Here are somethings that make me want to throw up: The flu. The anxiety. Winter. House-building. Sick children. Seeing the trash can roll around in the wind at the end of the driveway. Watching Flicka 3 (kill me now). Cooking spaghetti when it turns out I wasn’t really in the mood for spaghetti after all.
January always gets me down, you guys.
Here’s what all the popular kids do lately:
Work out. Eat paleo. Volunteer. Read real books. Be awesome at your job. Be awesome at your home. Be all things to all people at all times. And don’t get sick.
I’m only barely scraping the surface of our already ridiculous to-do lists. We have an awful lot of responsibilities and it’s the most important ones that make me feel like I am failing at life:
Read the Bible at 5:30 a.m. Memorize scripture. Watch out for the devil because he’s prowling like a lion, but don’t worry about anything because God takes care of birds. Be joyful about everything and have faith because God does miracles all the time. Don’t be selfish. Love everyone but don’t tolerate what is evil. Fight the good fight. Tell everyone about Jesus. Act like Jesus. Talk like Jesus. Think like Jesus. Be like Jesus.
That whole be like Jesus thing is giving me fits. If I had read that requirement in the Bible before signing on to be a Christian, I would have given up before I even started. No one can do that ever in their own power, and not even with the help of the Holy Spirit can they do it perfectly and all the time. I cannot even comprehend Jesus’s patience with all the knuckleheads he encountered on a daily basis, and in my wildest dreams I cannot imagine even attempting to do the same thing, especially on days when I am crying out to God myself for peace and understanding. That doesn’t mean I will just give up on trying to do the things that God wants of me, but I’m human and TRUESTORY: it’s hard.
And I gotta say: I don’t get the prosperity gospel. According to my facebook feed, a good quarter of my friends are planning on 2014 being super-duper in every way, “claiming” everything from houses and cars to scholarships and lottery winnings just falling into their laps by the end of December.
If claiming it worked in such a way, starving people in third-world countries would have food in their bellies. Homeless veterans would have a roof over their heads. Childless couples would have babies pouring out of every room. People dying from cancer wouldn’t be paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for healthcare because they could be cured overnight by drinking organic pomegranate tea or some junk.
I know miracles happen. And I know that the world is not perfect and it’s just not our home. But I also know that there are certain things we most certainly can claim: God promises us peace in this life when we follow him. He does not, however, promise us nice cars and expensive watches and dream-houses in which to watch “Good Burger” over and over on Netflix.
He also doesn’t promise that we’ll be the picture of perfect health. He doesn’t even guarantee us that we’ll have food and shelter and physical safety at all times. In fact, Jesus said kind of the opposite:
As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.”And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” –Luke 9:57-58
And then again here:
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.…” –Matthew 16:24-25
There’s a cost associated with following Jesus and it really should be so much more than the measly sacrifices most of us don’t even make.
If Jesus was undercover among us right now, do you think he’d be hanging out with all the people driving BMWs and wearing blingy jewelry because they “clearly” have the most faith?
Forget comfort. Forget everything that the rest of the world deems important. I can picture a modern-day version of that bible excerpt:
“But Jesus,” said the lady, “Let me first have my own babies and then I will adopt all the orphans like you said,” And Jesus said to her, “Giada has marble counter-tops and her own line of kitchen knives, but the Son of Man has no good place to chop fresh garlic, because I’m too busy sharing a meal out of the trash with this homeless child, yo.”
I may not own a fancy car but there’s a crap ton of stuff I think Jesus would totally call me out on.
For now I think I will focus on this: pointing to and praising God through all my failures and successes; through sickness and health, and through my victories and disappointments. Whatever happens to me and my family, let it all go to glorify God. And I will go ahead and claim a little something while I’m at it: God will give us the courage and the strength and the calmness to make it through whatever He has planned for us this year.