Well, I’m glad I posted that last blog. It was worth the risk, because in putting my heart out there I was able to receive some of yours in return. Thanks to all who left a comment or contacted me in one way or another. It shows me I’m not alone; we’re not alone.
Here are a few of my takeaways from comments I received and discussions I had about my last post:
1) We all long for something more. Everyone seems to agree: no matter how close you are to Jesus, there is still a longing, an ache we carry. Paul says in Romans,
“And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us, as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.”
I think it’s important to identify this idea as part of the gospel. YES, Jesus died for our sins and came back to life, bringing reconciliation between God and people. YES, Jesus offers abundant life here on earth, not just in heaven. YES, we are called to suffer. NO, the story isn’t finished.
Often Western Christianity only paints half the picture… a bunch of animals on an ark, cute! Let’s tell the kids about this one. Oh wait, God regretted making humans and wanted to destroy them all? Let’s just skip to the rainbow, that’s pretty. What about that time Jonah was swallowed by a whale? So fun! (Or was it a whale? Who really cares!) And so on and so forth.
Jesus tells us he has come so we may have abundant life, but he also says “here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.” He conquered this world, but we are still waiting for that part of the story to unfold completely… your kingdom come, we pray.
This summer I started teaching evangelism at World Race Training Camps. This, in addition to my current season, has made me think a lot about how to communicate the gospel to someone who is unfamiliar with it. I’m still not sure where I stand entirely, besides the fact I disagree with The Donut Man theology. We need to acknowledge that pain and suffering are still a part of life with Jesus. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies.
This much I know: Jesus is worth it, and our hope in him and the life to come has to be big enough to sustain us during the life we are living now. For hope that is seen is no hope at all…
2) Certain seasons accentuate our longing. After hearing people’s stories (and comparing them to my own), it seems there are seasons or situations where our longing increases more than the average ache. I personally think it has to do with change. With change comes loss, and with loss, longing.
That’s how I view my current state of affairs. This year I went through a massive relational shift that resulted in great loss. I cried about it (again) to one of my mentors this morning. She challenged me to view it as something positive, not negative. I stared at her. Loss, loneliness, longing… are positive things? I needed more convincing.
Meaning I’m left with all this extra space in my life. This space feels like lack, which translates to loss and loneliness and longing. But this space is actually a place for God to provide more water than my original cup could ever hold. I’m just waiting on the fullness, the promise, to come to pass.
That does feel a little more positive. Pitcher half empty, yes, but hopeful nonetheless.
To those of you who obeyed God, who risked by getting out of the boat, who moved somewhere new, who chose change (and therefore loss), who are waiting and hoping and praying for more of God to fill your empty spaces… this is also for you.
Our time is coming.