Sunday, June 26, 2011

When Questions come

Recently, a friend of mine shared a part of his life and some of the questions he was facing with a certain subject. The very questions I too have struggled with time and time again. The questions that make us, in some ways, doubt our faith that God is good. All the time. Period. As I started thinking about the questions my friend had, of sin, of human nature, of free will, etc - I, too, started thinking of my life and how I too walked along such similar shores at one point. Once the questions were posed, I couldn't quite get my mind off it, so at about 1am last night, I wrote the following. It may make no sense... but bear with me. :-)

Dear friend: I had some thoughts. I'm definitely not an articulate writer, and I absolutely agree with others that we cannot give you a list of 'chistianese' answers that will suddenly make everything that is the Christian life make sense. However, I can share with you what I've learned as a follower of Christ these past few years and hope that you too can glean a little something from it.

1st off, reading through the 1st few books of the old testament is a great place to start when we start down the path of sin and how it got here. They are intense examples of sin in the world and what God did, before Christ, to bring us back to Him. All I can say is in the 1st sections of Genesis we see that God made the world,
everything in the world and He made ALL things good. There was no sin in the garden - not even a hint of it. And within the garden we see that God made a helpmate suitable for the man and He called her 'very good'. All things in this world were as they should have stayed - perfect and within His plan and will for our lives.

However, enter the serpent and the fruit, the woman and the man and we have the Fall. Suddenly, humans are given over to sin (thanks to their free will) and with that they are given hardship, difficulty, toiling the earth, pain in childbearing, etc. Sin enters the world. And what God made good, man suddenly is able to twist and make fit into his or her own little box. No longer is it God's plan of a perfect garden, but man's slightly marred plan that dictates. and slowly, (actually not too slowly because adam and eve's own child killed his brother), we see man perverting the perfection that once was. And this slow process gets worse by each generation. So much so that God has to step in and reroute his children to his good by flooding the earth and starting over.

And here's where most christians get hung up... If God is so good then why do we have suffering? Or why is doing this or that so bad? Why can't I just have what I want? And the fact of the matter is that God is good. Period. He's good all the time. And the best analogy I have of His 'good' being our hardships and questions is that of a mom or dad parenting their children. As kids we want more ice cream or we want to jump off the deck, but because our parents love us they step in to protect us from injury, to protect us from ourselves. The same is true of those moments when our parents make us do embarrassing things, like return that whistle we stole from the general store. It hurts when they parent sometimes, but its by their parenting that we grow up to be strong, confident humans in the world. So it is with God. Those 'no's' he gives us are not just to be mean - those no's are protecting us from the unseen hurts they could cause.

For instance, God has told me 'no' on a particular friendship for a long time and I keep refusing to listen - to let this friend go. But in letting them go I'm letting God take the reins and show His goodness and mercy to them. The same holds true with any sin - excessive drinking, adultery, idols - whatever it may be. He tells us 'no' to these things for our own good. But He never refuses our own free will. We still have the opportunity to decide our fate.

Have you ever experienced something like that? Gone down a path that you knew deep down was wrong, was not where you should be? And the deeper you got the harder it was to get out but your soul was screaming for freedom? Knowing what you were doing was wrong? That little voice that's calling you back to reality, to the safety and comfort, is God.

There will always be a longing in our souls, something deeply engrained that will beckon us back to the good perfection of the Garden. It's only natural that we miss what we've lost, though we weren't physically present at the time it was taken from us. But the Fall has left each and every generation with an imperfect life. And it's in the midst of these moments, these questions that we pose before the Father, that we are met with His gentle grace and whisper, "I'm here, I'm working, I love you... it's only for a season and all will be restored. Trust in me and I will shower you with mercy."

Day by day.
Hour by hour.

Choosing to follow the straight and narrow, though we may stumble and fall along the way. It's achieving for us an eternal glory that we cannot see nor can we fathom. But I leave you with this... it's worth it!