Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.
Telling people that you think God speaks to you will get you very strange looks. I imagine that they think you must be hearing voices in your head, so I stay away from the topic. Still, as I was running through my closet the other day, trying to find my winter clothes, it occurred to me that I’ve been very worried lately. It used to be that whenever I have a problem, I tell it to God, tell him it’s now his problem, and never think of it again. It’s how I stay so relaxed even when my world is falling apart. So, the question pushed itself into my mind, “what’s been the problem lately”?
You know, I told God. I’m worried about my grades. I’ve missed as many classes as I’ve attended this semester. You are very kind that I have been doing so well despite that. Yet I worry that the next class I miss will be the important one; that the next exam will be the one I fail. I deserve it. I’ve not worked as hard as I should. I worry that I might lose you because I can’t be bothered to go to church any longer. I know that you would never reject me while I want you, but what if I don’t want you? What if I push you away? What if I completely take leave of my senses and rebel. What if this new-found difficulty to get myself up on Sundays is just the first sign?
If you don’t want me, the thought came, why does the thought of not wanting me upset you?
I laughed. I know that line from one of C S Lewis’ books. Maybe I’m deceiving myself. By telling you that I’m worried about not wanting you, I convince myself that I might want you when I really don’t. I know, I’m probably making this more complicated than it is. But please, I begged, don’t let that happen.
It’s a prayer I say often; that if I were to someday decide that I prefer money or another human or some sort of trifle to God, that he’ll bring me back to my senses. I’ve resolved not to worry about those things anymore, but I’m finding new things to worry about – like my presentation tomorrow. The good news is that every once in a while I come out of my depression-induced cloud and things seem normal. I can pick myself up and go to church or class without even thinking about it. It’s those times that anchor me. They give me hope that this isn’t just me thinking up an excuse to be bad. They tell me that I don’t deserve to fail my classes, that my less than desirable work habits are not my fault – maybe. But it’s that endless cycle. Eventually, everything passes and I’m back in darkness so thick I forget that God is there with me.
1. Now thank we all our God,
with heart and hands and voices,
who wondrous things has done,
in whom this world rejoices;
who from our mothers' arms
has blessed us on our way
with countless gifts of love,
and still is ours today.
2. O may this bounteous God
through all our life be near us,
with ever joyful hearts
and blessed peace to cheer us;
and keep us still in grace,
and guide us when perplexed;
and free us from all ills,
in this world and the next.
3. All praise and thanks to God
the Father now be given;
the Son, and him who reigns
with them in highest heaven;
the one eternal God,
whom earth and heaven adore;
for thus it was, is now,
and shall be evermore.
I feel better these days. I haven’t had to play music to get out of bed in a long time. I’m missing less classes. My mind doesn’t feel foggy. I think that this is how normal feels. It’s comforting to have some sort of certainty about myself. When I skip classes now, it’s because I don’t want to go. I don’t know if that will ever change. It used to be that I attended my classes as a matter of principle. It also used to be that I barely paid attention. I’d like to think that things really are getting better.
In the meanwhile, I’m trying to figure out more puzzling things. I read books and watch TV shows and the pervasiveness of Homosexuality worries me. One way to convince people of something is to make it seem normal. Present it as a matter of course, with no defense or condemnation, so that it becomes a constant presence in their mind and they stop to see something wrong with it. Even knowing that doesn’t keep you from falling for it. But why? Why should the world be so twisted? I have often likened it to being told that it is perfectly fine for people to eat with their feet and walk with their hands. It rankles me, having that presented as fine when it’s so obviously not. Why doesn’t the world make sense? I need a mantra, I think, to bring myself back in times like this.
God exists. I know that because the universe was made by someone. I know it because he answers my prayers. Whenever I doubt that, I’ll do the logic and keep the records to remind myself. I know that I have sinned against God and I can only rely on his mercy. I know there was a man named Jesus, whose words are trustworthy and that he promises mercy to those who receive him. I hope in him to the exclusion of all else because I can’t find mercy anywhere. This God is my father, my friend and my king. So I can trust him with myself. I’m safe with him.
And I know one other thing: the whole world is definitely mad.
Ahab wanted to buy Naboth’s vineyard, but Naboth didn’t want to sell it. So, Ahab went home sulking and wouldn’t eat. His wife, Jezebel, when she learned the reason for her husband’s condition sent letters to the leader is Naboth’s town. Her instruction was: Get two people to falsely accuse Naboth of cursing God and the king. Then convict him and stone him to death. After this was carried out, she told her husband he was free to take Naboth’s vineyard. While he was reposessing the vineyard, he was found by Elijah, the prophet of God with this message:
This is what the Lord says: ‘Have you not murdered a man and seized his property? In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood—yes, yours! I am going to bring disaster on you. I will wipe out your descendants and cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel—slave or free. I will make your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat and that of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have aroused my anger and have caused Israel to sin.’ And also concerning Jezebel the Lord says: ‘Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.’ Dogs will eat those belonging to Ahab who die in the city, and the birds will feed on those who die in the country.”
Even though Jezebel ordered the murder of Naboth, God blamed Ahab. It is a similar principle as when David planned to have Uriah killed by the enemy in battle. Ahab might not have killed Naboth himself, but he lent his approval to his wife’s actions. He was supposed to be the leader of the people, and he gave power to a queen who led them to murder. If he had not made her queen and supported her actions up till this point, she would not have done as she had. And after the murder, he went to help himself to the spoils.
It seems God’s policy with evil is this: Don’t support it. Don’t even look like you approve of it. Don’t stand by and watch it happen. Don’t partake of whatever comes from it. In fact, stay as far as you can from it.
Jeroboam and Baasha were two kings I’ve previously written about who did evil like Ahab and received a similar punishment.
Ahab’s response to this was impressive. He tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted – the picture of contrition itself. So God had mercy on him and told him that while the curse would still play out, it would happen after his death. I suppose that was a good thing.
It’s never too late to repent. Even if you have the sin of an entire country on your hands, God will forgive you.