Advent and Angst

I wrote this one three years ago today. I was going through an awkwardly angsty phase, and this post reflects that. I have come a long way since then, and wouldn’t write this post this way again. That said, I decided not to edit it, but to let it be what it is-a journal entry from a kid trying to figure out how to trust Jesus with deep questions and struggles. And here’s the thing: Jesus is up to that level of trust. Things actually got worse after this, but Jesus was faithful:”You listened and pulled me from a lonely pit full of mud and mire. You let me stand on a rock with my feet firm, and you gave me a new song, a song of praise to you.” So here it is. Merry Christmas!

Our world is really wrong. We all know it. It’s the polluted air we breathe. It’s wars, and false peaces. It’s hate and the pitiful counterfeits of love we accept. It’s Amish school shootings. It’s child molestation. It’s shootings in a mall the day before Christmas. It’s AIDS. It’s cancer taking the lives of so many, and so indiscriminately. It’s the depression that strikes so many of us, and the ways the rest of us mishandle that particular disease. It’s death. It’s life that isn’t life. And it’s me. It’s the fumbling way I love people. It’s the way I feel, at my deepest and darkest, that I have the right NOT to love certain people. It’s the way I allow myself to look at ANY other person, and look down on them, as if I have anything that wasn’t given to me. It’s that homeless guy I didn’t feed. It’s the way I don’t have time for certain people. It’s the way that, as much as I’d like to pretend otherwise, I sit at the center of my own little universe as I look out at the world. It’s the way I shake my fist at heaven when things go wrong. The way I blame God, my upbringing, my circumstances, anything but me for my problems.

And now it’s Christmas time. Woot. I think if some sappy moron in a Santa hat came up and hugged me right now I might beat him. These past three months have been the most difficult of my life. I’ve gone through a good deal of pain. People I love have died; people I love have moved far away, people I love have decided they are through with me. I’ve been mad at God. I deserve better, I tell Him. He seems far away, unconcerned, and cruel. The world should not be so unfair. I should not be so broken. He keeps doing things that I wouldn’t do if I were Him.

This, oddly enough, is why I’m celebrating Christmas this year. Because my world is really wrong. Because God keeps doing things I don’t like. And because Christmas means He didn’t leave me here alone. He’s been here. He has worn our skin and walked our streets and breathed our air. He has felt the curse that tears at us, turns us into sad parodies of what we were made for. He has fought to fix things, to make them, to make us, whole again. He has chosen to take the brunt of this world’s brokenness on Himself. I am reminded that I would not have done this were I God. I would have left us alone with our depravity. But God keeps doing things I wouldn’t were I Him. He keeps giving me better than what I deserve. This isn’t sappy Christmas drivel. This is God proving once and for all that he understands me. He knows. And He’s there. Jesus revealed God to us by being God amongst us. And God is good.

“and while we yet were sinners, christ died for us. he did not leave us alone. he stepped into our condition to bring us back to god. to bring us back to what was intended. the divine, bearing all depravity. the most horrific of collisions. the most tragic and beautiful. the breaking is glorious and loud. we have won. it might not feel like it. you might not can see it just yet. but the reality of our situation is that rescue is present. every second of life is spent in the very presence of god. there is not a second of human history that he has not been present. majesty is here. and it is coming. finally. just be quiet. and wait.”

-David Crowder

One final thought, from “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” by Longfellow:

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

And there is hope. May you and yours have a merry Christmas in the knowledge that though things are wrong, God has come, is coming back, and they will be right again.

God bless you,

Doug

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