when bad things happen

i heard someone say recently that it wasn’t “God’s will” for a bad thing to happen.

the statement made me want to jump out of my skin.

it was a tragic thing that had happened. a lot of things that happen on this earth are. i suppose we like to think God had nothing to do with it. He’s a nice God, after all. He’s only in control of all the so-called “good” things that happen. the rest is the devil’s fault. that nasty devil. blame him for death and rape and disease and violence and all those terrible things we hear about on the news. all the “bad,” as we would define it.

but if that were true, i’d want nothing to do with a God like that.

i’ve been abused: physically, sexually, emotionally, spiritually. i’ve been betrayed and abandoned. i’ve struggled through recovery. i’ve been depressed and near suicidal. all bad things. bad things that were a part of God’s will.

as if God didn’t know what was going to happen in Eden all those years ago. yet, somehow, this world still happened.

and all that followed. cain killed abel. job lost his children. a flood wiped most of humanity. pharaoh threw babies in a river. ruth’s husband died. david had sex with bathsheba. israel faced generations of slavery and hardship. mary got pregnant outside of marriage. Jesus was tormented and nailed to a cross. stephan was stoned. paul spent many unjust years in prison. christians for generations after have been viciously persecuted and murdered.

these are all what we would define as “bad” things, but when you step back, you see the bigger picture. God’s design. a God who can make beauty come from the ashes…despite sin and its consequences. we can’t explain most of what happens here, but we somehow feel like we have to defend God, a God we hardly understand.

my heart hurts for all the pain and tragedy and injustice that happens here. i cry for people that are suffering, real and even imagined. i don’t deny that there is evil in this world – my life is evidence of that. i don’t know much, but i know God is God. He is sovereign. i can rest on that, in good and bad.

sara

what is “bad“?

the little things

living one day at a time, one moment at a time.

what a powerful truth.

every moment is a gift. an opportunity to glorify God in some way. an opportunity for Him to romance us in some way…and always by surprise.

i get busy. i get distracted. i get impatient, depressed, frustrated. I sometimes focus too much on the past, or am blinded by my vision of the future. i worry about what people think. i’m afraid of screwing up.

kids were good at reminding me about the little things. everything is so new to them. things i once overlooked, things i had tuned out, they brought back to my attention. from the growing process of a plant to the story of Christ’s death and resurrection. they always had a way to humble me with questions like, “what is a soul?” or  “how come Jesus died on the cross?” or the doozy “what is ‘God is love’?”

i know my time with them prepared for where i am now. even though i started a new job,  i still visit them.  i need the reminders. i listen as they go on and on about crazy things: like the lizard they almost caught or the sticker they got for being good or how so-and-so hit them with a toy shovel. i remember how easily they believed me when i told them that every streak of jet cloud in the sky was iron man and how a snake talked in a garden called Eden so long ago…

there’s a lot they don’t understand, but they have no problem believing. there’s so much they haven’t experienced, but that doesn’t stop them from living. they go on and play and cry and sing and fuss and grow, their minds enamored in their own little world. it was in moments i would catch their worlds expanding – when their eyes wide with wonder at some new truth…i loved to see them grow.

i had to adjust my way of thinking thanks to them. simplify it. pay attention to the details. be a source of love. i noticed the clouds in the sky, the sounds in the air, the way certain colors change when mixed with another. i had to be flexible and adapt to change. i had to remember that every moment was an opportunity to teach them, and to learn something myself.

things are different now. i have to open my office window so i can hear them scream and cry and laugh and play while i do my “grown-up” stuff. i love them so much.

we’re supposed to be child-like. it’s a command of God. and as i look back, i’ve realized that they were some of the best spiritual teachers i’ve ever had.

sara

if a preschooler asked you those questions, how would you answer them?

how i was disillusioned by “christian” books

i read the books all other christians were reading.

you know the ones.

on finding your purpose. achieving your dreams. claiming your blessings. how to figure out God’s will for your life (as if it’s some sort of mystery). i didn’t realize it then, but i see now how it disillusioned me. it was all wrong. dangerous, even. i overlooked so many things. i sought after what i wanted rather than what i needed. i often crashed from disappointment. i had an unhealthy fear that i wouldn’t be able to “figure out” what God wanted to do in my life.

but all those ideas dissolved in the light of His pure, trustworthy truth.

what is my purpose?

to glorify God (1 corinthians 6:20, 10:31). He is my creator, i am His creation (revelation 4:11). Christ is my Savior, and through Him, i am able to have a relationship with God. a relationship. something that requires time, commitment and effort. like getting to know anyone else, you must spend time with them. i get to know Him by listening (through His word), and talking to Him (by prayer). and what He reveals, i live. and as i’ve gotten to know Him, i can’t help but fall in love with who He is, and truly enjoy Him.

how?

by obedience to His word. i show God my love for Him through obedience (1 john 2:3-6). too often did i overlook opportunities i had right in front of me because i was so focused on my s0-called “purpose.” like there was something better and “more important.”  but really, all i need to do is glorify God right where i am. trust Him, where He has placed me, and let Christ live through me. “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” colossians 3:17, nasb

rather than searching for that purpose or fulfilling that dream or desire, His word showed me that anything and everything can give Him glory…which makes every breath mean something. every moment is precious. you know that line in the serenity prayer? it helped to guide me in the right direction:

living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time…

God didn’t make His will a mystery to me. His will for my life is right here in front of me, in His word. He laid out His heart for all mankind to know, and we must make the effort to study it. the Spirit will teach me “all things” (john 14:26). i don’t need to rely on anything else but Him to teach me, and to trust Him enough to live my life as Christ lived His. and that’s it. Christ is my example. His was the life of perfect obedience. i am to be a reflection of Him in all i do. as my life has become lost in His, i’ve found that there’s really no questions left to ask…He is all i need.

“He can crumple me or exalt me, He can do whatever He chooses.” -Oswald Chambers

i’ve  had to learn how to trust Him. how to take what i saw on the mountain and carry it to the valley. how to let go. how to love.  and what it means to have His desires become my own. it has released me from fear. it has released me from disappointment. it has released me from worry.

i am free. i am defined by Him. and there is no greater pleasure…

sara