Thursday, January 17, 2013
Something Is Wrong
Right now in my life, I feel as close to God as I ever have. So often, I can feel His presence; I can sense His thoughts. There is pain; there is suffering; there is loneliness sometimes in my life, but it all seems so right. It all seems to make sense. But it wasn’t that way always in my life. There was a time when I was doing many of the same things I am doing now, but had different results. Many friends wouldn’t notice any difference. They might say “he’s still the same great guy he was.” But they wouldn’t know the truth. The truth was, that at a point in my life, a great change came.
“Something is wrong with my life.” Those are the words that you must speak, with all honesty and with resignation, if you wish to change your life. You’ve got to say: “Something is wrong, and I can’t fix it” --- with a heavy emphasis on the “I.” I had to speak those words.
I’ve learned (the hard way) much about the purpose of my life since then: it is to live it as the One Who created it made me to be. I tried living it my way, for many years. I had great plans; great executions; poor outcomes.
If I were to build a model train, I expect that it would run on tracks. If I were to build a sailboat, I’d expect it to float on water. If you were to put the train I built in the water, it would just sink, because it wasn’t made to float. I’d tell you: “If you want it to work right, most efficiently, you’ll have to use it the way I built it to be used.”
God says those same words to us about our life.
The problem so many of us have is that we are like my model train, but a train with an independence streak. Perhaps we might choose to be bumping along on the concrete of the driveway: “Look! I’m moving forward; I’m making progress,” we might say. But silly us: we’ll never get to the station that way! So many of us are wise and even powerful --- perhaps a huge locomotive is a better image of ourselves than a toy train. When we move forward, things are pushed out of our way, or crushed. What we want and where we want to go --- it seems nothing can stop us. We don’t think of ourselves as some monster (or sinner); we’re just moving forward, trying to do what we think is right, but there reaches a point in the life of almost every sane person (when he realizes he doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere) and he says: “Why am I doing this?” “Why” is a most profound question. Even the most firm atheists who believe in nothing but science --- “Prove to me that God exists” --- at some point they look around at all they’ve proved, all the facts and all the figures, and all the things they hold, and say: “All these are truths I can understand, but why?”
Why is pi equal to 3.1459? Why are all the other numbers and facts which describe things and life so constant? Why do they fit together so perfectly to create the earth and us? Is it all random choice? Why isn’t pi equal to .84 tomorrow, and 2.1 the next day? Why?
Why do I love my children like no one else’s? Why, if I do everything I think is right, does my life seem wrong? Why am I not happy?
All the money, all the food, all the excitement, all the sex, none of the pain --- what if you could have it all, never to have to strive or want it again: Would you be happy? I think we all know hundreds of examples of people who we would consider have it all, and we see they are not happy. So what would make them happy? As we lead the little engine of our life down our bumpy road, or slowly in our soft sand, where do we think we are going --- and what do we expect to see when we get there? If all the things we typically strive for won’t get us happiness, what will?
Myself, I’ve found happiness and joy in trying to do God’s will, but my discovery wasn’t easy. Early in life I thought myself as that model train; I could go wherever I want and get anything I wanted. As my dad said to me: “You can get anything you want, if you work for it.” And so I worked, hard. And all the things I wanted (and I wasn’t greedy, I didn’t want much), and all the things I thought I should have, I got. Until I reached that point in my life, when I looked around, saw I wasn’t happy, and said: “Something is wrong in my life, and I can’t seem to fix it.”
Finding happiness in my life started when I admitted I wasn’t happy, and I couldn’t seem to do anything about it. That’s when I finally turned to God. That’s when I finally said: “You lead; I’ve done a lousy job of it so far.” And I found something which at first seemed amazing: He knew where to go! And so I followed.
If I would have thought more about God earlier in my life I could have figured out this needed change in my direction. But I thought I could reach a point of happiness on my own --- I thought: “Who knows what makes me happy better than me?” If I would have REALLY thought about it though, I’d have realized there IS a guy who knows better: it is the Guy who created me; He knows what would make me happy --- even better than me. How stupid of me to think me otherwise.
Like the toy train, I was made in a certain way, to run on certain tracks, to get to a certain destination. I can detour off the tracks in front of me in any which way I want --- and boy, did I detour a lot in my life. But if I wanted to get to the station, if I wanted to be as happy as He made me to be, I needed to be who He made me to be.
It is a hard lesson, a humbling one that’s hard to accept, to admit that we don’t know what is best for ourselves. And that there is a God who loves us even more than we love ourselves; He taught us how to love.
He IS Love.
And I used to think I knew everything.