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. Praying that no one would get hurt.  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 right now.  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?” will have clear answers.

Do I have regrets?

I’ve tried to share my gifts, my time, my compassion, my mistakes to learn from, my grief to relate to. 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 not the 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 gospel. 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.

The Good News is actually GOOD news.  It starts with you belonging. You belong, 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. He has a plan for you.

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 bad you have done, I mean, we’ll all doing the best we can. But, do you experience unexplained shame, 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 free you and I from!  He wants you to know you don’t need  to waste energy on any of that because you can find your identity in being His beloved child instead. Sometimes it’s 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. It’s good news.

Are you ready to accept that God loves you and wants to free you?  You belong in his family, my family.  My painting, art trips, teaching is just fluff compared to the real hope I have found. Contact me, and I’ll get back to you about this.