Thursday, July 31, 2014

You Are Not Exempt

Many years ago a junior high school girl sat alone on the shaded concrete, hiding from the bullies who so frequently pursued her.  Leaning her head back against an equally friendless and blank grey wall she fought back the usual tears and reviewed her life for the millionth time.  It was in those moments that she reorganized her thoughts and tried to find a course for her life.  And again the usual understanding came when she made the mental account of the state of her situation.  God loved everyone else.  That was true.  He was perfect and of course would love everyone.  Except her.  That was also true.  It wasn't because of how the other kids treated her.  It wasn't due to any of the circumstances around her.  It was simply the fact she had long felt and the emptiness she experienced when she sought to find love from this great and powerful Being who loomed above her in the untold heavens.  He hated her.  He wanted nothing to do with her.  It was simply the fact she understood and knew beyond any doubt.  She felt that God would never accept her and didn't want her as part of His kingdom. She felt that she might choose to be an evil person that she might gain acceptance from somewhere, since striving to be good would surely avail her nothing in the way of the spiritual love and acceptance she so desperately craved.  She didn't believe that it was possible for her to be much of a success as a righteous person anyway.  

But considering all these things, she at length came to the solid decision that though God would never love her and though she might find success in being low, vile, evil, rude and grating, she would never turn that direction.  She had to do what was right simply because she knew it was right and evil person though she was, her soul needed to do rightly.  Even if she were the lowest servant in a tiny corner of unmerited heaven with a God that despised and ignored her, she had to do what was right in order to be true to her soul.  

I stood up, brushed off my disheveled clothes, grabbed my backpack and headed off to my English class.  It took me years to understand not only that God loved me more passionately than I had even the capacity to accept or comprehend but that He had never abandoned me.  In those moments when it seemed deaf heaven had slammed its doors against me and threw me to the buffetings of Satan the Lord had never left.  He was watching tenderly, allowing me to stumble and trip my way upward without realizing it.  He was allowing me to find out for myself which road I would take, not for gain or reward, but because it was what I needed to do.  He had faith enough in me to allow me to feel alone and unloved because somehow He knew infinitely better than I did that I could come out of it triumphantly.  He respected me enough to let me make my own decision in what I wanted to be and which leader I wanted to serve.  And the same is true of you.  Not one of us is exempt from the tender loving care of the Master.  Years may transpire without a confirmation of God's love but when that happens I would encourage you to rejoice and be exceedingly glad for once we pass through that trial of agonizing fire and body shattering ice the warmth and strength of His incredible love will prove ever more meaningful and we will learn that it was never really gone in the first place.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Why Does God Take Things Away?

Anguish used to permeate my soul when I found it was impossible to pursue a career in classical voice and I recall years of agonizing pain, feeling like I had lost a major portion of my identity when I became ill and to some extent lost my talent in singing.  It was one of the hardest things I have ever experienced and caused me to cling to my other academic love of English throughout my higher education.  High school friends majored in music and I lost sight of them as they pursued the road I would have given virtually anything to follow.  I set my sights on a PhD, and began to pursue my other sacred academic passion until the immoral antics of a few professors destroyed my GPA and shattered the hope of gaining my cherished goal any time soon, or possibly ever.  Feeling forsaken and imprisoned in a world that held little place for who I felt I really was, I had no option but to forge ahead, surrendering the events and course of my life to God.

Shortly thereafter I found myself with post traumatic stress and lost the ability to feel anything save the solitary emotion of compassion.  Amnesia wracked my mind and I lost the ability to do some other things that I had held most dear.  Reflecting on these things one cannot help but ask why God would take those things I wanted most in this world and fling them immeasurably out of my grasp.  Ben Jonson, a contemporary and rival of Shakespeare, warned upon the death of his beloved child, that jealous God may take those things that we love the most lest they become our god and we hold them in higher esteem than the Almighty.  And I can't help feeling like there is some truth to that.  For my own part each of the things I had lost might have become points of obsession in my life, minimizing or even obliterating my focus on more important spiritual things.  Though my pursuits were not evil by any stretch, yet they inspired me so much that perhaps I might have found myself pursuing them even when in direct opposition to the laws of God.

Surely this may not be the case with everything, but it proves an idea that I feel may hold true for many losses in life.   Nevertheless, it does not have to prove the end.  When God takes things away from us, perhaps it is that we may learn something from it, rearrange our priorities, and rediscover those things that ultimately prove more important.  It may take some time; had someone told me to focus on more important things while I was in the violence of grief at losing my opportunity to pursue music I would have argued that nothing proved more important than what I had just lost.  But all of life is a learning experience and while the experience may prove painful there is nothing God cannot give back in greater measure, exceeding even our imaginations, when we learn our lessons from it and move forward in humble submissiveness to God.  And, as I have often noted, when God takes something good away it is only so He can restore it to us later more powerfully than we ever had it before.