God is good. He has a plan, and it ultimately is about his glory. I believe this. I have no other hope but this. God is the hope for the world. He is the hope for me in my despair, in my anxiety, in my doubt. God identifies with my struggles. He was tempted as I am tempted. He put on flesh. He lived in my place. He died my death. He got up from the dead, and he put death to death. He put his spirit within me to teach me, remind me, equip me, and intercede for me. He groans for me when I have no words. God calls me to the most radical things. He calls me to love my enemy and pray for him/her. He calls me to die to myself daily. He calls me to prayer that doesn’t cease. He calls me to love my neighbor as myself. He calls me to love my wife enough to lay down my life for her. God is gentle and he is bold. He has come as a servant and he is coming as a warrior. He has ridden on the donkey and he will ride the majestic white horse. God IS love, and he loves. He has adopted us as sons and daughters. He is the abba Father. Big enough to hold the earth in balance, close enough to know our inner most thoughts, fears, and joys. He spoke the universe into existence and has always existed. He predates time and lives outside of space. Yet, he put on flesh and washed dirty feet. Though he told the whore to sin no more and meant it, he pardoned her sins and derailed her accusers. The God of the bible is a lover, a warrior, a savior, a king. He is The Lord of Lords, the beginning and the end, the way, the truth, and the life. He is the advocate, the ladder to heaven, and the fulfillment of centuries of prophecy. He has preserved his word through thick and thin giving us the chance to know him and be known by him. One day his trumpet will sound and we will awake from a deep sleep to discover a new and lasting existence. A world free of sin, fear, death, pain, struggle, separation, heart ache, loss, violence, and lies. We will see the Father and he will meet all our needs. God is good indeed. He has a plan. And it is wrapped up in his own glory.
My wife Sarah and I started attending marriage counseling a few months ago. The main premise that our counseling is built on is that as fallen sinners we all learned different un-Christ-like and unbiblical ways to get our needs met. And now even as new creations in Christ (who should be looking to God alone to meet our needs) we still occasionally dip back into our memory banks (or live in our flesh as the bible describes it) to old patterns of behavior that seemed to work to help us feel like our needs were being met. This can happen faster than we can even process most of the time. It’s a split second decision to react in the spirit or react in the flesh. Our counselor reminds us regularly about the biblical concept that whatever we are filled with is what will overflow from us. We serve others in love and selflessness when we serve from an overflow. When we are already at a deficit ourselves we don’t have much to give to others. I remember the first time I was told that until I learned to receive God’s love and to truly believe that because of Christ I am lovable that I would not be able to give love to Sarah, it wrecked me. I really believed that I was loving Sarah. And I suppose I was… as much as I was able.
At first I was resistant to the idea that our counselor was putting forth. “Surely not every problem is a result of us trying to get our needs met by someone other than God,” I would argue. But before my first session a friend encouraged me to just embrace the process, and so I stuck with it…. even in my frustration and doubt for the process. I’m glad I did. I can tell you that I’ve grown a lot. And my wife and I are finally learning to communicate more effectively. We are both even working through difficult personal struggles that have kept us from truly allowing God’s love to be felt in our lives. We are learning what it looks like to love ourselves so that we can love our neighbor with the same measure of love.
I am grateful for my friends who encouraged me to seek counseling. I am grateful for the nudge from God to have the courage to pick up the phone and schedule that first appointment. And I’m grateful to my wife for not throwing in the towel before we were able to go and get the help we needed.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the complexities of the human heart. I feel like a big problem that I’ve observed is the lack of compassion and sensitivity to the fact that people are just that, people. What I mean by compassion and sensitivity is not the vague, over dramatic, disingenuous nonsense that any self respecting man is incapable of participating in. Rather, I am talking about the kind of genuine compassion that was shown by Christ himself. What would we think of Jesus if we read of him encountering troubled people and his responses to them were comments such as, “You know, your problem is just _____. If you would just _____, then you wouldn’t have that problem anymore.”? Jesus was the only man to ever live who truly possessed the right to say “if you would just do things my way it would all be better for you,” and yet that’s not the way he responds to people. When we make these types of comments to people about their situations we are often doing so out of arrogance and pride, whether we mean to or not. We are saying to that person that their problems are simple and easily handled, as if we could do so with no problem if faced with the same or similar situations. That is quite arrogant, and extremely presumptuous.
I’m completely preaching to the choir here. There have been so many times that I’ve looked at a person from a distance and judged them by insisting such things as, “they are just too dramatic,” or “they are just making things more difficult than they have to be.” Nearly every time I’ve done this I’ve later learned that there was more to that persons situation than I was aware of. Things are just not always that simple.
This post is not an attempt to suggest that we ought to excuse and overlook all types of behavior and choices. I’m not suggesting that one shouldn’t intervene in the lives of others who are struggling or have fallen off a cliff that leads to their ruin. If anything my suggestion is just the opposite. We should interact in one another’s lives during times of struggle with the same goal in mind that Jesus had, restoration. If our intentions and genuine desires are to see a hurting, struggling, suffering person fully restored in Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God and the joy of man, then by all means we should pursue them in love and humility.
This is my first post on my new blog…
My name is Josh.
I’m 25 years old, I’m married, and I have two children. I work for an Audio Visual company, and I’m also a student.
I’m a theologian - not in the sense that I’m known, or have been published and read. I’m simply a follower of Jesus who devotes time to learning about, or “studying” as the word implies, God. Theos- God, ology - the study of.
At twenty-five years old I don’t presume to have infinite amounts of wisdom and knowledge. I’m not the over-opinionated young guy living in my Mom’s basement creating a blog to criticize everyone and everything else.
I’ve created this blog as a place to express ideas and thoughts, and then hear back from whoever might care to dialog or share a little insight.
Thanks for taking time to read.
More to come…