Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Bold Love (Course Correcting)
I've been increasingly angry lately. Did you read my last blog post? I've been getting really angry at the violence in this world. I've been listening to angry poets, saying angry words, and writing angry blogs. I have been naming this anger "passion" and and I've been wielding it is a tool to inspire action and conversation. This has been a disappointing quest. Disappointing and dissatisfying and ineffective.
The question I keep asking is, “why aren't we (me, you, someone, anyone) doing anything about this?” I hear so many stories of senseless pain and there are no answers. No one seems to see. No one seems to be doing anything. And sure, some people are doing something, but it isn't enough. It isn't enough! This has been the battle cry of my last weeks.
One of my favorite things about how God loves me is that he gives me good books. Not just good books, right books at the right time. I picked up one the other day off a shelf at work. Bold Love, by Dan Allender. It was a direct answer to my current struggle, and to be honest, quite a blow to my pride and arrogance.
I don't know how to sum up what I'm reading. It's a lesson I'm learning and it's new to my heart. But I'm offering this half-thought as a course correction to my last post, as quickly as I can offer it, because God is clearly telling me to turn and go the other way. I'm sorry for the tremendous amount of quoting, but this book is so good and these aren't quite my words yet.
I read this: “Who wants to struggle with God as one looks at the blight of injustice? There are days when I talk to a young child who was physically and emotionally bloodied and torn into pieces by a man's sexual and power lust, and I want out. I want relief. I frankly don't care how I find it, but I want wings to fly above the countryside littered with crushed souls.” Yes, I thought. That is what I want if I'm honest—relief and a way out of feeling the pain of a fallen world. Allender goes on to write of himself in these situations, “[I felt] a distant and protective possessiveness toward those who were suffering. I wanted to ease their pain (and mine) by striking dead their Egyptian abusers and leading them through the desert to the Promised Land.”
I've been angry and I knew that. What I didn't realize is that I am angry at God. My cries for the action of people around me are masked cries for his action. My energy toward my own action has been an angry, anxious, arrogant effort to do what God (seemingly) will not. If he will not act on behalf of these women, then I will. If he will not stir the passion of his people, then I will. Behind my anger at God, my mistrust and disbelief in God. It is this place I've lived the past several weeks.
My convictions against injustice are not wrong and have not changed. But the energy behind them, to relieve my own suffering, to act out of mistrust in God, well, He is calling me elsewhere.
Away from anger and arrogance, but not toward passivity or numbness. I've been asking the question, “what is the third way?” And with Allender's words, God has begun to answer:
“It is possible to face injustice and suffering and work for its demise as a response to the gospel. The consequence of my injustice has been paid for by His death and resurrection; therefore, I long to see others who are unjust come to taste the humbling delight of His kindness. Or injustice can be fought as a screaming protest to God's silent inactivity. ...The difference may not be easily noted, but in time the energy of hatred versus gratitude will be sensed in those who receive their strength and kindness. One will serve with humble, quiet grace and the other with angry, demanding assertion. One fights for a General who has already won, and the other for a revolution that is in question. One hates injustice, and the other hates God who has not dealt with injustice according to our timetable. (I paused a long time after reading this. On this sentence, I asked forgiveness) The latter enters the fray with a frenetic, scrambling energy that is busily in control; the former with a centeredness that is strong and passionate, but that is never inconsistent with a deep concern for the one with whom the battle for justice and love is fought.
In the face of injustice—which is daily and monstrous—one either learns to aggressively ask the hateful question, “Where is God?” or ask, “Who is God, that He bears His own sorrow as the unjust succeed and the just suffer?” The enraged assertion attacks injustice with furious self-will; the struggling question waits honestly in trusting silence for God's perspective. This kind of trust is not a passive, other-worldly asceticism that smothers present groanings beneath a pious futuristic hope. Rather it is a passionate, pregnant confidence in a God who will enfold an honest struggler in strong arms of comfort and love.”
I am correcting my statement. I needed a reminder. This is who I want to be for my someday daughter, my someday son: a passionate, honest struggler. One who has patient and expectant confidence in a God who enfolds me in strong arms of comfort and love. A woman who is strong and passionate and full of humble, quiet grace. A woman in love, wanting to know more of who He is, why He does what He does. Not accusing. Pursuing. I offer this as a confession and a stake in the ground.