We are tired. Real tired. Weary. We Americans wear faces of spiritual exhaustion.
We are busy, but there is little joy. Our lists grow longer, but the rewards diminish. The fire in the hearth is just a few smoldering embers. We wonder most days – what has happened?
The irony is, we know. We know what happened, and we even know what is missing. We know that we have long lists of things to do, but sadly, we are not on them, and neither is God. We know that somehow we either sold our soul, or it got ripped off. Our hearts have been mugged. Our spirits sag. We droop through our days.
We know why? It is all the fear and worry. We dwell in a dark dank culture which seeks to swamp us in fear. Our worries swarm. We have been led to believe that we are never enough. We fall short all of the time. As for Time, well, we buy it, we kill it, we try futilely to make it, and we waste it. Oh, how we waste it.
We have reason to worry. Greed is accepted as the norm. Being mean is fashionable. The inability to compromise or change is witnessed as a sign of principle. We march in place in quicksand, and we call it progress. We claim happiness and look and act miserable. Even our faith feels a farce. Too rigid. Uptight. Exclusive. Judgmental. Grace less.
There is so much missing. True family or neighborhood. Genuine community or church. Creativity. The celebration of diversity or ordinary. Intimacy. Friendship. Depth. Questions and doubts and scintillating mystery.
Our children know no stories, and they are addicted to a technology which offers them the world, and delivers it to them in trivia and mind numbing data. They do not know how to play or pray. They seem so old, and act so childish. Their imaginations rust, and their wonder rots.
Most of all, what is missing is hope. I am not sure we believe we can change. We function like lemmings. We seem pretty battered and beaten. Like the long term badly abused wife, we simply gird for the next beating. Our faith is reduced to silly bumper stickers, and we make the wilderness our spiritual home. Heaven is not to be brought to earth, but to serve as the reward for having endured Life.
Still. It is there. The sparkle. The twinkle. The melting heart that moves us to tears. The lumps which swell in our throats, and the butterflies which flutter about our stomachs. We have our moments. Even whole days. We yearn to be lifted up to higher ground. We long to be the magnificent people we were created to be.
And there it is. To be. Not to do. Hope comes from a state of being. It is the blossom of a winter’s solitude and silence and stillness. Hope is formed from doing nothing, but being everything God would ask us to be.
Hope is the road less traveled. A road without a GPS. A road which wanders and has dead ends and closes for repairs. It is a way of seeing and thinking and feeling. It is a path which narrows at the end to a dirt trail. It does go over s steep cliff.
I am a minister. I am in the hope business. It is not a fun job these days. I envy the evangelical preachers who dismiss doubt and wrap up their easy answers with big biblical bows. I wish it could be so simple. But I believe it is not. Our faith must push beyond the Bible. The Bible is a catalyst for inspiration, not the Algebra book which gives the answers in the back.
All I seem able to do is point people toward Grace. Nothing more and nothing less. I have no time to spend on the foolishness of debating who has the truest truths. I have contempt for those who claim to have Christ in their personal back pockets. I just have a holy hunch that Grace can be found in every nook and cranny of this life of ours.
As for Jesus, well, I have never believed in Christ more fully or strongly. Strange. Ironic. But I do. The myth and the message and the ministry and the mystery, they all speak to my heart of hearts. They call me to joy. They invite me to forgive. They challenge me to love, even those I have a hard time stomaching. They beckon me to mature. Every day. Grow up!
These are the sacred stories which make sense out of the mayhem of my days. These are good stories with good people and good endings. This Jesus, I suspect, was and is the event of Grace. Brought Grace to Life. Made it real for us. Made us believe. Jesus spun a fine yarn with his life, and we get to nestle under its woven coziness. Hope must be dipped in a daily coat of goodness.
No, this is not a call to wear a faith cloak of excess calm. This is a call to a life with just enough calm, that our actions can finally be focused on building the Kingdom. Here. Now. In our time. Until the end of our days. It is my hope, a habit I seek to daily develop, that we become good builders on this good earth, of a Kingdom of peace and justice and equality and an enjoyment so deep, it too passes all understanding.
He told us we would be weary. He told us to come home. He ran down the road to greet us. He washed our feet and perfumed our hair. He fed us and clothed us. He washed away our tears and the scars of our sin. He shared story after story after story, about how we would find our hope at home. The humble dwelling of God is in Kansas not Oz, and we can find rest for our weary souls, only when we can be wise enough to shout with ET, “ET go home!”
Reverend William R. Grimbol has spent the past 30+ years helping people create and develop strong spiritual connections with loved ones and God. He is also a published author, with over a dozen books to his credit.