Nothing but open arms

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Imagine, if you will, someone on social media making a definitive statement about a person they'd only ever heard of, but never sought to know---a celebrity, or a friend of a friend, say. It's not too far-fetched a scenario; we form opinions like they're going out of style. The guilty party would quickly be smacked with the label of "judgmental" and, depending on the severity of the verdict, their "friends" would either write them off or sentence them to unliked Facebook content for three consecutive, earth-shattering days.

Makes sense in our culture. And yet, people who haven't sought to acquaint themselves with God somehow seem confident in their opinion of who he is.

There are rampant misconceptions about who God is. Not coincidentally, such views are commonly held by people who have declined knowing him. They say he's an authoritarian; and yet, we are inundated with free will (if in doubt, just turn on the news). They say he represents condemnation, but active-Christians report being overwhelmed with the antithesis of condemnation, which is grace (there is TONS of it). So who and what is this person that both believers and non-believers alike have such different versions of but both claim to know?

I can assure you that anyone who thinks God isn't worth knowing has never known him.

(Who he is = worth knowing.)

I can only imagine how someone who isn't a believer could read what I'm saying and interpret my confidence as insanity. Not only is my mind quite sound, but it often visits places that are painfully realistic.

The world is a beautiful place, full of wonder and possibilities, as my Instagram account strives to resonate in some way. It's my favorite aspect of life to place my magnifying glass. And yet, if we peek just under life's surface, there's a whole reality I think people across cultures and throughout the planet strive to avoid, deny, or forget.

If life were an epic iceberg that we were all forced to live on (permission to create your own explanation of that scenario granted), many of its inhabitants are standing on the 15% above the water, eager to allow their own thoughts, devices, and surrounding beauty to distract them from the potentially sobering mystery of the 85% that lies beneath their feet.

What lies beneath?

Pain. Insecurity. Injustice. Weakness. Unforgiveness. Fear. Guilt. Loneliness. Doubt.  

Photo cred: Pinterest

As someone who battles anxiety "by default," as I say, I don't know how the 15-percenters do it. Because while they seem to be holding their own far better than I used to or could now, I don't know that they really are doing it. They're trying to focus on the good---the joys of life, the ins and outs of the everyday. Life moves pretty fast in a world that can be a captivating place, so distractions are fairly easy to come by. These focus points mean different things to different people: the joy their children bring them; the promise of fun-filled weekends; and less innocent avenues that suggest more desperation, such as substance abuse.

The subconscious belief, I think, is that the joys and beauty of life on this earth are powerful enough to overcome the reality of all the ick that I mentioned before---the ick that evades no one, and merely comes with being human.

The "misperception" I mentioned at the beginning of this blog refers to the belief that anything we face in life without God, however we may resort to dealing with it---whatever we need to do, take, or tell ourselves as we lie in bed waiting to fall asleep at night---is better than simply trying faith.


In many cases, we think the part of the iceberg underneath the water is condemnation. People live and die trying to forget the horrible mysteriousness of what lurks beneath the surface of the day-to-day, without ever realizing that with God, it doesn't need to be horrible at all. Without God... well, I wouldn't blame you for avoiding every part of it. Underneath the water's gentle, blue waves of friends and family and Instagrams that convince ourselves and others of a perfect life, there are killer whales. There are leopard seals---you know, those seals that look cuddly with their mouths closed, but have teeth like tigers and are backed by pure muscle? Yeah those. And to crescendo my point, please Google "blackdragon fish" now. I trust my point is made, and neither of us will add "scuba-dive in Antarctica" to our bucket list any time soon.

It's not all pretty. But God sees all of it, and accepts us as we are. He says it doesn't define us. And he promises we don't have to face any of it alone.

(What he is = Unconditional acceptance. Limitless amounts of forgiveness. Guaranteed security. Unmerited favor. = Grace.)

Forget what you think you know about God. You're not perfect; none of us are. But we don't mind calling out our imperfections because we understand that they're no reflection of our worth---they don't define us.

He's crazy about you. He would die a painful death just to know you (and actually, he has). And he's nothing but open arms.

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