thoughts of a tim

Real Good All The Time

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Real love isn’t the absence of pain, rather it is the courage to deal pain if needed.

Recently I’ve gone through a difficult transition where I lost a relationship that was really fun and awesome for me.  A relationship that seemingly ended before it began, with a girl I was super excited to get to know and talk with.

Long story short, we had to go our separate ways, in something which one day removed has been really freaking hard already.  And honestly, it made me a little ticked off at God.

The past month, I had really been enjoying the gifts that God was giving me.  He had given me an awesome job, an awesome fellows program, etc etc.  Then I met this girl, and she kinda blew my mind.  I thought God was giving it all.  He wasn’t just good, he was real good.

Now, I feel like it was all a waste.  Why did I spend so much time getting to know this person before it was all swept away?  Why did this person I thought was so awesome have to be pulled away from me?  Why didn’t it work out God? Why?

I was initially a bit turned off to the obvious Jesus answers; the classic, “it all works out” and “God has a plan” are things you’ve heard so often and its hard to actually feel free from them.

For me, it almost felt like “God, I’ve learned this lesson before.  I’ve had heartbreak, and I’ve learned from you to be dependent on you during this.  So why am I retaking a class that sucks and hurts?  I don’t want to retake this class!”

Class doesn’t feel real good.  Gifts do.

And this is where I think there needs to be a restructuring of the construct that we (I) see life in.  Because gifts are equated to good.  Gifts without pain.  Lessons are equated to hard, and ugly.

What if we looked at hardship in our lives and saw them as blessings?  What if we truly truly trusted God with everything he does?  What if we saw him take away things and believed immediately that his removal of said thing from our lives was actually for our benefit…. that it was an act of GRACE…. that it was a gift?

We know that God loves us and wants what is best for us.  God is not a god who likes to see us suffer.  Rather, I think God loves us so much that in his gracious nature he allows us to suffer so that we can be better off in the future.

I think that the reality is that we often view God as the guy with that cat toy that keeps pulling back the string right before the cat lunges to grab the toy as if to say, “you really thought you could get it that time? LOL.”

I think often we just think that the cat toy is a toy, when its actually a mouse trap.  If God were to let us reach for the mouse trap, we would be broken into many pieces.  But instead, we dwell on the fact that there is no way that mouse trap is a mouse trap.  It is most definitely a toy, because there’s no way that something delicious like cheese could ever be used to hurt us.

The reality is, we all know that the cheese is part of the mouse trap.  That cheese may be delicious, but you have to deal with the pain of a broken paw (assuming you’re still a cat in this analogy).   But if you never get the cheese, you might be tempted to think that the mousetrap being yanked away was simply a tease, a toy that you were chasing at to no avail.

I think I need to start realizing that the things God takes away from us aren’t cat toys.  Lessons are not cat toys dangled in front of your face only to be dragged away at the last second to watch you freak out, but rather it is a mouse trap waiting to spring, and if it wasn’t for a gracious God who cares deeply about his creation, we’d be full of broken hands (trust me broken hands suck).

Real love knows that taking away the mouse trap is the best thing even if it sucks.

Maybe better examples can be shown with human analogies.  I ask which is better:

Letting your child go play out in the street in rush hour because they like to dodge cars?  Or telling them they have to stay away from the street.

Letting your child blow off studying for the SATs because they think they’re a waste of time? Or telling them they can’t leave the house until they study.

In both cases the naive child wants something, that is clear to those of us who are mature enough to understand them know isn’t a great idea.  But to the child, these may never make sense.  They don’t make sense until they grow up enough to realize, shoot, Im glad I stayed away from the street or studied for the SATs because look where I am, and look where I could’ve been.

I believe that someday I’ll be able to look back on this period and see that.  I’ll be able to see, wow, I totally agree God, this was the right thing for the time.  Maybe it’s because I learn a lesson.  Maybe it’s something totally different.

Obviously this is hard to accept.  I still miss the girl, and I still definitely wish I was still talking with her.  I still don’t really get what happened.  But I’m starting to believe God is not just real good with the gifts, he’s real good with the lessons too.  He’s real good all the time.


One Thing Remains

This weekend I went home from Blue Ridge to visit home.  During that visit I spent one day at UMD Cru Fall Retreat, where I was able to meet up with a bunch of friends and enjoy company.

Yet, it was a song I’ve heard about a million times by now (and a verse of that song that I must have repeated a billion) that I’ve been unable to get out of my mind; it was One Thing Remains.  This phrase kept reverberating in my brain, over and over again. Maybe this is God “speaking to me,” but I don’t have the audacity to claim for certain it was.  But as I was talking about this with one of my friends on the drive back to Roanoke, I started to process it (verbally of course) why this phrase was sticking out to me.

Normally, when I hear this song, it connects with the truth that God’s love is stronger than any other love.  To remain is to endure or to survive testing.  There is this image of God’s love being so strong, so real, that when all else fades, when the testing is so strong that all fails…. “this one thing, remains.”

But at Fall Retreat, it struck me in a different way.  I’m not currently going through a period where my world is crumbling around me and I need to remind myself that God will never leave or forsake me (which is an awesome truth btw).  Nevertheless, I was captivated by this phrase.

I think the word remains makes a parallel with consistency.  Long standing consistency. Meaning that the “one thing” isn’t just there when life falls apart, its there when its sunny and 75 too (assuming you’re a normal person and like sunny and 75) because its consistently there.  Its not something we have to fight for.  Its been there and will continue to remain there.  That “one thing” isn’t dependent on us at all.

It’s incredible when you think about that in comparison to the idea of love as I think many of us (certainly me) characterize it.

God’s love isn’t like the feelings of a girl (or a guy) who you have to win.  You don’t need to flirt with God.  You don’t need to convince him to like you.  You don’t need to worry about losing him.  Heck, if you cheat on him, he still stays.  No matter what stupid stuff you do, God’s love already does, and will, and will to come.

“Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me”

Its this crazy, stupid, reckless love.  It is so constant despite anything and everything, that if it was your friend who was doing the love, you’d probably encourage them to stop because they were being stupid.  But yet, it doesn’t.  That one thing remains.

If that wasn’t enough, you did nothing to receive this love.  He did everything.  And now, because of that fact that it is through him and not you,  you are powerless to ever lose it.

One thing.


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