Sometimes my path to eternity feels like Alice’s path through the rabbit hole to Wonderland. Curiouser and curiouser. As if everything is backwards and upside down.
And isn’t it?
Adam and Eve. It all should have been perfect. Simple. But the free will embedded in perfect love leaves a way for choices, questions, and decisions. A way for a serpent to hiss doubt into curious ears and to convince us to trust ourselves more than we trust our Creator.
We have been confused since the fall of man and angels, yet our Father tirelessly teaches us – giving us the proof of lesson after lesson, example after example, miracle after miracle. As we try to push through thousands of years of Satan’s lies and our own human failure, everything God asks of us seems warped from how we want to understand it.
Consider this mind-bending truth – the teaching manifested into a baby. God colliding with man, Jesus came to straighten it all out. But humanity had been confused for so long that truth felt strange enough to reject. He turns everything we thought we knew around while handing us reality on a platter. Are we rejecting it still?
The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:2-12 NIV)
And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Who actually does that? Rejoice over persecution? Be grateful for sufferings that bless us? Who is willingly tumbling down that rabbit hole?
I am. So are many others. You should come, too.
What has this backwards living done to me? It’s left me dancing with a freedom that is, strangely enough, found in obedience. Not in my own will, but in complete devotion to His will. Spinning away from the topsy-turvy world. What does that look like, to live out the oxymoron of Christianity?
Instead of doing things my way, Jesus became the center of my life.
The reason for my choices.
The driver of my actions.
The planner of my path.
Instead of getting what is left of my time, He comes first.
Before the snooze button.
Before Facebook, my to-do list, and my job.
Before my family and friends. (Logic assumed they all would bail when I made that choice, but many of them came closer. How’s that for backwards?)
He’s teaching me to set myself apart.
Away from evil, away from temptation, and away from the crowd.
Jesus says to let go of everything to follow Him.
Everything has been torn down. It’s being rebuilt for His glory.
My career, my house, my money, my possessions, and my dreams.
My entire life.
He wants it all.
He wasn’t kidding about losing my life to find it.
He wasn’t just being dramatic when He said we must deny ourselves.
He doesn’t only ask other Christians to give up everything to be His disciples.
And just when I think there is nothing left to give…
That I have already laid all of it on His altar…
When it feels so hard and unfair and ridiculous and backward…
When I am broken into a million pieces at the foot of His cross…
He turns it on its head and has the nerve to ask for one more thing.
My God takes not just my love,
My complete devotion.
He also takes my pain.
When I surrender all,
He takes all.
Until I am free.
Until there is space, room, and opportunity for blessings, rewards, and miracles.
He is the opposite of a greedy world.
He takes so He can give.
He leaves us empty handed so we have room to hold His treasures.
There is a beautiful but mysterious balance to all this. It can be frustrating, but more so captivating. When I dare to continue opening the gift that we all have been given, what I find is not at all what I expect to find, while at the same time it feels like figuring out what I already knew.
Not so much like uncovering a secret, but more like discovering a memory that hasn’t happened yet.
It’s about coming back to where we started, which is an entirely new place we’ve never (yet always) been.
Alice, you’re missing out. Wonderland’s got nothing on this.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
~Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV)
Lord, challenge us today – to open the mysterious gift instead of just staring at it. To stop fighting against the truth. To quit believing the lies that have been fostering confusion since the beginning of time. Help us find the strength to surrender, to give it all. Unmake it, break it all down, and rebuild it Your way. ~Amen