It’s no mistake that the very road that leads to suffering and death is the road of salvation. It’s no mistake that you have to give up life to receive life. It’s no mistake that the impossible becomes possible. That the world as you know, the reality as you have called it, flips upside down, inside out like something from a Dr. Seuss story book. Except this story is real. This one exists.
One of my favorite artists is MC Escher. I’m sure you’ve heard of him or have seen his work. They are like brain teasers where nothing is quite what it seems at first glance. You keep looking and you realize something is amiss, a little wonky. Or is it? Does it all flow and fit together even better than what you expected?
What if your patterns are just incorrect? What if they defy logic and reason? What if they don’t abide by the rules we have come to accept, like gravity or laws of motion?
It’s difficult at times to travel down your brain. The brain can be a deep, scary place. It’s why most of us just don’t. We don’t engage the thoughts that take us for nasty turns through dismal swamps. We don’t want to do the work of making sense of things and people and places in our lives. We want to avoid them at all costs, or we want to come up with the easiest, simplest, and/or least gracious answer that occurs to us. We explain away situations in our lives usually by blaming everyone and everything – except ourselves – and move on to the happy stuff, or try to control and manipulate those situations and people to affirm us in our flawed assessments.
I’d venture to say that if the bible is our textbook for living, God is not avoiding much. His pedagogy seems something like “Let me tell you about the worst possible crap that can happen and you can figure out what I did with it.” He allows horrific events. He rains on the just and unjust. He seems to “bless” the wicked or at least stand idly by as they gain wealth and popularity through evil deeds and misguided, hurtful choices. And He seems coldly silent when the faithful remnant are down trodden, become sick or drown in poverty.
Doesn’t it feel like God makes mistakes? If you’re like me at all, and I’m guessing you are, there are times you can’t help but feel like God didn’t really mean for that to happen. We even say as much, more or less, when we say things like, Well God didn’t want that to happen. It wasn’t His desire for this to be. And while it’s true on one level, it’s also not entirely the case. God’s desire is for us to be purified by fire and flame, by water and flood. We are poured out on the altar by His desire. We are broken and undone in order to be repaired and restored to perfection. This IS His will and His way. This IS His desire for us. Not that we should perish ultimately – and this is where we feel like we are perishing but it is nothing compared to the cross Jesus bore, and it is nothing compared to eternal damnation – but it is God’s good purposes that directs us through the valley of the shadow of death, and through the fire and the flood, through the tempests and the darkest hours of our lives.
And this is where our faith begins. How much you really trust Him is evident only in the dark times, never in the good. It’s easy to trust Him when everything is going right. It’s easy to give Him credit for all that. Not coincidentally, it’s also easy to take credit for all that. But when the darkness comes, and it always does, where does the credit go? We want answers and explanations, but the one we get isn’t good enough. It is His will and His way. We trust, we HAVE TO TRUST, that this is the only way to learn what we must learn, to be broken and reshaped into a more Christ-like spirit, and to grow in the knowledge and confidence of our God’s great love and grace flowing in our veins and giving us strength to not just “make it through” but to be triumphant and victorious!
So we say there is a reason for everything, and there is. And we don’t have to guess what it is. We KNOW what it is. We KNOW it is for our good. We KNOW it is to build into us and grow us up. It is our battleground, to show us what we’re made of, and more importantly to show us what we are NOT capable of, so that we more fully rely on what GOD is made of. It’s an upside down philosophy. I must become less. I must see beyond myself. I must see His kingdom and His glory.
I think of Palm Sunday and how the disciples must have felt entering the city of Jerusalem at the Passover. How epic that must have been in their minds! YES! We are finally going to get this thing ON! Storm the barricades! Revolt! Turn things around and drive the evil infidels (Rome) from our doorsteps. Let’s do this thing!!
How incredibly frustrating and overwhelming it must have been then to watch the One they thought would change the world be beaten and DIE. After all they had seen first hand. After all their dreams and hopes seemed to be coming to fruition. In one fell swoop they were scattered and their leader was tortured and hung up with the worst of criminals. “This cannot possibly be right,” they must have thought. “There must be a mistake. I must have been mistaken about him. How could I be so wrong?”
And they were wrong. But not in the way they thought they were. And oh glorious day we look forward to celebrating when Jesus proved what He was really here to do. It defied reasoning and logic. It was not the victory the disciples and the Jews were looking for. It was epicly more victorious and far reaching – so much further than they could have possibly imagined. As far as me. And as far as you. What wondrous love is this!
Make no mistake, my friends. God is at work. But His greatest work is done in you and in me. Jesus came to seek and save the lost and He has completed the work of salvation for us. And He will complete all, restore all, make all beautiful. He is doing it right now. I believe. Help my unbelief.