Where is God in the earthquake, where is God in the genocide?"
Good question Jon Foreman. Where is God? In another song he asks God, "Where will I find You?"
Where did I find God in 2011? Well, let me state for the record that I don't believe God is too tough to find. He isn't hiding from us. It might not always be easy to see God, sure, but whose fault is that? We live in a world shaped by our collective decision to push God away, but, try as we might, we can't hide God's face. He's there. He's here. And in the midst of a year that didn't make a lot of sense, that shook me up on a pretty fundamental level, I think that's the big solace, the same that Job found at the end of his story. God is here. God is present in the midst of my confusion, my pain, my failure. He is straddling heaven and hell for me and I don't deserve it, but that doesn't make it any less true.
I don't mean to paint a bleak picture of this last year. In a lot of ways it was the best of my life. Things are moving forward, that's for sure. I feel like I'm on some grand adventure, with a blurry picture of the destination, coming clearer every day. I've got friends, at home and at school, who are holding me up when nothing else is, and I'm even receiving intense training for my future in youth minitry, in Young Life, in school, and on the field mentoring some of the most amazing kids anyone could hope to know. Between my brothers and sisters at school, in Young Life, and at home I couldn't feel any more supported and loved, and that's a pretty spectacular place to be.
In spite of all these blessings, this year found me a bit lost, lacking for direction, and preoccupied with nonsense in such a way that I was willfully and persistently forsaking God's calling for me. It's striking, and embarrassing to me how often I am able to chastise others, silently or aloud, for ignoring God's calling in their lives while doing the same thing in my own life, only I'm worse, because I work tirelessly to appear like it isn't true. If I spent half as much effort actually engaging God as I do pretending that I am, who knows what God might be able to accomplish through me?
I run, like Jonah ran, like we all run. We run from God because we're scared that the life He offers might cost too much. It might cost us our passtimes, our cars, our friends, our boyfriends and girlfriends, our comfort, and God forbid we ever lose our comfort. The American Dream dictates that our ultimate ends are comfort, security, and prosperity, and contrary to what some televangelists might claim, God promises none of these things. And as frightening as God's calling might be, to surrender everything for His sake, I've discovered that the alternative, to ignore, to feign apathy, to run away, is too exhausting. I can ignore God for a day, or a week, or a year, but I can't ignore Him forever, and frankly I'm tired of trying.
For those of you who assume that I'm right with God because I appear to be on the outside, please believe me that this only means I've become an adept pretender. The fruit may appear to be without blemish, but it is bitter to the taste. I want to resolve to quit this pretense, I want to commit to live a more sincere life this year, but the cynic in me is tired of committing to change because it seems like the change never sticks. The child of God in me knows better though. I know that God loves me exactly where I am, but loves me entirely too much to let me stay here. I can't change. I can't treat my own wounds. I need God, and I know this. That's the only advantage I have, that not everyone knows how much God loves them, and how much we need Him, and I do know that, and that makes me pretty lucky I think.
I'm going to try to cut this short. I write really long blogs, which would be fine if I weren't saying the same thing over and over again. 2011 was, by far, the most dynamic year of my life. I've soared on the wings of my Father to heights I'd never thought possible, but the Enemy took advantage of every opportunity to deceive me into believing that these accomplishments were my own, that the joy of my present journey was the fruit of my own labor, and I fell away, and I fell hard, time and again. The truth is, I'm a very blessed young man who pities himself entirely too much. I'm on an adventure, the likes of which I never could have scripted for myself, and the beautiful thing is I don't have to. My playwright is the best in the business.
Where did I find God? Goodness, where didn't I find God is a better question. He's in the wind, the stars, the words of a good song, and the need for Him, the desire to go on this journey with Him, is written into my DNA. Why do all our stories need a hero, a savior? Because we were made for this, and everyone knows it, even if we don't talk about it. Why do we always sing about love? Because we were made for it, we were made for Him, and anything short of that just reminds us how broken we are. Some days I wonder whether or not it would be easier to just give up on the whole God thing. I imagine it would, but what is easy is seldom right, and what is right is seldom easy. Christianity shouldn't make life easier, it should make life better, and my life is good. One love
Happy new year. Here's to hoping this year brings change, growth, freshness, a renewed sense of wonder.
"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."