An Unexpected Journey in an Unsuspected Place

I wish I could tell you exactly how many times I’ve sat down at this blank WordPress post and tried to type out words – of encouragement, or of correction of social injustice, or even of a simple update on what’s going on in my life. The reason those things don’t show up is because I can summarize what’s going on in my life in a single word – BUSY.

When I’m not in school or at some kind of rehearsal or another, I am doing schoolwork. That’s the aggravating thing about being homeschooled and taking deadlineless online courses – you don’t feel like doing them. Ever. Last post I examined my poor motivators, one of them being last-minute panic, and there isn’t quite an element of last-minute panic when you’re setting the deadlines for yourself and you can very clearly hear the devil on your shoulder that’s saying, “Hey, you can just do this next week. No big deal! Forget about it!!”

So, it’s a good thing I’m not going anywhere for spring break next week, because I have a bit of catching up to do on that regard. But, procrastination can extend to everywhere – even here, my little write-happy corner of the Internet. There has to be some kind of force behind it – usually for me, that’s a social or religious injustice that needs a bit of time to fester in my mind before it explodes onto the keyboard late on a school night. But I had a little thought, and I don’t have to wake up early tomorrow, and I thought, well, okay, why not now? I have a DIY blog post (eep) and a nice full-blown update on college and life and school awaiting you in the future, but for the time being I just have a thought to share. Hooray!

I gave up Facebook and a slew of other Internet-social things this Lent, in an attempt to rid myself of the greatest thing that holds me captive from freedom in Christ: my dependence on other people’s approval. It’s only the third day in and it’s already easier to see my sin – I can hear myself thinking about people-pleasing tactics, and now I’ve been noticing how I run over conversations, past and future, before I go to sleep at night. What could I have done better? Did they think I was funny? Why do I feel so awkward around them? What if what if what if?? I didn’t realize how much of my mental energy is spent dwelling on those things, and it kind of makes me sick. I would love, love to be freed from that. I’d love to trust Christ alone and not depend on other people for my self-worth. Not in an isolative, I-won’t-humble-myself-to-be-nice-because-I-live-for-Christ-alone kind of way, but just in a way that humbles me before God and then humbles me to serve and love others, not so they will love me but so they might know of the Christ-love in me. (It makes me feel more peaceful just typing out those words of where I wish to go….totally power of Christ in me.)

But anyway. As I have a dependence on people, so I also have a dependence on the social networks that I try to impress them within. And, well, I haven’t been in the habit of reading or doing the things I love to do, as my last post pointed out, so I have been S O B O R E D at times these past couple of days. I have been reading a little, but it’s definitely hard to get back into when I haven’t been for so long. (Do you love reading? DON’T STOP, THEN.)

So reading has been slow. Today, the one social network I’m allowing myself to still use, a writing forum I’m part of, closed down temporarily for maintenance and will open at midnight tonight. My social self drowned in a black hole of NOOOOOOOOOOOO until my creative self said, “But hey, you wanted to alter that dress to wear on Sunday!” So I set to work with snippage and stitch-yanking and pinning, and I now have an almost-altered dress that’s waiting to be re-sewn back together. I decided against breaking out the sewing machine tonight, because the table’s a mess and I am still a procrastinator even on my creative endeavors. So then I had nothing to do. Again. At this point, my home-from-college brother had left to a friend’s house, because he is more fond of late-night video-gaming hangouts than I am, and my parents had gone to bed because they are physically incapable of staying up late.

So I’m bored and considering insanity because I have such a low tolerance for downtime alone (extraverted much?), but then I remember that hey, the Bible’s really interesting. And I start reading that. For fun.

Don’t go saying that the Bible is boring. I will sass you. It is interesting. And you have to read it, basically. If you want a relationship with Jesus Christ, you have to read it. None of this “well…I haven’t read the Bible in…three months…”

That’s the thing: you need to read it. It documents the reason for our existence, the fallen state that mankind is in, the free redemption that Jesus offered with arms spread wide on the cross, and the instructions for living life after we sing those words, “I have decided / to follow Jesus!” If you are a Christian, there’s no excuse not to be reading it. If you’re not a Christian and you’re searching for the meaning of earthly life and the way to eternal life in heaven, comment below and I will literally mail you a Bible. Those words will change your life like nobody’s business. Trust me.

But, I was just thinking, how cool is it that even though we need to read this book, God wrote it so we’d want to read it, too? I think that’s pretty sweet. 

See, the character and actions and creations of God are intertwined so heavily with desire, and until you understand that, God doesn’t make any sense. (Well, he’s not supposed to make too much sense to us, because we’re human and he’s God, but I digress.) Skeptics waltz around the truth saying things like, “If God’s so good, then why do bad things happen?” and “God’s not good!” and “God’s not real!” And, well, the thing is, he’s God. He’s God, and he doesn’t have to be good.

Yeah. God doesn’t have to be good. There are plenty of false gods that aren’t good, that inspire fear instead of love, and still garner thousands of followers. God – the true God – is perfect and holy and completely righteous. He could be a God of no blessings, of no beauty. He certainly didn’t have to send his son Jesus to die for us. And he would still be God. God is not dependent on the approval of the skeptic. He could take your family member away simply for the sake of needing to get rid of a human to let another one come in. He could be a recycling God, and he would still be God even then, even if he took away without reason.

If you think about it, there are a ton of things that God didn’t have to do. He didn’t have to create the heavens and the earth for us to dwell on; he could have just lived in his perfect and holy nothingness, and not bothered with humanity and our ugly sins. He didn’t have to give us an easier road to heaven through Jesus; he could have let us remain the impossible righteousness cycle and only allowed us near if we atoned for every sin with a sacrifice. In fact, he didn’t even have to have us near. He didn’t have to make us in his image, or give us free will. We could have been robots on the earth, loving him by command and not by choice. And he didn’t have to make the Bible interesting.

Do you see that he’s a good God yet?

And it’s all because of this outlandish desire and this great love God manifested in the beginning of time: a love for humanity, ugly as it may be, and a love for great adventures with happy endings.

He’s so joyful. And he’s so patient. He created the universe slowly, creatively, beautifully. He made us in his image, so we always carry around some beauty even if we are hopelessly broken.

He gave us a free will to make choices, and we blew it straight from the beginning and chose sin over God. And when we chose sin, we also inadvertently chose a world filled with cancer and car accidents and elementary-school shootings. We let evil in. Not God. But He gave us this free will, not so that we could mess it up, but so we could choose to love him. Because the person who chooses to love you and isn’t forced to love you is – well, is a better person to love. Wouldn’t you agree?

And he painted us a picture of redemption and invited us in by sending his son to die for our mistakes – the last sacrifice. And now, we can choose to be with him forever, and we can choose to live a life pleasing to God, and even though we still yet dwell in a world with evil we can tell everyone about the Eternity on the other side, and if we all believe this then we’re all headed to the same place in the end. We’re all just waiting together now. Nothing is dangerous when we live waiting to be reunited with our hopelessly-romantic Creator. And that, friends, is the great wild secret that Christians hold in life – there’s nothing to be afraid of anymore. Love has come, and love has won over powers of death and fear. Awesome.

But: the unexpected journey in the unsuspected place is all this ^^^, in the Bible. And that’s why we need to read the Bible. Because it says all that, in better words than I can. But it’s also interesting.

It’s encouraging for every feeling known on this planet, every kind of fear, every kind of sadness.

It’s beautiful in the Psalms and in the creation and in the Song of Solomon’s love festival and in every one of God’s promises.

It’s adventurous when God leads a group of thousands out of Egypt with only a single promise – of a land flowing with milk and honey, where they shall be his people and he shall be their God.

It’s convicting when Jesus comes and breaks down all your ideas about religion.

It’s amazing when in Acts, a church grows by the thousands in a day, or when Noah’s wooden ship floats on a sea-drowned earth.

It’s hilarious when Balaam’s donkey starts talking to him because he isn’t listening to God or seeing the Angel of the Lord. (A reminder of my own blindness to God sometimes…how much does it take to get one’s attention?)

It’s perfectly heartbreaking when you need your heart broken the most.

And it’s overwhelming when you finally get even the smallest idea of how much God chooses to love you, really love you, and redeem you to him forever.

I challenge you: read some Scripture tonight. Let the words sink into you and remember that this is the God of the universe we’re talking about here. You may be pleasantly surprised at its interestingness.

And don’t say it’s still not interesting. I will sass you.

-e

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