Sunday, May 11, 2003

Looking for Why

The other morning as I was driving Cameron to school, I noticed the faces of people driving--the person in my rear view mirror, the lady waiting to turn as I went by, the people in the cars in the oncoming lane. I was struck by the seemingly vast differences of us all--our backgrounds, our families, our careers, our hopes, our struggles--and I thought of all the diversity within each individual life. An affluent person today might have been hungry as a child. And that same person might experience financial struggles in the years to come. Some are healthy; some are not. Some have loving homes; some do not. Some have overcome the hurts and hurdles holding them back from childhood; some have not...yet.

As I thought about the very great differences in our lives, I also was aware of our sameness. As Bonhoffer said, "We are all equally in need of salvation." Throughout our lives, somehow, perhaps even unknowingly, we will be drawn closer to our loving Lord. Our circumstances--financial, health, relationship, and emotional--may simply be doors inward to the place where eternity, and eternal blessing, live in us. Looking at it that way, does it really matter that some people have more money, some have better health, and some better relationships than others? If our outward circumstances are the door inward to God, we can be happy that we each have doors of opportunity that take us closer to Him, no matter what those doors might look like.

So often when something goes wrong in our lives, we begin to look for reasons...searching for the why. The thinking is that if we do everything right, if we play by all the rules, watch our health, eat right, listen to our consciences, and pray regularly, nothing "bad" will happen. And then when something *does* happen, we feel, as Henri Nouwen says, that we are "living under the curse, instead of knowing our blessedness." But Jesus already explained how this whole curse-blessing thing works in relation to circumstances. When he was asked whether the man's blindness was due to his or his parents' sin, Jesus said, "Neither. This occurred so that the glory of God might be known."

So when someone falls from grace--Martha Stewart's empire is dismantled, the preacher's affair is discovered, a friend is diagnosed with cancer, or we lose a job, do we believe that the circumstance is simply an opportunity for God to make himself known, to that person and to us through them? Or do we look at their (or our) lives and say, "Well, we should have seen it coming. Power corrupts. Stress saps the immune system, and corporate America is only interested in the bottomline." The choice of vision is ours. What are we looking for? That's what we'll find. As for me, I'm going to reserve judgment and keep my eyes open and my heart awake, waiting for God to appear in the open door.

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