Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)
Bible doesn’t mince words, huh? We think that stuff is just for the movies. Not the “real world.” But apparently that IS the real world. Good vs. Evil. Just like The Matrix. Just like Lord of the Ring.
There is someone who hates you and wants to steal your soul. What? Too much? You might as well know. Whether you are so sure you have it all that you’ve quit looking. Or lost without hope in suffering. Someone hates you, envies you, wants to cheat God out of your eternal soul. You hear the whispers? The lies? Some of them embedded so deep you think they are part of you.
But wait. There is someone who loves you and wants you to live with them forever. Someone who knows all your dirty little secrets, knows what your heart really needs. Instead of the empty promises of money, food, sex, drugs, whatever you cling to. Shhhhh…listen. You are safe, you are loved, you are not alone. The tears were a gift, the Bad Thing not for nothing.
But you have to choose. You don’t have to change, try harder, clean up, or anything you don’t think you can do to measure up, deserve it, win that love. But you do have to choose. Go to the light. Or stay in the dark. Maybe you prefer the darkness, so familiar. But can you deny the hunger, the longing, that teasing hope that there is more to life? The nagging fear you are going to live forever with regret that you missed it?
The one who hates you lies to keep you in the dark. Without wings. Wounded or puffed up. Crippled in your soul. The one who loves you tells you the Truth…but only if you choose to hear it. The Truth does set you free. But first it make you crazy. Goes against everything the world has been telling you. Makes you a misfit on the spot. Calls you to choose the invisible God your soul craves and say no to the O so visible liars in the world.
If there was an easier way we would have found it by now, huh? We’ve tried everything we could get our hands on to be happy, haven’t we? Life made us crazy. Bad Things happened. Something keeps us frozen ever since. Tells you stories you believe, maybe even pass on. Your mind suffers. And your body. The other people in your life. Takes a bigger, better crazy to overcome all that. Takes the perfect Misfit, who knew you all along. Jesus. Murdered for preaching love and forgiveness. The world sure wasn’t having any of Him either. We are in good company.
Better to believe who He says we are than the labels the liars in the world tape to our backs. We are not what happened to us. Not the paralyzed body. Not the terrorized mind. Not the words the devil whispers, or fallen people call out loud. No. Not mistakes. Not ruined forever. Someone loves us. Knows our name. And our name is safe in His mouth.
“Who am I? Why am I here?” we wonder. And try on the labels, wear the hats, look everywhere for joy. And nothing fits until we find out who He says we are, who He created us to be. Find out how the suffering shapes our souls. How it is not for nothing. It is for everything. He knows you. He loves you. He has a white stone for you, with your name on it. (Revelation 2:17) And, wherever you are, however you are…you are not alone.
There’s a reason you never believed God. You thought He was like everybody else. Waiting to tell you what you did wrong. Or worse. There’s a reason you never looked into the basement of your own soul. Afraid to turn the corner for the smell that wafted up the dark steps down. You knew you couldn’t face what you knew you couldn’t fix. You knew there was no one to love you, keep you safe, hold your hand, while facing the carnage there. Until now.
It made you crazy to stuff the Bad Thing down into the basement of your soul, keep it secret. Even science knows now–it changed your brain, your body. But science doesn’t have the Big Medicine to keep it from changing your soul. So, go crazy! Pry those secrets up out of there. Hold them up to the light. And let the light heal your soul. Watch the Bad News become the Good News. Believe.
That is the simple beauty and power of the gospel: we find out who we really are by discovering who the creator of the universe says we are. Him we might believe. His love never shames us.
And then miracles come. We learn to give what we never received. Love someone who is too wounded to love us back. Pray for someone who is too broken to ask. Give to someone who might hate us for our giving. No, we didn’t deserve the Bad Thing that happened to us. Neither do we deserve the grace that transforms it all.
The suffering. The grace. The glory. That is the holy journey.