029. Art of Living Like a Song

I find that the older I get, the more trouble I have. It’s an interesting conundrum, to be sure; having knowledge of where you’re failing and what you’re aiming at. I could’ve only hoped in my youth that I would’ve had this expectant nature of knowing what it is that I am aiming at, but nonetheless I find myself both satisfied and dissatisfied with my performance under these pretenses.

There’s this song with a chorus that goes, “until I die I sing these songs on the shore of Babylon…” I pull a lot of meaning from this, but I’d anticipate I’m fairly close to the author’s original intent for the lyrics. I have a limited time here on earth (relatively) and I have a calling and that calling is to point to the beauty of Christ. Everything I do should be in service to that. I’d like to think that everything I do is in service to that; even and especially what I do outside the church. When I was growing up, I would’ve assumed that any job outside of working as a missionary, pastor, or church employee was “working for Pharoah” (as one of the volunteers always phrased it). And now that I’ve spent the better part of my life doing just that (working outside the church), I’d have to say that I prefer being here working where people need to know more real Christians. So often, in my 15 years, I’ve noticed the amount of hurt and harm “the church” has done to people outside of itself and it’s caused much animosity between people and Jesus. This is not our calling; this was not our purpose! We are supposed to be the hands and feet of Jesus and instead we’ve become the gavel, accuser, and jury! Whatever will people know of His beauty and grace if all they hear is judgement?! I’d think the calling to be simple, but not easy: be yourself where the people are. Explain the struggles you have in your humanity… Share each other’s burdens…Speak truth…Be real.

And being real doesn’t come with a “but.” It’s not an, “I love you, Jesus loves you, but…’your sin’.” It’s an, “I love you, Jesus loves you.” Period. End of story. No judgement. The people we encounter nowadays are well-aware of what the church is against, but no one is knowledgable about what the church is for. It is in that tension that I find myself living my life as it is: asking the questions, doubting the doubts, loving the people.

This tension, as I call it, allows me to get out of the way and let Jesus be Jesus to the people. Does this make me or my methods perfect? No, absolutely not…far from it in fact. However, I find that people who see me dealing with my shit feel permission to also deal with their shit. To question the God of the universe without repercussion; be the Doubting Thomas who needs to feel the holes in Christ’s hands to believe; to not rely solely on their faith all the time. It is precisely that place that I find myself (and most people I interact with) in; and in that authenticity, I have every intention of point to Jesus as the solver of those issues. It’s infallible logic to me that the Jesus I know to love people where they’re at will love people in their questions, in their doubts, and without faith; in their presence where they are. In our questions (as He was in Job’s story): He is there with questions. In our doubts: He is there with His hands open to our inspection (as He was with Thomas). In our lack of faith: He stands in the fire with us (as he does for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego). He is God. WITH. Us.

It is what enables me to ask where the hell God was in my dad’s death, my illness, and my mom’s diagnosis and rapid decline. Without this knowledge of the character of Christ, I would find myself in my own tension of not living in the grace and beauty of Jesus! Jesus is not a benevolent dictator merely providing grace; He provides us access to the God of the universe. Not mitigating circumstances, but fulfilling the justice required of our condition and walking with us in our sorrow and pain. It is that pain and sorrow that shows us conclusively how beautiful He really is and how we can be that beauty to the entire world; start to finish and without qualification.

My friends, wherever you are at in your lives; be it questioning Him, doubting His goodness, or lacking faith that He even exists, allow my sorrow to be the song I sing on these shores of Babylon: Jesus is real. He is really with you. He is really FOR you. Jesus doesn’t cast judgement and condemnation; Jesus is God’s love personified. And while this world and the church and the people within it (even and especially me at times) don’t give Him the proper introduction or voice or action, please know that where you are questioning, there He is; where you are doubting, there He is; where you are angry, there He is; where you are loving, there He is; where you are lacking faith, there He is…wherever you find yourself, there He is…patiently accepting you as you are and where you are. Jesus is beautiful.


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