I had an interesting conversation with a woman this week who is sure God hates her because she was unable to have children and her life-as-she-wanted-it has fallen apart. She insisted that if I hadn't eventually had children after my years of infertility I would also be bitter and would no longer follow Christ.
I disagreed. Because I've walked through the darkness, I've endured the pain, and I've made the same difficult choice that Mary, Jesus' mother, had to make … do you stand outside the door and tell Jesus he's crazy, or do you walk in and sit at his feet even though it seems he's lost his mind?
Here's an excerpt from Wrestling with Wonder that explores Mark 3:20-21, 31-35 when Jesus' mother and brothers go to "take charge of him" because they're sure he's lost his mind. I offer it as encouragement for anyone who feels like God just isn't doing what he's supposed to be doing in their lives…
Like he did for Mary, Jesus breaks in to shatter our old paradigms, to remake us. And life doesn’t turn out the way we expect. God doesn’t act like we expect. The promises don’t seem to be coming true. Our life looks like a crazy mess. We lose our job, we can’t pay our bills, a child rebels, a loved one dies, cancer hits, we face divorce, infertility, failure in ministry. Bombs fall into our lives and break us apart. We face the loss of what we expected life to look like if only we follow Christ, surrender to him.
So we wonder ...
Am I doing something wrong?
Has God forgotten me?
Has he betrayed me?
Are the promises just not true?
God, have you lost your mind?
We wonder, we doubt, we worry. We question his goodness, we call to him from the outside. And all the time it is not us or God or the promises that have failed, it’s our expectations that have betrayed us. They have taken the truth and whispered lies in our ears. We operate in the paradigm we know—the world’s paradigm. We see the promises through the lens of what the world says is blessed—success, victory, being well fed and well loved. The problem is true success, true victory, being truly well fed and well loved looks little like we’re taught to believe. Sometimes it looks like failure, sometimes it looks like we’ve been abandoned, sometimes it looks like death itself.
We’ve forgotten that we serve an unexpected Christ, we follow an out-of-the-box Messiah. We forget that every promise will be fulfilled ... but in ways we never dreamed. Mary would learn this. Every single line she sang in the Magnificat would come true, but not a single line in the way she must have expected. And in the journey, she would become who God always intended her to be. She would become mother of the Messiah by a means she never would have wanted, never would have dreamed. She would see victory beyond imagination. And she would see it when all seemed lost.
So, the question is, when life takes a turn, when things are nothing as expected, will you still believe, will you still sing? Will you still say “My soul magnifies the Lord?” Because this is the Christ that comes into our lives, the One who fulfills every promise and defies every expectation. The One who showers his mercy, who lifts us up in our pain, who fills us in ways we cannot foresee. The One who remakes us ... beyond our expectations, beyond anything we could have ever dared to dream.
Like Mary, we too must choose. When God seems to have lost his mind, will you still walk through the door, sit at his feet, and do the will of the Father? Or will you keep calling to him from outside the door? Will you cling to your picture of who God is supposed to be and insist he conform to your will instead of you to his?
Or will you trust that he is truly your Messiah when he doesn’t behave the way you want? When life is nothing like you expect and prayers aren’t answered the way you’d hoped, when God hasn’t intervened, when the songs seem like delusional dreams ...
Will you still trust him?
Will you go in and sit at the feet of the Savior?