I had this place where I was comfortable, where everyone was nice and just doing the best they can in this life. And God, while good, seemed rather distant and easily contained. Life just ticks along – you get up, feed everyone, rush around getting ready, go to work, come home, eat supper, hang out and go to bed just to get up and do it all over again.
It was easy for me, then, to become cynical about the faith that I was raised in, to punch the holes into the theology of the people I grew up with and spot the gaps in the preaching and methods, and point a finger of blame when “they” got it wrong, to separate myself from the culture and, like most kids raised by immigrant parents (because, in a way, my parents were like immigrants to this strange new land of Christianity), I took for granted my life in the new Kingdom, completely unable to imagine a life without freedom, without joy, without Jesus.
(For instance, after my post about my parents’ marriage, a few of you wrote to say “YOU ARE SO LUCKY!” and I realised, yes, yes, I am. The gift of love and rock-solid security is one that I still carry today. Never underestimate the power of a Godly heritage and a legacy of Love.)
My life hasn’t always required a lot of faith.
My parents – the immigrants of the old world into the new kingdom of love – fought hard so that I could rest in that easy place. They walked away from the rage and anger, the bitterness, the generational tendencies, the “your father did this” and so “you’ll always do that too,” separating us from the Old World through their own obedience. And I took for granted things that came easily to me in the Kingdom of Love, unable to recognise that they were easy for me because my parents had paid the price.
Because of their obedience to God, because they have sown in tears and joy, I am reaping that harvest of love and faithfulness, of a good marriage, of faith, of questioning, and of knowing even seemingly mundane things like how to breastfeed and fight fair.
My legacy has meant that rather than fight the battles they fought, I have had another type of battle to overcome: being cynical, skeptical and prideful among them.
But God will not leave us there – in the seat of pride and ease – for long. So my new chapter of life started when God tuned the frequency of my heart to a new wavelength. And I heard and saw and wept with the echoes of poverty, suffering, death, war, complexity, no-easy-answers and even the presence of rank evil.
In a small way, in my adulthood, I, too, experienced my own disillusionment, my own sorrows, my own losses.
And now I meet normal looking girls that broke their own arms, preferring physical pain over the emotional torment of their souls. Ones that were so angry, full of rage and bitterness that it became hard to love the unlovely. I was convicted of my own judgemental heart and it stung to remember that anyone can love those who love them back. I heard of betrayal, rape and torment, my heart wrung out for Africa and my next door neighbours. Broken homes and families, crippling anxiety and depression for loved ones, violating sexual and physical abuse, trapped in drug and alcohol addictions – we’re all just going through life, acting like we’re fine half the time.
Now I see a world that desperately needs a rescue.
This is a world where I need faith. And I see I am no different.
I am looking with new eyes at Scripture these past few years – no longer skipping over them like they were rote memory verses from my childhood or misused snippets for fridge magnets or weapons of warfare to be used against others that believe differently.
No, now I look at Isaiah 61 and see that God’s heart for humanity is… good news for the poor, comfort for the broken hearted, the release of captives and freeing of prisoners. I hear that his favour has come and he gives a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair.
And now that I believe it – like truly in my heart of hearts, believe it – then that makes all the difference in the world.
The truth is that in a nice, sanitized, neat and tidy world – it’s easy to live like you don’t need Jesus. In these modern constructs, designed to make life as easy and mess-free as possible, you can embrace the illusion of control over your own life.
It’s when you step out, into the world, into real life (or get shoved out into that world, so I hear from some, by the choices of others or random chance) that you realise: oh, we need Jesus.
When the longings of our heart can’t be satisfied by the things of this world, the only explanation is that we were made for another one as C.S. Lewis wrote.
I’m walking closely with Jesus again, clinging to Him to hold my heart together, asking daily for wisdom and strength. (Sometimes I feel like it takes more wisdom and strength to potty train than anything else in the world.)
I’m feeling the pull of the Old World against this New Kingdom of Love and every prayer I pray, every hand I hold, every word of hope and life I speak, every eye I meet is an act of protest, a snatching back from the darkness, a proclamation of freedom, a revolution of LOVE.
(I’m also realising that most of this makes no sense. I appreciate you being here as I process my journey out loud, often not knowing what I mean half the time.)