I just turned 30. That gives you reason to pause and reflect a bit on where you have come from, where you are going and what you are doing with your life. And if you are the kind of person that believes in God – He’ll likely be a central role in those reflections.
Let me introduce my backstory just a bit. I grew up in a loving Christian home. My dad was a youth pastor in a congregation for a while before taking to traveling and speaking (like a missionary) full time. My parents also lead short-term mission trips during the summers across Western Europe. In high school I far too closely resembled Mandy Moore from the movie “Saved”. Somehow I ended up at seminary where I studied Theology and Cross-Cultural Studies. In my travels around the world I gained a heart for the vulnerable and oppressed, specifically the sexually exploited. So I focused my cross-cultural studies on that demographic. In the midst of seminary I began volunteering with an organization called After Hours Ministry, a street outreach to men and women who are prostituted in Los Angeles. I now work with them on staff.
The problem is, as I’ve gotten to know God more – the more distant He’s felt. The more silent He’s gotten. I love reading about saints like Mother Theresa and learning that a majority of her life was a dark night of the soul. I don’t envy her – and I hope that is not how the rest of my story goes – but I really do struggle at times to see how she pushed through. How she cognitively clung to promises she had no actual experience of.
And that’s what brings us to the title of this post.
I read things like Psalm 9:10, “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”
Or Psalm 27:1, “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?”
Or Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Or Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
And I believe it (yes, I know I am proof-texting and out of context, hang with me) – I’ll tell the men and women who are prostituted on the streets of L.A. I meet those very words with all sincerity – the problem is…I really don’t think they apply to me.
Sometimes the Bible feels so big and impersonal. Full of contradictions you aren’t sure which pieces to hold on to and how to reconcile the others.
I believe fiercely in a God of justice that longs for human flourishing. That cares passionately for the oppressed.
I think the reason I have a hard time translating that to my own life is because I don’t think I’ve suffered as much as the pain I see in the world, so I translate that to God being busy passionately pursuing and attending to those others with he “real” problems. This is the same reason I have never once taken the time to talk to a pastor or leader at any church I have been at, always saying in the back of my mind “they are probably very busy and there are other people with ‘real’ problems that need their time.”
How do I expect God to care about my deep loneliness or the unbalance in my life when chemical weapons are being used in Syria? Or when young boys and girls are being enslaved and prostituted…
Or when there is drunkenness
Or when there is divorce
Or when there is adultery
Or when there is codependency
Or when there is homophobia
Or when there is addiction
Or when there is sickness
Or when there is death
It is hard to believe God is that big. And not rolling His eyes at me when I pray my small prayers and requests.
I think that is why we need community. That’s the only way the Bible and God begin to make sense. Because when I have a hard time believing those promises apply to me that’s when God sends a Krissy into my life to say “God told me to love you” and maybe that’s enough right now in this dark night of the soul. Maybe God will choose to be silent a whole longer but He sends others along the way to speak to me on his behalf, to help me to believe or to believe for me.
If you have a hard time believing the truths in the Bible that God loves you, will not forsake you, and blesses those who seek Him – I’d love to hear from you. Cause I have a hard time believing that for myself too – but I believe it for you, and sometimes it’s easier to see God moving in someone else’s story – so I’d love to hear yours.