As I reflect more intentionally on my faith journey, I can't help but notice that for the majority of my life, I've lived with contradiction. Though I grew up in the hood, I knew I didn't belong there. Though I grew up in poverty, I knew that it wasn't normal. Though I lived in a single-parent home, I knew there should be two. Though I tried my hardest to fit in with the cool kids in school, I knew I was different and didn't belong.
Essentially, all of my past contradictory moments point to the most challenging part of my life: Loving God but knowing that something (several things) still isn't right.
So what do you do?
What do you do when you love God but there are elements in your life that contradict either what you had in mind or what He says in His word? How do we navigate the tension of truth and pain with grace and integrity? How do we deal with the longing for His promises for us while holding the tension of not yet?
If we're honest, this is where we find ourselves more times than not.
The contradiction is what keeps us up at night. The contradiction is what makes us vulnerable. The contradiction is what shows us that we control nothing. The contradiction means we're human.
Many of us are transitioning, and we are uncomfortable. Some of us are relocating to a new state and are happy about it, while others are afraid. Some of us are leaving jobs and careers to pursue the next phase of destiny and are nervous, while others are grateful and excited. Some are getting married, while others are walking through the heartbreaking pain of divorce. And though we may all love God, we realize that He's dropped us in the middle of a contradiction.
I think Charles Dickens articulated the essence and spirit of contradiction best in his 1859 novel, A Tale of Two Cities:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the
age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the
season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter
The great contradiction.
What do you do when you find yourself here, which we often do? How do you keep believing when it feels like door after door has been shut in your face? What do you do when you've hoped for so long that it hurts more to hope than not? Where do you find the courage when God has finally answered your prayers, but you realize that something you love has to die?
It is the human contradiction that Octavia E. Butler posits is most dangerous. She suggests that intelligence and hierarchical behavior cannot coexist. By nature, humans are intelligent and hierarchal because we are made in the image of God, who is intelligence and hierarchy.
Is it not God who knows our thoughts before they are a long way off?
Is it not God who knows the end from the beginning?
Is it not God who tells us that fearing Him is the beginning of wisdom?
Is it not God who tears down idols we erect above Him?
Intelligence. Hierarchy. Intelligence. Hierarchy.
I think God knew that surrendering to Him would be our most difficult task because the Bible is filled with people who struggled to obey. God had to have known that to make us in His image and lock us into time, we would struggle to submit our will and authority to Him. After all, He did make us gods.
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. Psalm 82:6
On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: King of kings and Lord of lords. Revelation 19:16
Does not being made in His image make you god-like? Does not being made in His image make us gods on earth who have the authority to rule and reign? If Jesus is the King of kings, who are the kings that He's King over?
You. Me. Us.
We all are created with two essences: divinity and humanity. We are eternal spirits having a human experience that will one day return to eternity.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11
And when have you ever seen a god fighting going to war with a peasant? It doesn't happen. Gods fight Gods. Gods fight gods. God fights us if we don't surrender first. We fight God when we refuse to surrender the weapons of our will, and isn't this why we struggle?
We know we have the free will and the ability to make things happen, but we also know that it would behoove us to let God decide. We know we have the free will to do whatever we want, but we fight ourselves to let God lord over our lives.
I say all this to say that the reason we struggle to walk through the contradictions of our lives is because our human and god-like nature are at war. We struggle with having the capability to take control (hierarchy) but the wisdom to yield (intelligence).
And is that not the beginning of courage?
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