, and I’ve done something worthwhile.

I wish life worked that way. I wish I could go home after preaching a sermon and it become immediate reality for me. I would love God with all my heart, pray throughout the day, see God in everything, carry my cross, and always be courageous about my faith. I used to think most preachers I met were fakes, plastic people incapable of real feelings. They reminded me of Hallmark cards. But now I think they were just trying to live up to the ideal they preached, and trying to be like that all the time is exhausting. You can’t show too much of yourself, because then people might find out that you sin, too. Then you’re a fake. Then your sermons aren’t true anymore.

The Old Testament gives me encouragement. The same Elijah with success on the mountain became suicidal soon afterward. In fact, Job, Jonah, and Jeremiah were all suicidal at one point. Look at David. We like to separate the cheating, murdering David from the David who slew Goliath with 100% faith. But they were the same man. He was a man after God’s own heart, yet he still had the capability to be completely selfish and destructive.

Life is a journey. A messy, unpredictable, and sometimes frustrating journey.

I guess that doesn’t sound very spiritual. The Christian Life is supposed to be black and white. But the people I read about in Scripture weren’t ruled by the black and white. They wept, bled, and sinned. They struggled, and weren’t always sure what to do. They did wrong even when they knew what they were doing was wrong. Yet, somehow God still used them to fulfill His will.

The worst sin ever committed in human history was murdering the perfect Son of God. But God used that to bring about the best thing in human history: our redemption. Maybe the same God who used a mess like that to bring about something good can use my messy attempt to follow Jesus today. Maybe He can even use my mistakes.

I’m not depressed, and I’m not struggling with some huge sin. I’m just coming to grip with the idea that bringing Christian truth into real life is a long, and sometimes emotionless journey. You grow up thinking it’s supposed to be exciting. And in some ways it is, but really most of the time it comes down to me doing what God wants me to do even when I really just feel like being a baby. And then going to my knees because I was being a baby anyway.

I am thankful for the journey. The key is that throughout all the mess you read about in the Old Testament, God is always there. He never forsakes. He always stays true. He teaches and guides even when we think He’s nowhere to be found. That same God works in our lives no matter how messy it gets, and that pushes me to seek Him more and more. And so I’m thankful for the messy journey. Because every fall and every triumph is another step with God. That gives me the joy to keep pushing, because I know one day I won’t have to push any longer. I’ll get to sit at His table, and that’s what keeps me going.