The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It’s for you I created the universe. I love you. There’s only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you’ll reach out and take it. Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too.
The strength behind his words drew me in. My life felt so out of control, and more than anything else I wanted for someone to stop my mind from spinning.
What did I do wrong? Why couldn’t I handle the circumstances in my former church without falling apart? Was there an answer? Would I discover in this new church my worst fear was a reality and that the problem had really been me?
The pastor spoke about false prophets and teachers. He was educated, intelligent, and with an air of authority. He was well dressed, stood up straight and looked out over the congregation with a quiet confidence. He didn’t seem shifty or nervous or afraid. He was a born leader. And in all my uncertainty and doubt, I desperately wanted someone to follow.
Paul clearly advised not to place our hope in things that are seen, but rather in those things that are heavenly and unseen. All of creation is groaning for redemption from this broken world and so are we.
But even though I knew what these verses said, though they’d brought me to a saving knowledge of Christ, I still longed for someone, somewhere whom I could believe in and trust to follow, and this strong pastor seemed to be the obvious one.
For the majority of my life I have been self reliant. I didn’t want to ask others to help me. I much prefer to help others. I learned at an early age that I could not depend on my family to meet my emotional needs. They did not seem able to deal with their own emotions much less mine. Still it was obvious that I longed for a strong parental figure as I flipped through family photo albums wondering if maybe the mysterious woman walking down the beach with her dog that my mom had taken a photo of could have been my biological mother who gave me up for adoption immediately after birth. I dreamt about what it’d be like if I actually got to meet her. I wondered if she might be royalty living with kings, princes and queens; people who were strong, rich and had absolute authority.
Trauma had produced in me a desperate longing for someone besides me to be in control.
I think about what life must have been like before the fall. God created a perfect environment for Adam and Eve. A place where every need was met and where God and man lived together in perfect unity. But along came Satan, who was jealous of God and wanted to be in charge and tempted Eve with the fruit that would give her the ability to be like God.
Why wasn’t what she had enough? Why did her heart long for more than the perfection than she had? Why did she and Adam make the decision to disobey a perfect God who had given them a beautiful unbroken creation? Why was God being their God not enough? Why must we always long for more?
We humans don’t like living with unanswered questions. Even before the fall God being more wise obviously bothered Eve on some level or she would not have been deceived to taking a bite from the forbidden fruit.
Why is contentment so hard even in an environment where we have absolutely everything? Our longings for more bring us great harm. If only Adam and Eve had understood that there wasn’t anything more wonderful and wise than God.
I can’t be too hard on them, I, too, longed for more understanding than what God had given me. I was tired of sitting in unanswered questions. I was tired of waiting.
And when this pastor offered his poison fruit my teeth sunk right in giving me knowledge of things I’d have been better off not knowing.
Of course it was abusive. He was my pastor, my counselor and later my employer. Finally someone with authority had the ability to handle my emotional needs. I became dependent and lost sight of who I really was.
For once in my life I was no longer self sufficient, and the little girl who dreamt of castles and kings and queens desperately wanted to believe she’d found her home. But it wasn’t home, it was a place of even more confusion and uncertainty. A place where I was pathetically dependent on a fallen man to meet my needs. A place where I lost my self sufficiency and self worth.
I’d built a sandcastle on the sinking sand. As it washed slowly away over time, I was left to stare out over the ocean seeing that all my earthly dreams had died. I knew beyond the horizon in a place I could not see that there had to be more than the devastation I’d seen. I cried out to God, and He heard my cry and answered. I vowed from that day forward that He’d be the only hero I’d ever need.
Though trauma produced in me a desire for someone who was in control, God through His infinite wisdom and grace allowed me to see that no man is capable of this; not kings or queens, not princes or presidents, not parents, and especially not pastors. He is the only one with ultimate authority. But most importantly He is the only one totally and completely motivated by love.
We live in a crazy, chaotic world where beautiful and terrible things happen, where dreams die and expectations get crushed, and where people are not at all what they seem. But amid all this mess, we have a glorious God who’s building something beautiful that we are unable to see, and He’s putting together all the broken pieces of our lives into a work of glorious redemption. Our lives are not wasted, we nor the world around us are not broken beyond repair, because He is sovereign and He promises to bring perfection again.
In our hearts is a desperate longing for this goodness and this competed perfection, and I think unlike Adam and Eve who did not know what brokenness looked like, we will be able to appreciate the greatness of an unbroken world. Finally, we will find ultimate contentment being a part of His body and worshiping Him alone. We will look into the mirror and see things clearly. Our unseen hope will be seen in all its brilliance, and we will never yearn for anything more. We will be completed perfection and the reflection of His face will gaze lovingly back at us. Finally, we will be home.