I am not going to do that. Is it bad that I just wrote all about trusting God completely and then drew a line in the sand that I refuse to cross?
But I don’t feel guilty about this–not one bit. Which is pretty good for someone who tends to be a bit (a lot) scrupulous. I was tempted to feel like a jerk when I first saw the article. “Oh, man,” I thought, “Now I have to do that.” With a sigh because gosh this surrender thing is just so hard and why do I have to do all the hardest things?
And then I remembered that I don’t. In this instance, because it would be absolutely imprudent for a woman to live on the street and rely entirely on the kindness of others. Sure, God could call me to that. But I’m open and I’ve prayed and I just don’t think he is. And I don’t have to feel bad that he’s letting me have a car and a checking account–it’s his plan, not mine. I don’t have to be the very most appallingly surrendered to Divine Providence to be surrendered.
But there are always people to compare myself to. How about this one:
Seriously, read her entire blog. I’ll wait.
I ran across her story and thought, “Wow. What faith. How beautiful. DEAR GOD PLEASE PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME DO THAT!!!!”
I know, and yesterday I sounded all surrendered to God’s will, right?
But here’s the thing: God desires your joy. Not just in heaven (although that’s his top priority), but here on earth, too. He wants you to love your career and your family and your vocation. Yeah, you’re going to suffer along the way. Some of the time it may seem as though all it is is suffering. But that’s because he’s not willing to trade your eternal joy for temporal comfort. “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but forfeit his soul?” There’s a reason for the suffering–because he wants you to be happy.
We tend to look at the examples of the long-suffering Saints and think that whatever is hardest and least appealing in life is probably what God wants for us. Just think about how we glorify the martyrs. “Yeah, he got burned alive. But that guy had his fingers bitten off! And that guy was flayed alive! Ooh, and she’s not a martyr, but she used to rub pepper and lye into her skin to make herself ugly and I bet that really hurt!” We glory in their willingness to suffer for Christ and forget that not everyone is called down the path of bloodiest resistance.
You’ve got to remember, friends, that God loves you–truly, madly, deeply, to borrow the words of Savage Garden. He’s not planning out a miserable, painful path to heaven. Really, he’s planning a life that you’ll love. And he created your heart to desire the things he has for you.
Unfortunately, that desire is often coated in a lot of worthless junk that we’ve piled on ourselves. Which means that just because you want something doesn’t mean that’s God’s will. But it does mean that if something sounds terrible and awful and has absolutely no appeal for you because it’s just the worst thing there’s ever been in the history of ever, you can probably leave it alone for a while. Be open and maybe reconsider down the road but don’t assume that because something sounds terrible it must be what you have to do because Jesus died on the cross and so Christianity must be really, really miserable.
I guess the question you have to ask is does this sound horrible because you’re scared and running away from something or does it sound horrible because it’s just not what you were made for? You have to get past your attachment to sin and figure out what’s really going on.
See, to me, running a marathon sounds like torture. Then death. Then hell. Then being reanimated to suffer it all again. To this guy, it sounds hard (okay, maybe nothing’s hard for him) but not miserable. On the other hand, if you ask me to spend a week–24-7–with teenagers, I’m psyched. I know it’ll be exhausting and hard and probably smelly, but it’s a life-giving kind of hard. And that’s the real difference–does this profession or vocation or promotion or relocation or whatever inspire me? does it make me want to keep going, even when it’s hard? Or do I feel defeated and empty just thinking about it?
What I’m saying is don’t assume something’s “the right thing” just because it’s hard. We aren’t all called to be beggars or run orphanages. But don’t assume it’s “the wrong thing” because it’s hard, either. Anything worth doing is hard. You just have to ask if it’s the kind of hard that makes you want to keep pushing or the kind of hard that makes you want to curl up and die. It’s not that simple all the time, but that’s a good litmus test.
We’re all called to be saints, but we’re not all going to be Saints. You don’t have to be some kind of miracle-working, leper-washing, hair-shirt-wearing superstar to be pleasing to God. And sometimes “trusting God” is code for showing off. If it’s his will, he’ll give you the grace for it, no matter how hard it is. If it’s not, the easy life you’ve got planned might just go all Jumanji on you.
So I’m not going to join Andrew in his radical poverty (yet). But I’m not saying you shouldn’t. Go ahead and pray on it. Just remember: unless it’s God’s will, doing something crazy doesn’t make you a saint. It just makes you crazy.