Friday, December 12, 2008

Hold on . . .

I just found the sheet music for the song "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips. I don't really want to talk about why I bought it years ago - it's a long story. Or why I still have it 20 years later! But the lyrics go something like this, "I know that there is pain but you hold on for one more day and you break free from the pain." I think I know why this song was kind of a hit. There is a lot of pain in life and it's natural to want to break free. But what is freedom and what on earth are we supposed to hold on to?

There have only been a handful of times in my life where I felt truly desperate. It's not really the best place to be. When you come to a place of desperation it must mean that things are so bad there doesn't seem to be a way out. It's obvious there is desperation over loss and grief, health problems and financial crisis.

Some painful situations seethe below the surface. They are too painful, humiliating or dangerous to talk about. On the surface things seem fine or even great! Dealing with spiritual temptations and sin are the unseen deal breakers for Christians. And it's a lonely place because you don't really want to stand up in church and ask for prayer for your porn addiction or the feelings you have for someone at work. And it seems that the church doesn't really want you to either. We have such a hear no evil, see no evil mentality that just wants to pat you on the back, say good morning and wish you a good week. The statistics of Christians dealing with pornography and affairs are staggering and we think it's not going on in our churches?

So why does God allow times that are so bad and staggering? I have never prayed more passionately than when I am desperate or someone I know is. I cry and plead for the Lord to be near and change my stinky, sinful heat. I beg for his strength and comfort for someone going through a battery of tests which might result in a cancer diagnosis. Sometimes I just ask why or sit in the presence of Jesus.

There are also times when I just want to walk away from Christ. It seems too hard and he feels so distant.

I've never really considered myself a doubter. I haven't felt the need to read "Evidence that Demands a Verdict". Faith has just always come naturally to me. But sometimes it just isn't that simple. I'm reading a book by Philip Yancey called "Reaching for the Invisible God." It's one of the best books I've read in a long time. Here are a few of his quotes about faith:

"Perhaps that's what faith is: trusting God's goodness despite any apparent evidence against it" (page 69)

"Faith requires obedience without full knowledge" (page 90)

"Faith that does not count for such complexities can not last" (page 93)

"Hope emerges as a result of the struggle" (page 95)

There is so much about God that we don't know and will never know on earth. And a faith that says only "all things work together for good" is not that helpful when your life is in ruins or your heart is completely ripped to shreds. There's more to this faith thing than God is good as long as he makes me happy and gives me what I want. Then I'll love Him.

If we're not desperately clinging to Jesus and holding on for dear life - what kind of faith do we have?

There is a choice to be made in desperate times: cling to Christ or try to stumble through in darkness. If we cling to Christ and pray desperately for Him and His work in our life, then hope will emerge. Those don't seem to be lyrics of a future pop hit, but then again, how long did Wilson Philips last?

Hebrews 11:1
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. "

Colossians 2:1-3
1I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

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