One of the most common fallacies circulating both the Christian and secular world, quoted to give people a removed sense of life, a distanced and spiritual feeling, is the following idiom:
“Well, you know…”,
(the speaker looking off to the upper right with faintly upturned eyebrows)
“Everything happens for a reason.”
No. No, no, no, it does not.
Well, I should clarify. Sometimes, sometimes it does. As Christians, we are all aware of the fact that God works in the here and now, placing blessings in the form of comforts and hardships alike in our lives. We know this; we all can recall shining Sunday School stories emulating this message. And don’t get me wrong, these stories are beautiful. Manna in the dessert, the sun standing still, they are beautiful.
The problem with “Everything happens for a reason” is that it creates a sense of predisposed life by God; a path so manufactured and laid out ahead of time that should we feel compelled to dislike it, it only proves our senility as humans and our emotive weaknesses and our lessened spirituality and our failure to accept God’s power.
…But this is free will.
…But this is an areas acknowledged as under Satan’s realm (temporary yet nonetheless).
…But this is man on the workbench, taking swings and giving punches, sawing away at what love means and what being an individual means and how our soul relates to everything else around us; to everyone else around us.
…This is planet Earth, people. And while some may be offended at the language I am about to implement (spoiler alert) I nevertheless feel it important to occasionally forgo the vocabulary and just say it how it is:
Like, actual shit. Not holier-than-thou shit, not beautiful shit, not shit that smells good, and most certainly not shit that people should say is wonderful. Shit is not wonderful. God is. I’m gonna say that again, then we’ll look at why this is a huge distinction and maybe you’ll get why it can’t be repeated enough.
Shit is not wonderful. God is.
Why is this important? Because this is what we need to dwell on when (another spoiler alert here) shit hits the fan. When someone dies in that car wreak, when your sibling gets into that messy trouble, when your job is slashed, when your provisions threatened, when your relationships crumble, when your heart breaks and breaks and breaks, when shit happens. Call it shit. Please. Just please have the freedom and the reality and the frankness and brokenness and honesty and lack-
Don’t get all spiritual and holier-than-thou (which we all know is just a psychological mechanism to distance us from the situation.) Yep. Think about it. Saying “Everything happens for a reason?” Just another way of saying, “This situation is not bad.“ This is not an act of faith. This is an act of cowardice and mistrust of God; of self-preservation and denial. If you didn’t immediately acknowledge the situation for what it is, you are not living honestly, and you are setting yourself up for all sorts of mind games (since Satan thrives with layers of misconceived reality), the most pivotal mind game being a prevailing sense of guilt as your subconscious is still wounded and emotionally grieving and knowing the situation is shit (no spoiler that time, get used to it) no matter how much your conscious tries to stop it.
Let’s look at (drum-roll please) David. Here was a man who had a thorough mixture of experiences: experiences that were good and bad, experiences that God placed there or that just happened. …Because yeah, that happens on planet Earth. To deny that is to deny the fact that Earth is currently messed up; that people are currently messed up. Things happen. Shit happens. And David knew this; boy, did he ever. He called a spade a spade, he grieved and wept and let his God know in fairly detailed and emotionally charged speech what the situation was, how it was bad, and how it was affecting his heart. And you know what? This brought a closeness between God and David, the rare kind that involves complete honesty and emotional nakedness. A nakedness completely countercultural; a nakedness seen as weak and undesirable (or in Christian lingo, immature and un-Christian-like), a nakedness opposite to our instinct to defensively survive, a nakedness opposite to our natural pride and sense of self, a nakedness of complete and utter honesty. …Because, when you think about it, it’s not like God doesn’t already know what’s there; what’s tearing you to pieces. Presenting a lovely serenade to him of the wonders and goodness of a shitty situation, all the while with a torn and hurting subconscious and heart, does not impress him with your maturity. It breaks his heart to see his children manufacture a sense of order by themselves, putting a huge impossible pressure on themselves while simultaneously distancing themselves from God and distancing themselves from everything around them.
Another saying. This time one actually from the Bible:
Everything works together for the good of those who love God.
It does not say everything is good.
It does not say everything is part of a pre-packaged plan, travel-agent style, complete with specific detours and waylays to further the tourist’s balanced and cultured journey.
It says everything (immediately good and immediately bad) is fitted together by God after the fact to create the sum total of good.
And another (since it’ll be brought up in context of the aforementioned pre-packaged plan):
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord , plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future… (you know the rest).
These “plans” are simply His plans for the outcome, not necessarily the onset situations or as such.
So yes, the situation can be bad.,
It’s just that the outcome won’t be bad.
Cry, grieve, lay your heart bare before God.
Live in the moment and experience life as it is.
Stop idealizing our lives as a way of distancing from reality.
It’s not being a good Christian, it’s distancing ourselves from God.
Live in the moment, and you’ll see that true faith only occurs when the
Truth of the situation is realized. Don’t cheat the test by saying the test isn’t
A test. Call it a test, call out to God, and take it a problem at a time. This is the
true journey; this is the true growth, this is the true miracle of life as lived with Him.
So once again: Shit is not wonderful. God is. And even more wonderful for making good outcomes out of horrible situations. That is what we trust in. That is how we praise God in the midst of a crisis. That is the crux of our faith: as he takes our crumpled selves into the light and builds a whole spirit from our broken and confused selves, so he takes this world’s crumpled situations into account and uses them incredibly creatively and divinely to bring good to our lives (in myriads of ways and outcomes that could be broken down at a later date, but for now will suffice with summarization: good). This is what a Christian needs to be aware of at the crux of a crisis.
We must remember, our Father God is first and foremost the Creator. He creates; that’s just what he does, he is a creator just as he is love just as he is goodness just as he is holy. And he has not taken a hiatus from creating; he has not stopped. He lives eternal, but as he has told us, he lives in the present, with us, in the moment, with experiences, situations, tragedies, destructions, horrors occurring on a real-time basis. And what a delicious challenge this is to his creative spirit. The pain is crushing to his heart: as his son has walked as a man, he knows the pain of the present, as the original creator, he knows the pain of the loss of perfection, as a father, he knows the pain of longing for the good of his children, as a healer, he knows the pain of a doctor watching a suffering patient. But as a creator, he looks at the drawing board, cracks his knuckles, stretches his neck, and gets to work. Watch him work miracles. I dare you. Give him the situations (in all the gory honesty) and watch him work miracles. It just might take your breath away.
He weeps with us.
He is enraged with us.
He is dissatisfied with us.
…But if we are honest, call spades spades,
live in the moment in order to respond to his
direction and wisdom in the moment,
He will work it out to good.
And while not everything happens for a reason,
And while things that are bad are sometimes just bad,
He creates good futures,
As with us,
He walks the adventure.
In my mind, the title should now make sense.
If not, for heaven’s sakes, let me know.
Humor is only humor if interpreted as such.
That is all.
How many of us sacrifice what God has planned for us tomorrow, for what is immediately available today?
Last year at Catalyst, I heard Andy Stanley speak about Jacob and Esau in Genesis 25. Esau was the oldest, and therefore was given the birthright. In the 1st Century, birthright basically meant that you got a double portion of the family’s inheritance. You became the patriarch of the family, and were considered blessed, being the first-born son.
This, of course, made Jacob jealous.
So, one day after a long trek, when Esau returned home exhausted and starving, he asks his younger brother for some stew. A simple bowl of stew. But Jacob held it over his head saying “First, sell me your birthright.” And when Jacob says this, Esau replies, “I’m about to die, what good is the birthright to me?”
So Jacob gives him a bowl of stew.
And Esau forfeits his birthright to his younger brother.
He trades what God has planned for him, for the immediate.
And don’t we do the same?
We fill up on french fries while we’re waiting for our steak. But… then we’re not hungry.
We decide to cave in and look at the dirty website, instead of waiting for our bride.
We decide to leave the Church frustrated before God shone clarity into the situation.
We seek out sexuality with any/everyone, instead of understanding the beauty of purity.
We decide to hate those that aren’t like us, instead of developing a true love for them.
And the real kicker?
French fries are terrible for you.
How many of us sacrifice what God has planned for us tomorrow, for what is immediately available today?
Let today be a day of clarity and patience.
Just read through the story of Jacob and Esau today. GOOD stuff.
Don’t worry. We’re all learning and re-learning what it means to be a Christ follower. But though our homework is messy, our Teacher is patient. He is so kind. The Church should stop arguing about the merits of His instructional methods and instead just sit at His feet. They’d learn more that way =)
Much love to you. Let’s keep in touch.
“The first step toward greatness.” by @donmilleris
Will God use you? Ask Him. =)
If you want to become a professional golfer, you don’t spend your days practicing pinball.
If you want to become a Driver’s Ed teacher, you don’t spend your days practicing cycling.
If you want to become a pastor, you don’t spend your days practicing infidelity.
If you want to be known as a child of God (Jn 1:12), you don’t spend your days practicing, mastering and perfecting things outside of His teachings.
DUH! Academically, it makes sense.
We “get it” when we’re sitting here reading this.
But we have a hell of a time living this out.
If we can grasp this simple truth, and if we can remember it when temptations are flaring, we can really turn our lives around; we can become productive and effective for Jesus’ cause here on earth…
We will become VERY GOOD at what we spend our time practicing.
Do you want to be good at jealousy?
Do you want to be good at looking at other women than your wife?
Do you want to be good at being a bad friend?
Do you want to be good at looking at porn?
Do you want to be good at following Jesus’ whispers in your life?
Do you want to KNOW where God wants you, and to help change this world we live in?
If you do, practice. Practice the difficult things. Forgiveness, confession, repentance…
Because I can promise you one thing: You won’t wake up someday magically there, having miraculously become all of the things you want to be.
Unless you practice.
|—||Zephaniah 3:17 (via jesuslovesdesign)|