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God Lives in the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Days

We need more leaders who are willing to say they don't have all the answers

“It's been an Alexander day.”

I love that when I say that to my True Love, he knows exactly what I mean.

“Some days are like that. Even in Australia.”

My Alexander day didn’t involve railroad pajamas, but it did start with only five hours of sleep. And I drove to the gym in darkness only to discover they cancelled my exercise class.

But my Dear Friend also showed up, and we opted to go for a morning cup of coffee and chat. Maybe not endorphins, but something to get us through the day.

Only we got the text before sunrise that Sister’s family was in deeper crisis than first imagined. Not only the crisis of faith we knew about: “I don't believe in Jesus anymore.”

That one we’d prayed for already.

“I don’t think I can do this anymore. I can’t be married to you anymore.”

Oh, Jesus.

Four babies. One still fresh from the womb. My mind can’t even go there. We won’t go there. Grace for today. Bright hope for tomorrow. Blessings all mine, with 10 thousand beside.

Only it doesn’t feel like blessing.

Because I read in my inbox that Bob crossed over into eternity, face to face with Jesus himself. And I'm sad. Even though I know he is more alive at this moment than he's ever been before.

Because life is hard. And it might not get easier. (That's the line my mama sings. Some days I hate that song.)

But today I have to turn my radio to Natalie singing “Someday Our King Will Come,” “Your Great Name,” and “Greatness of Our God.”

Because today is too hard to handle otherwise. The day that would’ve been Ryan's 49th birthday. Life, family, marriage cut short by a moment of insanity and his own son’s hand at the other end of the trigger. My precious friend from home, grieving the loss of her brother and upheaval of theology that never makes sense without Jesus.

It never makes sense. I want to stop trying to make it make sense. It never will.

Why do we think we have to make it make sense? For our own sanity? For the sake of the people we love and shepherd?

I believe what the world needs now is more leaders who are willing to say they don't have the answer. But mercy sakes. That takes guts, right? Humility. Honesty. Willingness to stare in the face of our own pain and doubt. It’s hard to get anybody to do that, much less one wrestling under the “mantle” of leadership.

If you resonate with any of this and you're thinking, “Yes, but how?” Pull up a chair, friend.

Be willing to sit at the table in silence. Some leaders need to have an answer for everything. I see this most in the realm of suffering and pain. We hate to see people we love suffer. We feel we need to respond. But to a person in pain, our words (if heard at all) can be fingernails on a chalkboard.

Must we be compelled with words? Or do we allow God himself to show up?

People need relationship in their pain. A wise shepherd knows when to speak, when to ask good questions, and when to allow space for silence. Sure, accurate theology has its place and time. My favorite definition of theology is “faith thinking.” You do it whether or not your brain is engaged. You can’t not do it.

Get comfortable with your own heart. Too many folks live life at a heart-numbing pace. Let's be real. Some of us wander over into ministry (or run hard into it) with the conscious/unconscious goal of working for God. When we work, we can focus on something other than what God wants to say to us.

Are we so fixated on representing God, speaking his words, or accomplishing tasks that we neglect our own souls? Our own relationship with God?

Maybe we keep the noise level loud enough that the stillness and quiet required to hear God will never find us.

Or will it?

When a whisper doesn't work, what will he do?

As my True Love walks into the kitchen and finds me staring at a grocery receipt in tears because the cashier charged me for two bottles of marinara instead of one, he pauses.

He knows.

No words are needed.

For a moment I feel Jesus enfold me in those human arms.

It’s a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Human history has seen many and may see more before the King comes to restore our world. I believe him, not because it makes me feel better. Not because he’s Santa Claus. Not because he gives me what I want. Not because it’s about me.

I believe him because he's real. Because the story isn’t over yet. I count the blessings so I can see them. And go to sleep believing bright hope will come tomorrow.

Kelly Arabie is a freelance writer with experience in church ministry and pastoral counseling. She enjoys heart-level conversation and guiding people to care for their souls.

February02, 2015 at 8:00 AM

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