While looking back over the posts I've written here, I was struck with this thought,
"What a bunch of silliness. If only I could keep the big picture in mind."
I had a conversation with a friend today about the inevitable questions that arise when we look at evil in the world. "Where is God and why is He allowing all of this?"
In the dark times of my past, I did have to wonder a bit on the reality of God. Where is He? Why isn't He helping? Why can't I see Him working? Why am I not convinced of His love? The answers were few and far between, but they came. I still struggle with a lot of questions, but I've been realizing something that is a challenge to me. That is, had I seen the love of God exemplified in the lives of people who claimed to know and believe in Him, I may have believed more fully in Him and myself. If people would have taken time for me and loved me unconditionally, I'm sure I would have found that contagious, maybe even tangible proof that God still had room for me, just as his people did. Instead I experienced people basically walking away, confused as to how my life could be such a mess, leaving me to believe that must be how God felt about me too.
I am in no way saying that the mistakes I made can be blamed on other people. I just wonder how different things would have been if I didn't feel that people's disregard for me meant I was not valuable. Because what ended up happening was that I lived out what I thought I was worth. And I thought I wasn't worth anyone's time, patience or understanding.
There is a messed up, crazy world out there that appears to have been abandoned. But I wonder, are we abandoned by God at all? Or have we simply abandoned each other, leaving most people feeling so unloved, that they lose faith in a loving God? As Gary Haugen of International Justice Mission says, "it's not a matter of asking where God is, but rather, where are God's people?"
I feel challenged by these thoughts because I forget to do selfless and loving things for someone else. Even just something small, keeping a hurting person or place in mind and doing something to help them see that someone remembers them, and considers them valuable. I get wrapped up in my own life and I simply don't take time to do what matters most.
"...the one thing, on which we can all agree, among all faiths and ideologies, is that God is with the vulnerable and the poor...God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house...God is in the debris of wasted opportunities and lives, and God is with us if we are with them." -- Bono
We may see the reality of God more clearly if we would rise to the challenge of fighting for justice in our messed up world, exemplifying God's true nature. To love even the most frustrating of people. What if we did that? If we let someone who feels lost into our lives and hearts, loving them fully? What if we didn't expect someone to change overnight and put aside all their old habits and ways? What if we simply loved them, and taught them about God's unfailing love for them? I wonder if all the baggage they carry would fall away in the face of a radical acceptance they never knew could exist.
If we could do that, I have doubts that we would need to ask the questions we struggle with. We would be seeing God in action through His people, unable to say that He has abandoned us. In reality, more than likely, we would probaby have to admit that we had abandoned each other.
There are a lot of people who live out exactly what I'm talking about. I simply want to be more like them. I simly wish there were more people like them. They are true saints. That word can be used so flippantly, but the word brings to mind the idea of someone fighting to love people, disregarding themselves and focusing on the needs of others.
Sara Groves says it for me, "...and when the saints go marching in. I want to be one of them."
I'll keep working on it.