Friday, January 23, 2015

The Life God Has Given You

If the story of Boaz and my sharing last week of Big Questions teaches us anything, it is this (and I am stealing this phrase from the subheading in a chapter of a book I was recently reading): 

Live faithfully the life God has given you.

Some of you may be saying, "There's no way God gave me this life. It's too messed up." You may be saying, "Whatever I know about God, I know this: that He would never have wanted me to live this life." Maybe you're looking around at the brokenness around you, the wounds within you, and you can't help but think that God must be far off. Or maybe your life is just boring and it feels like no life at all. How are you supposed to live nothingness?

I don't think when we say, "Live the life God has given you," that we're talking about the little details. I don't think we're talking about the day-to-day, although that's what people often construe this as. I don't think we're talking about the little junk that pops up from time to time and "patient endurance" and through-gritted-teeth thanksgiving. I think that's false faithfulness; I don't think that has much to do with God at all. See, we're not saying, "Live the existence God has given you."

No, we're saying, "Live the LIFE." Christ has come that you might have life, and have it abundantly. What we're talking about is not the little details; we're talking about the bigger truths. We're talking about the things that really matter. We're talking about the things that God is intending to shape in you through your existence; these things are life. 

Go back to the story of Boaz for a minute. If Boaz took these words as we often do - hey, Boaz, live faithfully the life God has given you - then he may have resigned himself to being the son of a whore. He might have lived a quiet life (and maybe he actually did), trying not to draw attention to himself because the life he was given, or so it seems, is the life of stigma. Of reputation. Of whispers in the hallway at school. There's Boaz, the son of that whore. Wonder if he even knows who his daddy is. But Boaz knew who his Daddy was, and he didn't live the existence he was given; he lived the life. He lived into the redemption story that was played out in his own family, and he became a redeemer himself. Was it pretty? Probably not. Was it easy? No. Was it sometimes grinding, a heavy weight, a constant wondering why God would put him in a place like this? Likely. But Boaz chose the bigger story, the one that was most true to God in him. And here we are talking about him.

Now, this doesn't mean we deny the troubles in our lives. It doesn't mean we hide from the less-than-pleasant realities that sometimes define our existence. We can't just whitewash our lives with faithfulness and pretend they're somehow holy. It's cheap and shallow faith to pretend that all is simply well and good. It's blindness to say that this existence doesn't matter. Faith was not meant to close your eyes, but to open them. It is meant to help you see clearly the life God offers in the midst of the existence, whatever that existence may be.

So it's choosing the bigger story. It's choosing to learn the lessons this existence can teach you. It's choosing to believe that what you see is not what you get. It's always daring to peek behind the curtain and discover what God is up to. He's up to something. When you live the life He's given you, you live into that thing. You live into what God is doing, even when the world seems to be doing something else entirely. You choose, in the face of scarcity, to go for abundance, to have the deepest things this life has to offer, to pursue God in your story, whether that story is messed up, broken, or boring. No matter what it is, it is something special, too.

In the middle of your day-to-day, the drudgery of your details, the yawn of your boring existence, God is doing life. He's doing it abundantly. Live faithfully into that life. It's the foundation of your ministry.

Just ask the kinsman-redeemer. Just ask the chaplain.

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