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Blogity-blah-blah-blog: Deep Thought Thursday ~ And They Lived Happily Ever...?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Deep Thought Thursday ~ And They Lived Happily Ever...?

We've all heard stories and fairy tales when we were kids. Most of them end with the phrase "...and they lived happily ever after. The End." But what these stories fail to mention is what happens after the story ends. What happens in the span of time which is "happily ever after"? Do we just assume the characters in the story spend the rest of their lives happy and content with no more issues or problems?

Too often we take what we hear in these stories and fairy tales and apply them to our lives as we get older. "If I would just find someone and get married all my problems will go away and I will live happily ever after" or "If I just get that big promotion I will have enough money to take care of all my problems and I will live happily ever after".

Take marriage for example. How many of us really have it in our heads that finding someone and getting married is going to end all of our problems? I know I used to think that way. Sure, it might end our problem of loneliness, or does it? It's sad, but I've seen people who are married but they are also lonely. Why? Because marriage is not a cure for loneliness. Marriage is something that takes a lot of hard work to maintain. It's about connection more than it is about attraction. No, I'm not married but I've been around long enough and I've seen enough to have realized some of these things. I am with a really great girl now, she's really smart and beautiful. I thank God for her. I'm thankful for the time that I've spent alone though. I've had time to observe. I'm glad I didn't get married at a very young age. I'm not saying it doesn't work for some people, I'm just saying it wouldn't have worked for me.

Then there are people who have no interest in marriage but like to have sex with as many people as they can. I think these people must be the loneliest people. There is no connection to the people they are with. They are just fulfilling a desire for themselves that lasts only moments at a time. It's sad. Selfishness can make a person so lonely.

What about that big promotion? You'll be all set after that, right? You'll feel free, right? Probably not. The more stuff you have, the more you'll want. We came into this world with absolutely nothing to our name, yet so many of us never seem to have enough. Freedom is not about having whatever we want, it is about being free from want. I know this is something I struggle with and I don't want anyone to think I'm standing on a soap box saying these things. I'm right in the middle of the crowd with everyone else.

So I guess this is the part where I'm supposed to say "Give your life to Jesus and you'll live happily ever after! The End!" But I'm not going to say that because it's not true. However this is how Jesus is usually presented to people by others. Give your life to Jesus and he'll solve all your problems and you can just sit back and relax, he's got it all covered. I think this is why so many people get excited when they hear about all the stuff Jesus is gonna do in their lives and then they back away when something bad happens. This whole "bait and switch" tactic doesn't work. Has anyone ever seen the "easy" button that Staples sells?

Whoop, there it is! Yes, the Staples "easy" button. A clever little device that doesn't really do anything. But it's a big red shiny button, you can't resist pushing it. You're getting fingerprints all over your computer screen, stop it! Now of course the Christian sub-culture had to go and rip this idea off just like they do with everything else, so now I bring to you:

Whoops! Ugh, so misleading. I understand what they're trying to say here. They're trying to take the passage in Matthew 11:30 "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" to try and send a message to people. But Jesus also said "Get ready for trouble. Look to what you'll need; there are difficult times ahead." (Luke 22:36). So to simply say, "It's just that easy" just doesn't sum it up

Just like a marriage, following Jesus takes a lot of work on our part. There will be times of rest and peace, but there will also be times of hardship and suffering. There are some books out there written by Christian authors that tell you how to get what you want in 12 steps or 8 steps or however many steps they choose. They may as well title these books "How to Make God Your Own Personal Genie: so you can get what you want when you want it", and it will feature a picture of the author on the front cover with a huge grin and perfectly straight white teeth.

The last time I checked Jesus didn't even have a home, car, computer, or any possessions for that matter. We worship a homeless guy. He normally ate at other people's houses and slept on their futons. How does a book about getting everything you want reflect a life lived for Jesus? The fact is it's close to impossible to follow Jesus. If I told you to go and sell your house, your car, become homeless, leave your family, would you do it? I know I couldn't. But I don't think Jesus is looking for people to live the same life he lived. I think he's looking for people who take what they do have, whether it's a little or a lot, and use that for God's kingdom. To let go of the things and the stuff that we think matters so much to us. To do that we must love others unconditionally as Jesus loves us. We must not judge or condemn others, but lift others up when they are down in the dumps. Jesus looks at our hearts and what's in it (besides blood).

One thing that does bring comfort when following Jesus is to find others carrying the same load and knowing you are not alone. In 2 Corinthians 1:3 it says "He (Jesus) comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.

Will we ever have a happily ever after? I'd like to think that when I finally get to meet God face-to-face, I will get to experience "happily ever after." Until then, I need to remember what it says in Romans 8:18 "That's why I don't think there's any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what's coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens."

Hope you enjoyed this one. Come on back tomorrow!

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