Thank you so much, readers. This 31 Days of My People series has been so wonderful for me. It has given me a chance to reflect on some of the many incredible people I have in my life, and remember that every moment we have here on this earth counts. I so appreciate you taking the time to read my thoughts, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have. You can find the entire series here if you missed any of the days and would like to catch up.
This is our final day in this series, and I have saved the very best Person in my life for last.
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 8:38-39
It was always You. I know that now. I used to think people were completely crazy for believing in any God. I thought folks must be pretty pathetic if they needed a bunch of fairy tales about a kind, benevolent man to get them through life. No thank you. I’ll just think some happy thoughts about Abraham Lincoln and call it good.
But somewhere underneath everything there was this tiny shred of something that always made me wonder: What if there is something bigger than us? There has to be. This whole world has no point otherwise. At some point I began my conscious journey toward finding out. Right in the middle of life, where all along I actually thought I’d been doing some living.
I can look back and see it now. How You were inching me toward You a little every day. You left me so many breadcrumbs along the way so I could find You. Looking back from this side, I can see everything around me as a gift You personally gave me, each one bringing me a bit closer, like little mile markers along the trail.
You gave me Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, which made me think for the first time that You could be more than just some old, angry scorekeeper in the sky. That You were pursuing me.
You gave me that professor, the one who invited me to his church. I got to see people enjoying worship. Really meeting you there. And then that professor tried to get me to sleep with him. But that whole experience helped open my eyes to a couple of things: First, that church has a purpose–worship has a purpose. And that people who claim to love You will still mess up in a million ways. So it’s not them I should look to, it’s only You.
You sent me those songs that rang true with me…SO many songs… because You knew this was a language I could understand. You kept them reverberating in my ears when I got scared, or doubted myself. Or doubted Your goodness.
I looked for You in
the fire and the wind…
But You weren’t there as far as I could see
I thought I’d hear You shout
but then I figured out
that all along You’re whispering to me
You gave me such a sense of wonder, and You made sure it got put to good use. Your creation is so amazing. The way oranges are pre-packaged and sectioned perfectly for sharing. Way to go, thinking of that one. The patterns You built into plants and seashells and our DNA? Just completely amazing. And flamingos? And a praying mantis? What are those even for? They seem to serve no purpose whatsoever other than to be admired by us. That’s so You.
And can I just say how brilliant it is that every single person has their own special fingerprints? Our little hidden reminder that although we’re all built out of the same stuff, we are uniquely formed and not one is exactly like the other. Not one. Not even the fingerprints of identical twins are the same! (And also, there is such a thing as identical twins! What?!?) I will forever be in awe of everything You have made.
I believe everything You say, Jesus. It makes me so sad when very loud people take Your words and turn them into hateful things. How can anyone think that’s even a thing? There was never any hatefulness in You. I just wish everyone could understand how that wastes Your love when we do that junk. There’s an unending supply of Your love, enough to go around for everyone, and here we are trying our best to squander it by making it sound like hate. I don’t know everything, but I know that’s not Your way. There’s just nothing for us to be scared of by loving each other like You did. Nothing at all.
Jesus, I think about The Narrow Way a lot. I just don’t feel like it’s what a lot of people have said it is. I think it might have something to do with how You always hung out with the folks that were outcast, despised, and desperate. I think The Narrow Way looks a whole lot like pulling up a chair next to those exact people and putting our arms around them. I think The Narrow Way has something to do with how uncomfortably close we need to be to one another on our way toward You. We just have to get that close in order to really see into each other’s lives and earn the right to speak into them with Your love. I might be wrong, but everything You did and said seemed uncomfortably close and personal like that.
I’m actually really glad You allowed me to grow up for the first part of my life outside of a relationship with You. I know that sounds weird, but I feel like You let me learn some things the hard way, and now I get to use those experiences to help others and point them toward You. So I don’t count any of it as a waste. You are the very best recycler in the universe. All we have to do is hand You our used up junk, and You turn it into something more beautiful than any of us could imagine.
Your commands seem kind of simple to me. Hard to do sometimes, but pretty simple to understand. Love You first. Love people. ALL the people. Not just white, straight Republicans. Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly, with You guiding us. That’s about it.
Why aren’t those simple guidelines enough for us sometimes, Jesus? Why are we always trying to inflate some sins while ignoring others (usually the ones we like to keep doing) to make an US and THEM situation? I think that goes right along with our need to belong. To be a part of something bigger than ourselves. But we twist it up so badly. We could just keep it simple and see that it’s really just about YOU and US and no THEMs at all.
You are by far the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I love a lot of the things You’ve given me and allowed me to be a part of, but all of it is worthless without You. I don’t get all this stuff right. I doubt many of us do. But I do know that when You come back, I want you to find me scooted up close next to the folks everyone else looks down upon. I want You to find me listening to them as they tell about their hopes and fears. I want You to find me wiping tears and feeding stomachs and exchanging smiles. And I don’t think you particularly mind who I do those things with, because we are all Yours, whether we know it yet or not.
You are incredible, Jesus. And I’m so thankful for You in my life.
You are the finest thing that I could live for
and I pray You are the thing for which I die
You’re hard to know, but so easy to approach
and after all, what else is there to life?
-from “You Can” by Ross King