This week has continued to send waves of discomfort crashing over me. It continues to shout, "This is not right! This is not how it should be!" From my friend's 8 year old dying suddenly to hearing a village is so saturated with abuse and alcoholism that women are not encouraged to participate in mission trips to the "zombie apocalypse" to a coworker's young wife passing away unexpectedly to the young woman still in bondage to abuse as a child, this cannot be what was supposed to be. There has to be more. There has to be a why.
I believe this tragedy started long ago, when humanity chose to not trust God, and we perpetuate it even today. Despite the fact that one might trust God now, things are still not quite right. A mother should never bury the love and promise of their child. Fear and shame should not control us. Weeping and wailing should not be so familiar to our ears. But it is.
What use is the Gospel? What does it mean if Jesus came to forgive our sins if nothing really changes? What use is eternal life if the present is still so dreadful and marked with suffering? Didn't Jesus also heal, feed, bring to life? Why isn't he doing that now?
Jesus still does heal, feed and bring back to life. He has done it for me. I was once dead, not just "in sin," but in spirit and heart. I am not dead anymore. I am alive and lively. I am joyful and hopeful. I wake wondering what adventure God and I might have, not annoyed that I woke up at all.
This world is painful, but I needn't suffer. I have great hope! I have seen great things-in my life, my husband's and other's around me. Eternal life starts now. The kingdom of God is here, and there. The kingdom of God is present when we, who are its citizens, are present-when we love and encourage and challenge and mourn with each other, when we allow King Jesus to guide our actions, decisions, perspectives.
I wish Jesus forgiving sins meant that we were allowed to again stroll the garden in confidence, in intimate connetion with each other and God. Our small group talks about getting naked (I have nicknamed us the Skinny Dippers), but we are still cautious. I still sin. I can share how my life has been changed, but I stumble when talking about the jealousy and pride and self centeredness that still poisons my life. Because I "shouldn't" have those things. Newsflash: even if my small group didn't recognize my short comings (as if!), my Father is aware. More even than I am! And He still loves me, still calls me to be with Him. Becoming holy is a process, I suppose. While this life may not change as we would like, I know it is no longer my home. And, man, am I grateful! I look forward to that day when intimacy and connection is the norm and weeping and wailing is heard no more.
The Gospel informs my life, my thinking, my understanding of my place in the world. The good news to me is that God has mercy on me, that God still wants me, that God has made it possible for me to be changed, that I am not damaged beyond repair or garbage to be discarded but a precious daughter-all the more cherished because of who her Father is! This understanding goes out to redeem my marriage, my parenting, my work, my use of time, talent, treasure, my past, my present, my future, my care for my body, my care for my spirit...all of it is connected to God's grace on me.
Friends, this world is not your home, so don't make yourselves cozy in it. 1 Peter 2:12 the Msg
This world is not my home. As a Facebook friend noted today, we are just visiting. There is grief and loss and sin in this world. And we will need to live here a little while. For those who trust in Christ, we know that this is not the end of the story. We will see those we miss again. We will only cry tears of joy, if we must cry at all. Pain will no longer plague our body. Our minds and hearts will be made whole, fully healed. And we will be home.
He who testifies to these things says,
“Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
Revelation 22:20 NIV