One of my favorite T-shirts says, “The best things in life are dangerous.” It was given to me by good friend, Ryan, who left it on my doorstep and ran away. Maybe he thought I was dangerous? Or maybe I wasn’t home that day.
When my 8-year-old nephew, Kevin, saw me wearing the shirt, he said, “Yeah, the best things are video games.”
“Video games aren’t dangerous. You just sit on the couch and push buttons.”
“They’re dangerous to me.”
Maybe I should take him rock climbing again, something with real danger.
So I was thinking about that conversation (and T-shirt) Wednesday morning when I received this text from one of my guys: “Lost the baby.” He and his wife had been waiting so long to get pregnant again, and there were so many ups and downs, and false starts, and we were hoping this time would work.
Tears dripped on my phone as I read the text. I wiped them away quickly before I experienced the corporate protocol for handling a crying cubicle-mate.
I wrote back, “I’m so sorry. There’s nothing fair to it at all, and hard to understand.”
“No, not fair, but I remember: “He’s not a tame lion, but He’s good.” Life is and will be wild, but the Father is able to do great things in the midst of painful life.”
“It’s hard to imagine the lesson or strength to be learned while you’re in the middle of it all. Maybe the only thing to know is ‘Follow Me’.”
“Follow Me is enough. He knows the way. We don’t. We don’t have to find answers or solve anything. We don’t even need to know the path or destination, just trust the one ahead on the trial and follow. It’s a lesson that I am always learning and doubt I’ll ever fully master. At least not on this side.”
My friend is not only brave in the face of emotional danger; he is a wise and battle-tested man. His comment reminded me of E. Stanley Jones, writing in his mid-eighties, who said, “There are scars on my faith, but underneath those scars there are no doubts.”
The previous night, Tuesday, another friend got the dreaded visit to his front door by a police officer, who told him his college-aged son was in a serious traffic accident only moments after leaving home to return to school. Later that evening, when I went to the hospital to stand with them, they were already surrounded by members of their Sunday School class and other friends. Everyone was nervous about the accident and the young man’s injuries, but braver during this dangerous episode because they had each other.
So Wednesday morning, back in my cubicle, I sat at my desk trying to type a text into my phone, hard to see through wet eyes, wondering: Is this what a life of faith looks like? Is it always going to be bad news? Am I OK with that?
Yes; not always; and yes.
What I have to remind myself is that people go through pain and heartbreak every day, but many of those people have only their own wits to depend on for solutions and healing. Gordon MacDonald wrote: “… we feel the seismic vibrations, the crushing events that are, if we are not careful, life threatening, career ending, health breaking, marriage and family dividing, spirit destroying.” (Mid-Course Correction) A life of faith means we have the God of the Universe to help us, and it means we can know the hope of a bigger story being told, even though we cannot understand it at the time. Again, from MacDonald: “A defining moment or choice identifies people of character, but when you get close, you usually discover that the extraordinary thing they’ve done is merely a reflection of the way they live the rest of their lives, whether you’re around to see it or not.” That is certainly true for both families from both stories.
A life of faith means we don’t have to walk the dangerous trails alone. We can lean on each other during the rough parts. It is only because of our faith in God that we can find a way forward when the news is good or when the news is bad. And because of that faith, we can move through the best and dangerous parts of the journey, living the epic story in which God has placed us.
P.S. So during the same two days, another young couple in our adult Bible study class gave birth to their first child. The life of faith isn’t only about surviving pain, there is also hope and joy. And epic stories yet to be told.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32
To learn about Berry’s books, “Running With God,” go to www.runningwithgodonline.com , or “Retreating With God,” go to www.retreatingwithgod.com ,… Follow Berry on Twitter at @berrysimpson or on Facebook … Contact Berry directly: firstname.lastname@example.org … To post a comment or subscribe to this free journal: www.journalentries.org