There is a gap between who God is and who you and I are. He cannot say, “Well, I realize you’re inherently flawed and disbelieving, but it doesn’t matter. I’ll just pretend you’re perfect and ignore that you are often self-preoccupied, untruthful, controlling and emotionally abusive to those you’ve promised to love.” If He did that, He would be untrue to Himself—and then He would not be God.
Personally, I would have great difficulty honoring or worshiping a wishy-washy Deity who changes the rules on me and then expects me to figure out when and why. The Lord God that I revere is the same all the time and in every situation. He is always fair, right, good, reliable and loving. I deeply respect the spotless character and unchanging personality of God.
I think that’s why I’m amazed that God—perfect in every possible way and knowing all things at any given moment—is even interested in me. But He is. He is interested in you, too. In His loving sovereignty (seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?), He designed an innovative (and frankly, miraculous) way for me to communicate and live peacefully with Him. We celebrate this way at Easter-time. “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (2 Cor. 5:21, NLT).
God sent his flawless Son Jesus as His exact representative into my imperfect surroundings in order to reconnect me to Himself, the omnipotent Creator and Heavenly Father. Such a costly solution to the gapproblem between God and me! God might have gotten very pushy about it, yet He treats you and me—His human creations—with such incredible respect that instead He allows us to decide whether we want to accept His reconciliation proposal. God shows such compassionate understanding of our bottom-line dilemma: He is perfect and we are not. He provides our solution, and yet our refusal to believe and trust His provision is our deepest and basic problem. We need Him—and the good news is that He wants us and created a way for us to connect.
The key to connecting with God? We simply stop refusing Jesus, the True Easter Story. So what does God want from you and me this Easter? Not merely that we go to church–or try harder to be good–or give money to an important cause, although these are worthwhile endeavors. God longs for me–and you–to pray, admit our inability to be 100% sinless, believe that Jesus bridges the gap between us and Him and commit to trust Him with our lives. I’ve discovered that doing this brings me relief right now and ultimate hope for my eternal future.
Where were you when you first talked to God about all this?
Dad and I walked from our hotel along the Nile to a large church near downtown Cairo. We arrived early, but the church was packed on this Palm Sunday morning. Ushers set up folding chairs in the aisles. People crowded the narthex. The standing crowd parted to allow the fifty blue-robed choir members to march down the center aisle. They carried palm branches and sang. We couldn’t understand the words, but we read them in the “guest” bulletin. “I love you, Lord. Come and be with us…” they sang. I cried.
The articulate pastor met with us after the worship service. “We all have something to give, whether Western or Eastern Christians,” he said. “If we learn how to share, then people would know that the giver cares and sees the receiver as a fellow human being and brother.” He explained that was why he appreciated the Christian relief and development program I worked with at the time. We partnered together to offer food, training, jobs, and transportation to deeply disadvantaged families.
The pastor’s daughter, a physician visiting from the United States, talked with us that afternoon. “As a child I wondered continually when someone would come take my dad away. “Yes,” admitted the pastor. “I’ve been in danger of being jailed almost every day of my life.”
I chatted with the daughter (who practiced medicine in the U.S.) about topics like over-working, exhaustion, transition and burnout. “You know what it’s like to race inside, don’t you?” I asked.
“Oh, yes,” she admitted. “It’s like a treadmill — if I try to get off I will fall.” Then she recounted stories about two of her patients who did fall off the treadmill during testing. We chuckled at the analogy.
Although this happened years ago, I think of it today as I celebrate Palm Sunday 2013. Jesus left His perfectly supportive surroundings in heaven to live in this fickle world. One week He was adored, praised and openly honored with parades and palm branches. The next week He was mocked and killed. Seems so unfair. Yet, Jesus came for a purpose–the ultimate purpose!–to sacrifice His life so that all of us can be re-united with our perfect Creator God. All of us, the burned-out doctor, threatened pastor, penniless parent, and caring giver.
It doesn’t matter where you live or what’s happening in your life, Jesus says (about himself), “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish [spiritually] but have eternal life.”
It’s God’s personal invitation to you. If you’ve accepted this loving offer, what does this Palm Sunday 2013 mean to you? How are you celebrating today?
Note: To protect the people involved, I changed some details of this true experience of mine, left out names and exact places, and chosen not to post actual photos.
It’s hard to relax when our personal satisfaction hinges on what someone else does or doesn’t do–or does or doesn’t believe. Doesn’t he know it could work better if he just listened to my plan? Doesn’t she get it?
If you’re a little muddled about how over-helping, perfectionism and playing God are linked, you’re not alone. I’m often puzzled, too. Even experts get confused trying to sort all this out. On occasion, God splashes light into my fogginess through humorous life predicaments. Because all the universe is under God’s domain, I’ve found He can use anything to teach, nurture and grow me. (I love how He does that!) Sometimes new insight comes from surprising venues.
Like that aha! moment I had while watching the movie Driving Miss Daisy a few years ago. The wealthy Miss Daisy and her longtime chauffeur have both aged considerably. As they discuss their situations, Miss Daisy accuses the chauffeur of continuing to drive even though his eyesight is failing. “How do you know how I can see, ‘lessen you look out my eyes?” is his response.
My immediate internal reaction: Whoa! Lord, forgive me for thinking I’m powerful enough to know another’s needs. I realize I will never see their life from their view. I want to learn to treat others with respect. Please help me.
The apostle Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, cautions us about assuming we know another human being’s thoughts and feelings: “No one can really know what anyone else is thinking, or what he is really like, except that person himself” (1 Cor. 2:11, TLB).
I’m continuing to discover the relief-filled truth that I can progressively release my need/urge to do and make it all just right for the people in my life. First step: intentionally trust God for what is not mine to control or direct. Then I can begin to enjoy living in the freedom and grace He patiently waits to give me–and others.
Just wondering: Have you ever experienced what it feels like when someone insists they know what you’re thinking, what you need and how you should resolve your dilemma?
Joan C. Webb
Writing, teaching, coaching to empower and set free.