I Wonder

One of the top responses I receive when I tell people that I believe every human will be with Jesus after this time on this earth, is that they think that means I am telling people that it doesn’t matter what a person does in their lifetime. That’s a tricky statement. I’ve learned to ask people to be more specific when they throw statements like that out at me. Otherwise my answer could have nothing to do with their real question.

But there are two different ways to answer that question. One way is to answer the question how I know they mean it: whether or not I think what happens to us after our physical bodies give out has anything to do with what I do here on earth. For me, now, I think we all existed in Jesus before He was born on earth, and I think when He died, we died. And when He rose, we rose with Him. So no, I don’t think the end result of what happens to me after my physical body gives out is dependent on me. I think it depends on Jesus. But what that looks like from now to the end result – I think I’m wise enough to probably not know how it all works out exactly.

The other way to answer their question is literally: does it matter at all what I do? I think yes, absolutely. To a point. Which is not me trying to dodge the question. I’m just speaking from experience. And experientially, I have never taken more responsibility for my decisions and choices than when I finally accepted God’s total and unconditional love for me. Notice, for me. Not necessarily all my behaviors. But when you know, you really know that you are securely loved – there is now real motivation to do better. The odds are not against you.

The flip side is that you cannot flippantly toss aside every failure as circumstances outside of your control. And yet, to a point. I’ve experienced situations where I’ve tried everything I know to try and the situation doesn’t work out. It seems like the door is shut. But for most of life, it seems like my choices matter more than ever now. When there are no rules, per se, you can’t put the blame for your screwups onto God and blame Him for the “formula” not working out.

I started thinking about this today in terms of wondering about how people debate whether there is “the one” out there for them to marry. It seems almost like a dirty trick if there is this person out there and you don’t feel like God gave you the secret decoder to figure out who they are. Nowadays I’m more apt to say it’s not God’s character to play tricks on us like that.

The more initially terrifying thought is whether there is NOT “the one”. Then that means everyone is a possibility. Then that means it’s your responsibility alone in regards to who you pick to marry. And you alone are responsible for that decision. For better or for worse. That puts the pressure solely on you if you married too quickly or ignorantly. In hindsight even.

Taking full responsibility would mostly give the deliberations about who to marry a much more serious tone. First you have to know yourself and figure out what you really value. What is really important to you. And then drop the fairy tale romantic crap. Little girls are especially indoctrinated with that fantasy crap. From Snow White to Cinderella to Beauty and the Beast. All crap. Just hang around and wait for Mr. Prince Charming to rescue you off to wedded bliss and riches. Am I jaded or is it true that isn’t likely to happen?

And yet there is an awesome connection when you meet someone with your same values. Undeniably. My point is most people jump the gun before they even get to that point. They confuse lust with like values. Or they connect in their brokenness. Which isn’t a sure sign of failure, but isn’t a great bet alone for success either. Others connect based on enjoying similar activities. But what happens when tastes change or abilities and resources change? What reason will you have to stick around then?

At some point commitment comes into play. But I’d like to believe there is still love out there that stays mostly without feeling pressured to do so. And so there comes my God. He knows who needs who. Sometimes who we need isn’t who we want right now. Or sometimes who we need right now is not someone we should marry. Maybe they were only in your life to learn something. But you incorrectly took it somewhere farther than it was supposed to go? Having the option of learning a lesson the easy way or the harder way. Scary to consider that choice may truly be up to you.

But on the flip side, I’d say more people settle for something is better than nothing right now. And probably keep repeating the cycle over and over until the repercussions finally slow them down enough to face the wreckage behind them and consider their part in it all. I’ve been there. Not raking you over the coals without including myself.

And yet I still have hope. Looking back and thinking of all the good that was still worked out of even the worst situations. Not that the good justifies the bad. But only that I think God’s grace can be found even in our worst failures.

And is it really failure if you keep putting one foot in front of the other and are a better person today than you were yesterday? I’d say no – failure is when you give in to giving up. There are times to walk away, but for me failure is defined by completely giving up hope for any good to be found in the future and giving up on God’s love for you. If you’re there right now, ask Him to help you see Him and help you see what’s good and where your hope is. He promises you will find Him if you seek Him.

I read a story today about a man and a woman who grew up in the same town in Mexico in different classes. The male was attracted to the female from afar but they never interacted because of the class separation. Then they both moved separately to New York and ended up working in the same restaurant and eventually getting married. How do you explain that? That’s too coincidental to be random.

So I wonder. With love as well as so many other things in life, what part is up to me and what part is up to God? And I find He answers my heart cries through experiences versus words and head knowledge alone. Be prepared to live it when you ask big questions like that. And hang on for the ride! Never a dull day with Jesus. I am thankful for this epic adventure of a life.

Choose Life

Funny conversation with a friend yesterday. I mentioned how I’ve heard it said that sometimes people unconsciously try to determine “God’s will” for their lives, as it pertains to direction outside what is specifically provided for in the Bible, so that when things go wrong/poorly then they can blame the outcome on God versus taking responsibility for their own choices/decisions/actions. My friend mentioned that other times people try to blame the devil instead of God. And then the funny part was she said the devil probably gets mad at that and says, “Oh that wasn’t me! Believe me, I could have done way better at messing things up than that!” 😁

We are probably our own worst enemies. Taking responsibility for our choices/actions/decisions can be an extremely rude awakening for those who have been using “signs” as a spiritual Magic 8 Ball. I’m first in line, unfortunately. Well-intentioned, to be sure. Even if at least somewhat selfishly motivated by wanting any and all “blessings” associated with “pleasing God”.

What if your spiritual security doesn’t depend on what you do? What if you’re already completely accepted and loved?

What if God, The Great Physician, prioritizes your healing over your comfort? What if He lets you insist on going off and wasting everything until you are sitting in a mud pile with the pigs and wishing to eat some of their slop? Because He knows that will bring the greater healing that you even have prayed for? Not to “please” Him, although He rejoices in your healing. Not to punish you; “it is finished!”

I think that’s what the wrath of God FOR you looks like. Not anger against you. But undying passionate love for only your best.

Do we want the God that loves us more than we love ourselves? The God who wants more for us than we even can conceptualize for ourselves?

Or do we just want Santa Claus? Or a spiritual sugar daddy? “Just tell me what will make you happy, Jesus. Tell me what I got to do.”

Ugh. I can barely write those words. But if you really think about it, that’s the demonic witchcraft at work in how religion attempts to reduce the unfathomable depths of God’s love and relationship with us down to transactions or manipulations.

God is not tricky. He thinks more highly of us than we think of ourselves. Enough to come down and let us abuse Him and murder Him. Without retribution. And from that same heart He gives us freedom to choose how we are going to LIVE this life He gave to us. We are little creators made in the image of our Creator.

Not students here on a lifetime final exam. Not children of a father that needs conformity for his ego. Not captive participants in some sick game.

You have the freedom to fail. And the freedom to succeed. Choose life. It feels like starting over. It might feel like the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to do. But He’s been with you all along. And He’s never going to leave you. Ask Him where He is. Ask Him to help you see.

Perfect love casts out fear.