Monday, September 29, 2014

Trying To Understand The Inexplicable

Nothing can quite prepare you for life.

The ups and downs.

The sorrow and pain.

There is a lot that we don't understand, and maybe never will in this life.

And perhaps it's mainly in part because unlike God, we do not have access to see the "big picture."  What would we, mere mortals, think if we could see our life play out from start to finish, experiencing things that only make sense to us?  When something bad happens, is it possible that it happens because it is actually going to be better than what the alternative could have been?

We will never live a perfect life on this earth.

There will always be pain.

There is nothing certain in life they say, except death and taxes.  I'd add on that the only things certain in life are these:  death, taxes, and the faithfulness of God.  We can be certain of that, even on the days when we want to blame him for every thing that goes wrong in our lives.

The God I serve is good, yes.  But he is also a disciplining and knowledgeable Father, who allows us to experience life.  Whether it be the loss of a loved one unexpectedly, a terminal illness, or other uncontrollable event.  He also allows us, sometimes, to experiences the consequences of our sins.  He doesn't punish us though.

I think that many times we misunderstand his discipline for punishment.  Or we see bad things that happen in our lives and we tend to think, "God must be punishing me."

If you believe that about your life or your circumstances, I would propose that you don't fully understand the God of the Bible.  God isn't out there to "get us."  He doesn't just sit there watching us screw up and then say, "Enough is enough-you will now be punished."

Do you know what he does do?  I believe He does, in some instances, step in and say "Enough is enough."  BUT, there's a much softer side of God that usually accompanies that.  The side of a parent who sees a hurting child and is so filled with love and compassion that he wants nothing more than to wrap up in his arms, until we're ready to face life and whatever challenges it may throw at us.

I think this is what I didn't understand for so many years.  I had this picture of God, that he saw my sin and he could, at any moment, put a stop to it.  But that he chose not to.  I didn't know why, but he allowed me to keep running from him, when it was well within his power to put an end to it.  But I am not God, and while I can look at my life and think, "Well, why did you allow this?" or "Why didn't you stop me sooner?" - those are really ridiculous questions.

And it isn't because my God is distant and doesn't interact with me, thus he doesn't care to stop my suffering, even if (especially if) done at my own hand.  It isn't because he is too busy dealing with the other 7 billion people on the earth.

Sometimes he doesn't step in because I think he sees ahead.  He sees the good that can come, or sometimes the bad, and he allows situations to run their course.  Everything comes to an end.  Joy and sorrow.  Good and bad.  Life and death.  And God is really the only one who can see the future and knows what will be best for my life and what needs to happen in order for all the right things to fall into place.

I think of this a lot when I think of the age my kids were when everything fell apart between me and Kris.  What impact would our story have on them as infants?  We could tell them how God changed us as they grew up and they would see parents living differently, a marriage healthier from the beginning of their young lives.  But what if God knew, not just what Kris and I needed, but what each of our kids would need to witness in order to strengthen their own faith in him?

What my kids believe about God is important to me.  But of far more importance is that they develop their own faith and not that they just believe because I tell them they should.  That is why it is so significant to me that Katherine said she knows God is real because she witnessed him take me from a broken, depressed, emotionally withdrawn mother - to a work in progress, healing and learning to be joyful, emotionally connected to her children.  If there were no other blessings out of the tragedy of my story and my own personal train wreck, to me, that alone is enough for me to say, "I am grateful for God's timing and that God allowed me to carry on in my own sin and selfishness for so long."

Don't get me wrong.  I will always regret my mistakes.  I will always remember the pain that I caused to others and how it impacted and hurt others.  But because I cannot change what happened, and because I cannot even begin to desire God to take away the faith he has built up in Katherine, I look back at who I was, the person I used to be, and I have a hard time saying that I would change it.  Given an opportunity, I would love to "un-hurt" the people I devastated.  But looking at the big picture, seeing all the miracles God has performed and the good that has come from sharing my testimony with other hurting women, how could I ask him to change it?  How could I wish it had turned out differently?

Kris and I wouldn't trade where we are today for anything.  What we have learned and are still learning through the tragedy of our story and the mess we made of our marriage far outweighs all the pain and sadness our train wreck brought with it.  I am not saying that in the same scenario I'd make all the same choices.  I would hope that my mistakes and all God is teaching me has equipped me to make better choices in the future.  But when I look back at 25 year old Jamie, I can't beg her not to cross that line.  Some would say, "But, for the sake of your husband and children, wouldn't it be better if you had chosen a different path?"

That is an unanswerable question.  I wasn't mature enough at the time to deal with my life or equipped to cope with what life handed me.  The fact of the matter is that if given a chance to do it all over again, there is no guarantee that I wouldn't turn to a life of addiction in some other form, because I was not equipped to cope with the magnitude of the problems that surrounded me at the time.  I needed to go through all of this, in order to learn how deeply and profoundly God loves me.  How he pursues me.  How he desires to have my whole heart and not just a piece of it.  How he wants me to rely on him when I am weak and feeling unloved or unworthy.  I can't imagine learning those things any other way than how I did.

So now, instead of questioning "Why are you allowing this, God?" my heart has softened and the question becomes one of wonder.  How God?  Why?  Why me?  Why bless me this much?  Why reveal yourself to me so tenderly and so intimately?  Because like the Apostle Paul, I felt like the worst of sinners.  The punishment I deserved was severe.  There was a cost associated with my sin and my mistakes.  And now that I understand just how much God loves me, I am amazed and astounded at how much God loves me, to the point that I understand what Lauren Daigle is really saying when she asks, "How Can It Be?"

This song has come to mean so much to me these last few weeks.  The lyrics are so powerful and touch my heart very deeply.

Because I know what it is like to have dirty hands and feel like I am unworthy of even lifting them up to God.  Of showing him the mess that I made of my life.  I doubted that God could love me.  I doubted it to the very core of my being.  But once I tore those walls down, once I truly understood that the punishment I deserved took place when Jesus was nailed to that cross, that HE bears the scars that I deserved, I find myself in this same spot of being amazed by God and asking "How can it be?"  And you know what?  I don't need him to tell me the how of it.  Because I just believe.

He pleads my cause.

He rights my wrongs.

He breaks my chains.

He overcomes.

He gave his life

To give me mine.

He says that I am free.

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