Monday, December 21, 2009

Still Hungry

Life gets easy. Life gets hard. Life feels easy when hard things are looming shadows lurking in the future. Life feels hard when things are really quite easy, and we just can't see reality for what it is. And sometimes, we can clearly, and everything is true and real.

Why is it that life isn't always like that?

Because emotions get in the way. The way I felt when I woke up in the morning paints the whole day a certain color, although the hue might vary as the sun travels across the sky. The exact same things could happen to me on a day where I'm on Cloud 9 and a day where I'm sinking in the ocean, and there's no comparison at all. I won't remember anything the same way.

This fact really begins to perturb me in my relationship with God. In my head, I know He's always there. He always sees the furthest, darkest corners of my heart. He hears my thoughts and listens to my cries out to Him. He loves me. He loves me. He loves me some more. Yet, I don't always feel like these things are true. On a good day, where the world seems right and just, it's so easy to be thankful for and aware of God's love. An evening with a splendid sunset so clearly points to His majesty and wonder. If it's storming at the same time the next day, my opinion on His power is a little different, though the same, really. Whether someone truly did me wrong or whether my brain chemicals just aren't balanced right, if I'm in a rut, God's love seems so far away and impalpable.

One thing that's always bothered me is how I want to believe that Christ is more than enough for me, but that it doesn't always seem that way. I mean, think about all the sermons and songs you've heard, my born-again brethren.

All of You is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You is more than enough

That sounds gorgeous. In theory, it makes sense. Nothing in this world satisfies. We all suffer spiritual existentialism that no material thing or activity or worldly relationship fulfills perfectly. It's a crisis in the soul. It would take a divine motivator to patch up the holes within. All the time, though, when I am hurting, I pitifully cry out, "God! Help me! You're supposed to quench my thirst and heal my broken bones, so where are You? Are You going to come too late?" If He satisfies, why am I not satisfied?

First of all, I am reminded of Hebrews 11, where our heroes of faith are described. Some, like Abraham, lived rather blessed lives, with their needs very bountifully met. I mean, he was not a poor guy. Joshua got to enter Canaan, the land of milk and honey, and received the promised land after facing the giants. Others won battles, performed miracles, and saw God bless them a hundred times over before they died. But others still were killed, tortured, beaten, mocked, exiled for the same faith that the "blessed" people had. It hardly seems fair. There are so many martyrs for faith that saw only pain and death for following Christ. No one promised that this life would be charmed once Jesus entered in. No one said the road would be easy, or that we would always have good days to make us emotionally stable enough to realize the fullness of God, to the capacity that we can even know Him.

I found myself even getting riled up at the idea that we would be punished for good deeds, for being faithful, until I read the end of this list: "the world was not worthy of them."

Wow. There's so much to be found in this one phrase. This world does not deserve to have the feet of the sons and daughters of Yahweh treading across its dust. It doesn't know how valuable and treasured they are to the One True King. It will mistreat and despise them for what they believe and the news that they carry. We were made for something better. We were not meant to find ultimate joy here on earth. This is but wandering in the wilderness prior to the moment we are brought before the Lord's throne in heaven, where we will finally feel at home. Safe. Comfortable. Content. Loved. Accepted. Nourished. Warm. Full. Happy. Perpetually happy.

"These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect." -- Romans 11:1-40

I think we have the whole "Jesus satisfies" thing a bit wrong. He is the only thing that will give us lasting contentment on this earth. But we can't expect Him to fulfill our every longing, desire, and need yet. It just isn't possible while we are stuck on this war and disease-infested planet. It's an imperfect and broken place, and God never promised to make life for us easy here.

We can speculate as to the reasons why He would make this happen. Because experience makes us better people? Because this domain belongs to the forces of darkness and must die with them also? These are all interesting to be sure. The fact of the matter is, however, that we must fix our eyes on the promise of complete restoration in heaven, where we will never see another tear drop or hear another rumbling stomach ever again. We will see nothing but smiles, hear nothing but songs of joy and praise. Then life will be easy.

The closest taste we can have of this future is the church, the Word, the Holy Spirit, all the gifts God has bequeathed unto us as things to tide us over until our triumphant entrance into His true kingdom. We have what He's told us, we have His presence to guide us, and we have His word to encourage us. Until then, all we can do is keep chasing the goodness found in this world, clinging to hope faithfully, and banish fear: God loves us whether we love Him, believe in Him, forget about Him, or not.

We're too small to see life as it really is, no matter how hard we try. We're confined to tunnel vision where things are either going well, badly, or somewhere in our perceived in between. It won't be until I meet my Savior face to face that I can experience the fullness of His love, and experience the fulfillment of my soul at long last.

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