It’s not always easy for writers to share our hearts and minds with others. Part of being a writer is being able to use our words to blend lives and stories so that we disappear and our characters shine. Even non-fiction writers tend to bury themselves so that their stories take the central stage. Disappearing is easy. Being honest and frank isn’t. Yet, for whatever good it might accomplish, that is what I intend to do today. I’m not writing this in order to grab your attention. As already noted, I prefer to disappear. The truth that I want to put forth isn’t about me. It’s all about God.
Life is hard. It is for everyone at times and it is for others most, if not all, of the time. I fall into the second camp. Growing up, I sometimes railed against this. Why should I suffer when others didn’t? Why did they have normalcy at home when I didn’t? A non-drunken Dad who loved them rather than, like I, a Dad whose presence terrified? Why should they have a home to call their own when our family had to continuously pull up stakes and leave? Why should they have health when I had nothing but continual bouts of illness that my doctors feared would result in my death? Or, others have so much when my mother and I struggled simply to survive one long hard month to another? Why should their Moms prove to be a rock for them while mine became increasingly unstable?
I don’t pretend to have all of the answers to life’s questions but I have discovered one thing: life isn’t about us, it’s about God. Simply put, I was asking the wrong questions.
The purpose of our life is to know God, understand God, glorify God and obey God. In other words, life is all about God and not about us at all. Just as I discovered. When I look at the above questions in this light, they look something like this:
Why should I be blessed to have God as my Father, my Protector, my Provider when others might not?
Those are some powerful questions and understanding the answer will cause a believer to fall down in prayer and praise.
Do I wish my Dad hadn’t been an abusive drunk? Or that my Mother hadn’t fallen into anger and bitterness and poured her wrath out on me? Sure, I do but through the pain, I learned what it means to have the Lord take me up. Do I get tired of physical problems that manifest themselves quite regularly to this day? Quiet often actually but I’ve also gained a lot: I have learned to see God as my strength and protector. When we understand that what Satan or men might mean for evil, God means for good, our faith gets a boost. God provides, protects and defends even when our life seems to be nothing but pain, even when others have intentionally tried to tear down and destroy. And seems to be is really all we can say because we, as believers, know that since God is still in His heaven that, really, no matter how life is unfolding, no matter what is seemingly going wrong, all truly is well with us. Because of that we can relax and trust God.
If I look at things from a strictly human perspective, my life still has its share of pain. Because of the sinfulness of some of some family members now gone, my family still faces some problems that many Christian families don’t and, because of this, we have often looked on, stunned, as other believers, perhaps believing a lie once heard or trying to protect themselves from issues they fail to understand, put distance between us and them. At times we have had our trust in God doubted. Needless to say, these things hurt and put to question our place in the community of believers–not that we don’t want them but that they, we’ve sadly discovered, quite frequently haven’t wanted us. The naysayers can’t see our hearts, though. Nor can they see how hard we hold on to God, hope and believe in God to guide us and protect us or to make our pathways straight or to provide those things that many take for granted. For you see, compounding the issues, because of some sins and failures of some family members, both recent and distant, our family has little in the way of money or worldly goods and because of that it is a struggle simply to make it from day-to-day. I once heard a preacher say that believers often give lip service to God’s provision but fail to understand it or truly be thankful for it because our larders are full and our bank account comfortable. Our family doesn’t face that problem. For us, God’s provision is a constant reality. If God didn’t provide, quite simply we wouldn’t eat. If the Lord didn’t provide, we wouldn’t have shelter. If the Lord didn’t provide, we wouldn’t have anything at all.
So from a life lived somewhat out of what some might perceive to be the normal Christian sphere of experience, God has seen fit to teach me many lessons. The first is that God is worthy of our trust no matter what is going on in our lives. The second is that God is trustworthy even though many people, sadly even some believers, might not be. There are many other lessons and all involve God’s goodness and glory. The lessons have been costly but not nearly so costly as it would be to never have learned them. It is my hope that by sharing these things I disappear and my Lord shines and that you might see Him as I see Him: completely worthy…no matter what and completely trustworthy…no matter what.