I have shied away from talking about engaging God since I started this whole blog experience. It's pretty easy to explain why. It's terrifying.
Engaging God is terrifying, but we all have to do it anyway. Admitting publicly that I have really experienced God is awkward, but awkward doesn't seem to stop me often. Trying to find words to capture the experience, though, is utterly daunting. I'd rather write a whole post about how hard it is to write a post about engaging God, than to actually write the post I know I should.
So, let it be known that this is hard, but I hope it's a living experience.
Carrie Underwood sings (and maybe wrote, I never know) Jesus Take the Wheel.
Here's a part from the middle with the chorus.
She was sooo scared
She threw her hands up in the air
Jesus take the wheel
Take it from my hands
Cause I can't do this on my own
I'm letting go
So give me one more chance
To save me from this road I'm on
Jesus take the wheel
There are a lot of details to complain about in this song, but I go verklempt every time I sing it anyway. I can't tell you how many times I've been so scared I just threw my hands up and hoped Jesus would steer, so scared I froze with my arms wrapped around my head while I hurtled toward an oncoming bus.
Jesus never took the wheel.
My God let me crash.
He does that.
In the stories everyone tells, it's like God is playing chicken with Satan, and Satan's driving a bus. He lets our little car keep speeding up, and keep guiding toward that bus, until it seems like it's impossible to find a happy ending. The tension is so thick you could cut it with butter, and nobody can see a way out. Life about to crush us, and then bingo! The miracle comes. God waited until the last possible moment to steer us clear of Satan's devices.
It didn't work that way for Jesus, and I don't find it works that way for me.
No, I am not talking about our Lord's death and resurrection. I am talking about the temptation in the wilderness. I am talking about Jesus standing on the hill overlooking Jerusalem, longing for His people to turn back and love Him. I'm talking about Jesus abandoned in prayer by His friends, in the dark by all His disciples, and in broad daylight by His entire nation.
It didn't work that way for Paul. Paul, who was beaten time and again for having the gall to spend his life destroying his body traveling between churches. Paul, who gave his last testimony alone because his brothers turned aside from him. Paul who died at the hands of his enemies with so much work left to do.
God may play chicken with Satan, but if He does, He sure decides not to steer away an awful lot.
And it's our hearts that are broken in the crash.
Well the obvious and real reason is that I made mistakes. Every scar I bear is my own fault. Nobody did anything to me that I didn't call down on myself to one degree or another. The claim to holiness was reserved to Job.
But, I prayed for wisdom, and I meant it. I prayed for guidance, and hedges and that His will would be done, not mine. None of it worked. I still crashed.
Another real reason is sin. Sin works in me, warring against law of my mind, causing me to do that which I would not. Sin works in the flesh of my brothers and sisters, and those who don't know the Lord. Satan works too. If it were not for sin and Satan, that bus would never be headed in my direction, and I could never have crashed. There would have been nothing to hit.
But even so, God could turn them aside, and He doesn't. For some, especially privileged people, God even gives Satan a free hand.
Not, "Why did this happen to me?" but, "Why didn't God take the wheel?" "Why didn't God send someone into my life with that one little clue that would have changed everything?" Not, "Why me?" but, "Why didn't God ...?"
No, I don't know the answer.
I don't know why God didn't take the wheel in my life.
I have learned a little something about it, though.
I have learned that He is not scared.
I am terrified, but He has complete confidence in me. That is an other-worldly, unimaginable, insane sentence, but it's true. It is totally unbelievable, except that God really does have confidence in me. His confidence is not that I will steer clear of the crash, but that I will walk away from it. He knows that some day I will sing. His confidence is that when the bones have set, and the stitches have healed, I will love Him even better than I could have dreamt of loving Him before.
His confidence is really in Himself, and how He will woo me during those long, long nights of healing.
Evil comes into our lives, and when it does it is evil. Christians seem to try to convince each other that evil is good, because God intends it for good. It is not. Evil is in this world, and when buses hit us, it is evil. God even seems to protect the drivers of those figurative buses as much as His own children (Please know that I don't have anything against professional bus drivers - all metaphor here.) He sends His rain on the just and the unjust, because His love is perfect. Even as they sin against us, God allows them to live another day. Even the saints under the throne cry out for God to execute judgement, but He is patient.
He gives them more time to repent.
Just like He gave us.
And the sin crashes into our lives, and we cannot steer clear of it, and He won't take the wheel to steer us clear of it.
But don't all things work together for us who are called to be confirmed to the glorious image of Christ?
Yes. God redeems all these things. And He makes all things beautiful.
I praise God for the buses that have torn through my life.
There are some things in my life to which I do not yet see the beauty, but they are fewer every year. God has met me in desparate times and thorny places that were NOT of my choosing, but they have become beautiful to me. He was there. The old Footprints in the Sand story is simple, but it is so very, very true. God did not keep me from being knocked off my feet, but He dressed my wounds and carried me while I healed - and my spirit was infused with His presence.
It was during those times that Jesus and I fell in love.
I don't see it, but I trust He is conforming me to His image. What I can see is that He is reshaping my mental picture of what "Lovely" is like with every crash. My idea of "Beautiful" looks more like the real Jesus every year, and He holds a bigger part of my heart after every long night of healing.
I still won't ever steer into a crash, but I fear each one a little less. I know the Nurse really well now, and I treasure that time with Him.
He loves perfectly.