On a search for a better world, finding it in the most unlikely places
Tonight, I am waiting to see one of our CCI teams off on another cross-country trek. While I was waiting, I decided to do what everyone with countless details and conflicts, dreams and demands should do – I ran. I ran – harder and farther than I have in a long time. I ran to the edge of exhaustion, and I pushed myself farther and farther into the sweat and the pain. My calves burning, knees begging for relief, drenched in sweat and straining, I ran past the mental marker denoting the edge of my previous jogging forays. I felt sick, worn out, used up. Done.
Life’s like that. You work. You try. Hard. Harder. You psych yourself up, only to see your dreams struck down – again and again. Every fiber of your being cries out for something, begs for relief…but there is no hope, at least none that you can see. In the words of songwriter Jon Foreman: “You’re pushing ’til you’re shoving – you bend until you break, ’til you stand on the broken fields where our fathers lay.” The very difficulty of the living takes the life out of you. Raise your hand if you have felt this way… and if your hand isn’t up, it’s likely haven’t lived long enough. I wonder how many of us spend our days locked in the solitary confinement of desperation, feeling abandoned, discarded, wondering where the life is in life.
Back to my run. As I pushed my protesting body over the pavement, I did so with certainty of what awaited me at the end of the run. A lovely blend of Hydrogen and Oxygen commonly known as “water”, a soft bed…rest…my wife and baby girl…I would forget the pain of the last half-hour in the bliss of the AC. I had hope. now, back to life.
The real tragedy of Christianity in our time, the one that the clergy-charlatans and theologians alike miss, is that everyday, ordinary, hopeless and desperate people can spend their whole lives in contact with church-attendees and pretend preachers on TV and never know that there is hope. Because beyond whether Rob Bell, or John Piper, or Mark Driscoll is right about Jesus (and for two of those, I certainly hope not), there is one thing I know to be absolutely true about the message of Jesus: God wants you to know that you are not alone. His desire for you to know this was so great, that His very blood screamed the message from bloody timbers. You are not alone. There is hope. God himself has come for you. Bled for you. There is hope. Not the ethereal hope of Utopian myth, not the soulless hope of modern mechanics, but the keen-edged hope of the Creator who promises that one day, the scales will be balanced and love will win. Justice will meet Mercy, and Creation will be renewed. Heaven and Earth, together again.
This is my hope. Not just because I believe it is coming, but because I have heard the rumblings of what is to come. Every time love wins out over violence, we glimpse the world-to-come. Every time forgiveness is chosen over retribution, the skies crack and heaven shines through. Every time I fall down and ruin everything and find myself set back on my feet, I hear the whispered promise that things have begun to go right. For all of us, atheist and preachers, devout and outcast, alone and forgotten, or well-loved and popular. There is hope…