Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Love and This World

May I be candid?

I have a good measure of thoughts rolling around in my head, in my heart. I have a list of concepts I want to explore, Scripture I want to dive into. I have this, that, and the other thing that I could use this space for today, but none of it seems...valid right now. Because I am in sort of a weird spiritual place, quite a mess, really. It's not the first time this has happened, although it's the first time in the midst of it that I feel like I ought to pause and share. In the past, I have attempted to hide such personal questions from this space because it's not really what I envision Ransomed to be about, but two things happen when I do that: the words I do put here are inauthentic and...you guys notice that. 

The real issue is this, as best I can come to figure it: I have been known, and been commended, for my heart for practical theology. Most of the feedback I get on this blog, on my books, on messages I have spoken in various places, relate back to my ability to make God a tangible, understandable presence in a modern world. To bridge the gap a little between here and there. I don't take that lightly, and honestly, that's what I love.

But what is a practical theologist to do when theology doesn't seem so practical? That is the heart of every God question I wrestle with.

It's a fine line for me, and one I do not tread lightly. Because I believe there is an overabundance of shallow Christianity in our world that doesn't turn people toward God; it turns them away. There are too many voices saying that love for God, and the love of God, overcomes this world and that it doesn't matter when life is hard, times are tough, or things suck if you just love and believe in God. We get kind of this tearing between faith and frailty.

Between truth and the temporary. That's really what this life is. It's a pull between the absolute truth of the God who created this world and the temporary fallenness in which we all must live. Romans assures us that God works things together for good, but there are days this life does not feel good. And there are days when knowing God is working on it is not enough. Yeah, I said it. It's not. The Bible tells us that we have been redeemed, but let me ask you something - ever have a day when you don't feel it? There are times in my life I feel the weight of my brokenness above everything else. Knowing there's grace for my good mess, knowing there's redemption, knowing God is still shaping me does not ease the burden of my present brokenness. Sorry. It doesn't.

And there are days when life does not feel good and my present brokenness is so heavy that I don't even want to ask God's opinion about it. I couldn't get to grace if I tried. I couldn't raise my head to look in the mirror, I couldn't raise my voice to ask for truth. There are days when my faith is failing, and it does not seem like a practical answer to simply get faith back. It doesn't solve my very real ache to just believe in God again.

I love my God. I absolutely with every molecule of my being love Him. But I do not always love my world. On the days when I must choose, I will always choose my God; there are days when I can't love either, by the condition of my fallen heart. Those days bother me. They are usually the days when I am most looking for something to hold onto. They are usually the days when my hands feel most weak.

All of that to say maybe this: I think there has to be an answer to the world beside faith. There even has to be an answer beside love. It's not enough for the troubles of this place to say, "I believe in God and love this world," even if you love this world in His name. (That's the kind of love I'm talking about.) So what stands between? 

Painful as it is, I think it's truth. Truth. Painful because even truth doesn't answer all the questions. It doesn't dull the ache. I've had a rough go with this world in the past...29 years... (kidding. But it's been a challenging couple of weeks. Months? I've lost track.). Kind of in this tear between faith and frailty, between truth and temporary, things get messed up. They get lost. I've been lost. And I've been ridiculously hard on myself, as I'm quite prone to do. The thing that kind of answers the empty space, for me, is Truth, but it's not necessarily a solution.

This past Sunday, I sat in church and listened to a sermon that didn't really apply to my life (Marriage. Great material, but I haven't found my man yet). Yet there was some measure of truth in there that brought me back to that feeling I had lost, that holy presence of God in my life that answers my heart. I walked away from church on Sunday morning renewed, restored, reconnected to that vital source of life itself. But that doesn't change my Monday. It doesn't change my Tuesday. Because the world doesn't really care what God's truth about you is; this world is looking for something specific, and if you're not it, you're not it. Which leaves you to figure out this idea of practical theology, of how you reconcile the God who whispers truth into your heart with the temporariality of a world you have to live in that isn't looking for His truth about you, but is simply looking at you.

It's the place where loved meets life, and I haven't figured it all out yet. Maybe I'm not supposed to. Torn between two worlds, I will always choose the eternal. I will always go for holy. I will strive for righteousness and lay my life on faith. But torn between two worlds, I will also always wrestle with what that means to a woman who's got to live here. 

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