Saturday, May 31, 2008

When I am bad?

I recently came across some interesting reading on one of my favorite sites and I thought I'd share since it definitely spoke to me. I'm not that great at linking but it's from a site called Stuff Christians Like.

When I am bad, God does not love me and gives me bad times. When I am good, God loves me and gives me good times."

Christians often let this dangerous belief seep into their lives. No one sets out to design a works-based God, it just sort of happens. When you do well on a test, your teacher is happy with you. When you try hard in a game, your coach is happy with you. When you do all your chores around the house, your spouse is happy with you. When you finish the project early, your boss is happy with you. It's very easy to find examples in our lives of cause and effect relationships. Areas where if we do something deemed as "good," we are rewarded with something good. That makes sense. That is a logical way to look at life. And so we start to naturally and quietly apply that same filter to God.

But here's the thing, God is weird. I know that does not sound theological, but He is. He does not operate like us. His ways are different. Sometimes He gives us seemingly horrible things because He loves us. That is a weird sentence that begs further explanation.

(If you've never read the story of the prodigal son, here's a one sentence recap: Young son runs away from home to spend his inheritance on hookers and comes back broke but is thrown a party by a father that is overwhelmed he is still alive.)

I missed a word the first 100 times I read this story. The word I am talking about is "famine." Here is what Luke 15:14 says:

After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.

Did you ever wonder why he needed a severe famine before he began to be in need? I mean he had nothing. His money was gone. His friends were presumably gone. He had nothing and was nothing, but that was not enough for him. He needed the famine to hit rock bottom. He needed the famine as the final straw that broke his stubborn back. And I did too.

I think God is in the famine giving business. I think in the prodigal son story He gave the son that famine. He funded the downfall by not refusing to give the son his money. Certainly he knew the son's intentions and yet he gave him the money anyway. He even helped create a famine moment for the older brother. Did you ever notice that? He didn't invite the older brother to the party initially. He says get a robe, slaughter a calf but never "and go tell his older brother to come." He broke the older brother by throwing that party for the son and he knew it. When the older brother comes home and realizes his messup brother is back, he angrily says:

'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.'

That's not just an angry relative yelling at a father. That is a man standing in the middle of a famine, a moment during which everything he knows about life has been proven incorrect. Good deeds don't equal good rewards. His world is upside down.

Why does God give us famine moments? Because there is nothing He won't do to draw us close to Him. Would the God that killed His son to get closer to us find it too cruel to throw you into a famine? Would the God that watched His only son hang on a cross find it too harsh to bring you to the bottom of a dark pit if that's where you would call out for light? I don't think so.

Chances are, you know someone in your life that is in the middle of a famine. If you do, please don't try to rescue them. Don't try to pull them out of it or Bible verse them out of it. Go stand in it with them. If they are hungry, go be hungry beside them. If they are drowning, let the ocean sweep you up too. They might be right where God wants them. They might be standing in His embrace without even knowing it. Tell them about the gift of famines. They might not understand but tell them that God loves them. And He will do anything to show them that.

Maybe you're in a famine right now. Maybe right now in Houston or California or Singapore or London or New Zealand you're the reason I was supposed to write this. I can't stand in your famine because I'm a thousand miles away but there's something God wants you to know - He loves this. This doesn't have to be about failure. His love is not only expressed through goodness. Sometimes deep love is expressed through deep storms. But He loves you.

I really relate to feeling as though God punishes when we are bad and rewards when we are good. I can't help but wonder if maybe I hadn't decided to step down as a sunday school teacher would I have had to go through some of the things I have recently.

(before I go on my bronchitis is slowly healing, and my mother is safe at home with medicine thanks for all the prayers).

It's incredible to me that God can love me no matter how horribly self pitying I am, no matter how much anger is in my heart, nor how much doubt I face. He's still there loving me and holding me. I love the picture the writer expresses of seeing someone in a famine instead of trying to get them out of it stand with them through it. I feel like I may be in a spiritual famine in which as I have discussed before I feel as though I'm on the brink of something but I'm not sure what or even how to go about finding out. I am still very unsure of my place in life right now. I feel like I'm supposed to be doing more I just wish I knew what it was. I was spoken to through this message. God is good, and I must be patient.

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