Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Too Good to be True

As they were talking about these things, Jesus Himself stood among them, and said to them, "Peace to you!" But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch Me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, He said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" They gave Him a piece of broiled fish, and He took it and ate before them.

Luke 24:36-43

I am often tempted to take a rather dark view of the world. I am often inclined to take my sorrows more seriously than my joys, as if the one were the real thing, the tangible reality, and the other were ephemeral and incorporeal.

But does sorrow actually have more real substance than joy? 

In this scene following the resurrection of Jesus, the disciples were incredulous. Was Jesus really standing before them? Was He a spirit? Should they be worried instead of rejoicing? And His response was: Touch Me. I am flesh and bone. I am real.

I read all the stories of His betrayal and suffering and crucifixion in each Gospel one after the other, and appreciated them for the real Sorrow and the real Pain that they show, because it is a comfort to me to see these parts of what it is to be human acknowledged by God and shared by Christ. Which is a good and right comfort. But then I read all the stories of His resurrection, and I was convicted about my tendency to focus on those parts of life and forget the others--forget how much I have to be thankful for.

Mind you, I am not saying that sorrow is not also real and tangible, only that Joy is quite as real. That, in a sense, there's no such thing as too good to be true. Because of the Good that is True and gives Joy. Because God.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"--yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.

James 4:13-16

I like making plans. I prefer to have a plan whenever possible, and I prefer things to go according to that plan. Obviously, it doesn't always work out that way.

I am currently approaching a big shift in my life, a major lifestyle change, the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. It's not actually happening for six months, but I'm thinking about it a lot and trying to figure out what exactly it is that I'm going to do next. At first, I was really terrified, because I was drifting without ideas. Now, I'm still nervous about the change, and I still have a lot of thinking to do, but I have some ideas, at least, which is nice. Interestingly enough, the having of the ideas was chronologically preceded by being more at peace with not being sure yet, with not knowing, with not having a plan.

During all this thinking and planning, I had a birthday that sounded like a significant number to me. It sounded so grown up, and I'm pretty sure that I used to think that by the time I reached the age I am now I would have things a lot more figured out than I actually do yet. That made it even harder to be OK with being confused and planless, but I've started being OK with it.

See, I used to think that by the age I am now I would need to be "set" on some particular path that I would then just Follow For the Rest of My Life. Well, I'm not set. And that's making me think that I actually have more time to figure things out than I thought I did, or that maybe I'm not ever going to figure it all out, that it's always going to be a journey, an experiment, an adventure.

It's OK if I don't know what the Big Plan is. I just need to find the next step, and keep asking God to show me where His will is for me right now. Not ten years from now or two years from now, but right now.