The following is a heavily edited conversation I had with God. Due to confidentiality issues, I am not allowed to post the actual conversation. Besides, you wouldn’t want to read that one anyway. There was a lot of crying (me), whining (me) and poignant moments of silence (God).
Me: God, it is almost Christmas, and I am not in the spirit of the season at all. There is so much happening in the world that is distracting me, frightening me and angering me. I read and watch the news; and, every day, some new evil rears its head. It is so hard to focus on You when everything around me is screaming for my attention. I want to appreciate this time for what it represents, but I don’t think I can.
Keep your mind on Me and I will give you peace (Isaiah 26:3).
Me (with just a hint of petulance): I wish it were that easy. I mean, I get it intellectually; but, practically, peace is like a vapor right now. I can’t get my hands on it. There is so much wrong in the world: shootings, terrorism, abuses, lies, and depravity of every kind. It’s too much. That’s not even mentioning all the petty annoyances. Things like Starbuck cup controversies*, blowhard politicians, or your followers fighting it out on social media. It seems like everything gets on my nerves these days, and I hate that. I want to enjoy life; instead, I go through it with a perpetual grimace on my face and a roll of my eyes. These childish things are making me want to punch something…or someone. And that is probably not the right reaction. Is it?
Be patient with others. They do not know what they are doing (Luke 23:34).
Me (feeling a bit annoyed): Do they ever know what they are doing? Don’t answer that. You’re right…of course. I’ll try patience.
Do or do not. There is no try (Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back).
Me: What? Did you just go all ”Yoda” on me?
All truth is my truth (…).
Me (feeling mischievous): True. Ha! See what I did there?
Yeah, hilarious…Stick with your day job.
Me (smiling wryly): Point taken. Getting back to my feelings – since that is the most important thing we can talk about right now – these little distractions have me pretty much feeling the opposite of what I should be feeling. Yet, if I am honest with myself, these little annoying things are just a crutch I use to keep me from dealing with the big stuff.
Think about the things of heaven, not the petty and insignificant (Colossians 3:2).
Me (feeling like we are getting somewhere): Things that are true, pure, and admirable? Those things? Ok. I can do that.
I guess where I struggle the most though, is seeing people the way you see them. Sometimes, people are just the worst. It is hard enough to love my bitter and angry coworkers, let alone love the person who would walk into a school and shoot everyone they see. What am I supposed to do with that? How do I experience righteous anger at the same time as love for people like that?
All men have gone astray (Isaiah 53:6).
Me (Nodding): Well…sure. All men have gone astray. That is biblical. Yet, you have to admit, it takes a special type of sinner to do something that heinous.
All men are impure with sin. Even your righteous deeds are nothing but filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).
Me (taken aback): Ouch. Just tell me what you really think. You are right, of course. I simply don’t love people like that. Deep down, I believe I am better than they are. I believe I am more worthy of your love than others are. How do I fix that?
Humble yourself before me (James 4:10).
Me (feeling resigned): But that is so much harder to do than it sounds. I do not have the determination to humble myself.
Of course you don’t. You can do nothing without me. All you need to do is hold on to me. Abide in me (John 15:4).
Me (realization finally dawning): So what you are saying is that I can’t do this myself. I need you to do it for me. I just have to trust you to complete the work you started?
I do not abandon the works of my hands (Psalm 138:8 ).
Me (tearfully): I believe you but I need you to help me believe even more.
I love you. Trust that. Obey me and you prove you are holding on to my love. I am telling you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Love and obey me and your life will overflow with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness. All the things you are desperately seeking. Stop looking for them. Look for me (John 15:9-12; Galatians 5:22).
Me (feeling both reprimanded and encouraged): God, I realize this is a “me” problem. I do not love others as I should because I am not loving and obeying you as I should. Please forgive my pride, my sin, and my disobedience. Help me to love others the way you love me. Help me to trust that you will fill my life with joy and peace as long as I am abiding in you. Thank you for being patient with me.
*A note from the writer:
One portion of the unedited conversation that I can discuss relates specifically to the Starbucks’ Red Cup issue. When I asked God what the best response to that issue is, He just laughed and laughed and laughed. Then told me to get out more. Take that for what it’s worth.