In many sports there is a target one aims to hit via a ball, puck or the like. For example, in American football the quarterback often throws the ball considering the often rainbow-like trajectory as he seeks to drop it right where a receiving player on his team can catch it with the highest percentage of accuracy for completion.
I woke up the other night with no apparent difficulty or negative event in my life, and yet somehow the title of this post buzzed my mind. For context, plenty of people who formerly proclaimed saving faith in Jesus no longer follow Him.
Their once professed faith has been shipwrecked on this or that “reef” of pain, dashed hopes, dreams. Sometimes it’s a loved one who encountered a horrible disease and died in great agony. Sometimes it’s a spouse who ended the marriage and the hurt was deep and immense.
In many a crisis a person may conclude that if there was a loving, personal God who really cared, well it seemed He was absent and silent when most needed.
Un-answered prayers and even at times outright rejection from those of one’s spiritual family, even blatant hypocrisy and flat-out sin thus became “the last straw”.
Just one more element of what has been a “funnel-down”, an old view that’s come around again among professing believers is that there is no hell. The words of Christ in the four gospels to the effect of a separation from God and God’s people are discounted.
Overall arguments sourced in textual and other criticisms leveled at The Bible itself, how the canon of scripture came about or perhaps merely a “Paul” (and/or other New Testament writers) were -not- writing scripture, not moved by God the Holy Spirit, and may be ignored or discarded.
Though I believe I indeed not only understand and sympathize with many, perhaps even most of the responses to misery or intellectual “enlightenment”, at the end of the day my own mileage of a lifetime of walking with the risen Christ carries me. Still I am convinced neither I nor any other serious Christ follower or agnostic or outright atheist can sufficiently deny we each and all wish to control the trajectory of grace. If there is such a thing, we want control of it.
We want what we want, when and how we want it. We want release from struggle, pain, ambiguity, hopelessness and lifelessness. We want not only deliverance from loneliness but also to be filled with a deep, satisfying joy in events and circumstances validating our own view of what love, life and personal achievement is. And often, very, very often in the real world it just doesn’t happen.
“Life isn’t fair” -for real!
My takeaway is that both people of faith (and Christians in particular) as well as lapsed, backslidden or simply rebellious (against God) humans are not our own source of UNMERITED, UNEARNABLE FAVOR on the one hand… and either un-taught, willfully ignorant or are in outright denial about Jesus Own words regarding personal, daily cross-bearing as NORMAL.
Though we do often experience great beauty and deep joy, life isn’t always fun, easy, not the party and picnic some claim faith in Jesus will bring to our present life on earth. Our lives can be authentic, true, real while yet traversing what imperfect people living among fallen, imperfect people in a sinful world must face. To embrace the difficulties in relationship to the living, risen Jesus as opposed to “curse God and die”, or “I’ll create a god and/or myth of MY OWN LIKING” won’t heal, fix or change reality. It will not change the sometimes hard truths Jesus Himself refers to as truth in the gospels.
Good News in the midst of a serious personal cross?! Really??
It is at this juncture many turn away from Him, His Word and His people.
When we try to source ourselves in grace by any other person or means we have missed the very grace of God. The fact is (and I won’t elaborate in this particular blog, maybe at another time…) GRACE OFTEN COMES BY WAY OF PERSONAL CROSSES AND PAIN.
Plenty of Protestants have next to no theology of suffering -which is equally true of most unbelievers. Think on that a while and you’ll begin to understand a bit more of what I’m getting at.
His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, His ways above our ways. In THIS world we often don’t come close to having all the answers, the full picture, the depth of WHY.
When in our agony and/or arrogance we decide spirituality and relationship to Jesus is a myth and a waste, we are effectively filling our lungs with cement and expecting to breathe.
You may think arguing that most or the whole of The Bible is fiction, but I will counter that fiction begins in the mind- and you too have one of those…
“I stand at the door and knock”. He won’t kick the door in. You may not hear Him. You may not WANT to hear Him. You also may well want to determine whether He’s real or is knocking at all. “Show up the way I want you to or get lost” sets us up for being lost ourselves.
Indeed. “Whosoever will… let them come”.
Not being God, we don’t get to determine the trajectory of grace. Sometimes it takes getting literally knocked off your horse and blinded -which doesn’t sound like grace at all, does it?
If we are not the ultimate source of grace, we don’t get to define it either! That must be left to the Author of grace.
Things to consider as we journey?
As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn