It’s just not that simple…

I have a friend who is also a minister and founder of a ministry to war torn countries in Africa. I heard him speak last week with his very thick French accent, but perfect English, and his message was so powerful – full of grace, boldness, power, and gentleness. Yes, all those things together. He spoke of loss…of loved ones, of life, of freedom. He himself lost many family members to the genocide in Rwanda. He had to sweep his family away to safety. He’s been in prison, tortured, beaten, threatened. But his joy is so full and contagious. His life is one that I would not even begin to truly understand…going to a depth that I can only imagine. Nothing simple about his life, nothing simple about his journey. But if you asked him why he has so much joy and contentment in his life, he’d say it is very simple – that his life is full and complete, lacking in nothing, because God has directed him all the way, and he has laid everything at His feet.

My daughter is going through a pretty tough time, and she gets angry when anyone tries to “help” her work her way through it. No one understands, she says, everyone thinks it’s all so simple. No one is going through the same thing. It’s all too complicated, it’s not as simple as everyone says it is.

Well, she’s right. But she’s also only half right. Because there is another side to the coin. One side is very complicated and detailed, and unless you’ve walked in her shoes, don’t try to help her. But the other side is very simple and easy. There is a way out of all the complicated mess. And we all have the opportunity to walk in that direction. When my friend from Africa says he’s found the peace that passes all understanding, it’s because he has received it in the midst of all the complicated messes of life, through Jesus Christ. He in no way minimizes the struggles of others…his whole life is dedicated to helping them. But he has that simple peace of heart and mind that only God can give. He’s lived the hell of hardships, and he chooses to walk hand in hand with Jesus. He probably has to begin that simple walk daily, starting fresh every single day as he wakes up to the harsh reality of a complicated life. But somehow, he does it. Oh, that I can walk in the same direction…that my sweet daughter can do the same.

I heard someone say recently that obedience is God’s love language…”if you love me, you’ll keep my commandments.” No, it isn’t always easy. Sometimes we may think we won’t survive. But God can truly give us a resting place in the midst of it. It’s just that simple.

Heavy sigh…

I love my children, even when they don’t see very far beyond their noses. And it seems that for the past several years, that distance hasn’t changed much. I know God sees the big picture in their lives, and I’m thankful. I’m also thankful that He is the Holy Spirit to them…as much as I want to see them take the right path, the better road, I cannot make it happen. I’ve learned more about how little control I really have, in their lives and my own.

But no matter how much I know I can’t do, I still have the desire to see them make good and wise choices. Easier said than done. Heck, I still make foolish choices, so I certainly can’t expect them to be all wise and knowing. My prayer right now is that they can reach into their hearts and pull out what they know is strong and good, and then, with humility, lay it down before the Lord. They have the foundation…so I need to bank on the promise that they have been trained up in the way they should go and that they will return to it. One day…

We all need to be free of self, and only the Truth will set us free — not our “understanding of who we are.” I know it’s hard to face that truth, especially when we see the parts of self we really don’t like. When we read something or hear something we don’t like, we don’t want to listen, and I think it’s usually because we don’t want to face those areas of ourselves where we really need to change and grow. Who likes someone else telling us that we need to change? When faced with the truth, we’d rather run the other way…it seems easier. But in the long run, not only is it not easier, we’re missing out on great blessing and growth which helps make us stronger and better people.

And our motivation needs to be love…love of God and others. As we grow, as my children grow, I pray that we will be motivated by love and service to those around us. Then we will truly understand “who we are.”