February 16, 2018

“This is not a drill. Barricade doors and windows.” said a text alert yesterday from the community college where I teach. I wasn’t on campus, and started praying for those who were.  Thankfully, we got word a few hours later that the call of “shots fired on campus” was never confirmed.

As I thought about what a dangerous world it is, and about how we never know when our particular journey will end, whether we will pass away peacefully in our sleep full of years or die in a car crash tomorrow, I asked myself some serious questions.

Am I ready for death?

There have been times of deep grief in my life when I thought I would welcome death, but I’m in a more hopeful and healed place in my life.  I don’t want to die soon, but I’m absolutely ready to meet who’s waiting for me. I have hope that all the love and belonging, peace and security missing in this world will be realized. Tough questions like “Why does God let pain happen?” and “Why does life seem so unfair?” will have clear answers.

Do I have regrets?

I’ve tried to share my gifts,  time,  compassion, mistakes, and grief. It hasn’t been easy. Still, I haven’t been very brave in sharing my very best gift I’ve been given. It’s hope. Hope for this life, and hope for eternity.

I could be wrong.  I could be deceived.  There might not be a God at all. I can’t prove it in a way that would satisfy most people. Even if I could, many would choose not to believe.

What I do know for sure is that the more I cry out to God and tell him how my heart is broken, the more I can feel his comfort.

I’m so sorry if my brothers and sisters and I have made you feel that we think we’re better than you. That’s bad news and we are the ones who claim to have Good News (gospel). The gospel is we all fall down, and believers let God pick us up when we do. At least we try to let him.

I’m also sorry if you got the message that Christianity means: “If you do more good things than bad things, you go to Heaven.” That’s not the Good News. That’s just normal life in the normal system: Karma, if you work hard you’ll get ahead, try harder to be loved and accepted, give more to get more, etc.

The Good News is actually GOOD news.  It starts with you accepting that the one who created everything including you gave you a choice, but longs for you to belong to His Kingdom. You can belong to a family, you are fully loved, approved of, delighted in, accepted as you are. We’re all part of a broken world.  We’re all dirty from our own dirt and/or contaminated by the dirt of others. There is a Good Parent who created you to be specifically you. He is perfect, and his Son Jesus is perfect, yet while we were still dirty, broken, messed up, Jesus laid down his life, taking all of our hurt and dirt and shame on Himself to wash us clean and make us free.  This was a reflection of the Jewish sacrifice of a spotless lamb to gain forgiveness for sins and had to be done regularly.

Jesus was that spotless lamb who died once for all sins of mankind past, present, and future. He didn’t stay dead, though.  He came back to life after being killed on a cross.  He wants us to figuratively follow Him in this.  To die to the old approval-hungry, shame-filled, self and to rise to life a new person.  Not a perfect person, but a person completely forgiven and ready to surrender to wholeness by starting a relationship with God. He has a plan for you. He will take your vilest crap and turn it into rich compost for a beautiful garden.

I admit this seems strange and dramatic from a strictly logical 2018 perspective, especially at a time when we (myself included) don’t exactly think of ourselves as sinners or bad people. Maybe you can’t think of anything that bad you have done. I mean, we’re all just doing the best we can. But, do you experience unexplained shame, heartbreak, hurt at the hand of those closest to you, the need to get approval of others at any cost, the inability to make relationships last and grow, the avoidance of grief or vulnerability? I can say yes to all those things and more!

That’s the stuff God wants to heal you and I from!  He wants you to find your identity, healing, and comfort  in being His beloved child instead. Sometimes the healing is  immediate, and sometimes it’s a slow crawl, but I can say that I have hope because I’m becoming free from all those things that try to tell me that I don’t measure up.  You and I can ask God directly “Who am I to you? and what am I worth?”  I dare you. It’s good news.

I’m open to discussions about this with no judgment.  If you’re looking for a debate, I’m not a debater, but I am happy to listen and answer questions-even ones that are just asked to satisfy curiosity.