Thursday, February 07, 2013

Sleeping at the Wheel

I would give anything
But for the grace of God I'm here and still aware
We know the end is overrated
We've become the walls we raise
We don't believe enough but we still care
Standing on the edge without a prayer
So come on, come on, it's all we've got
Our hands are full, our lives are not
The loose affiliation with the real
We're sleeping at the wheel. -Matchbox Twenty

A niggling, prickly restlessness has been growing in my spirit for some time now, unsettledness about my own faith and that of the people around me.  Talk is cheap.  Promises are hollow.  Words mean nothing when they’re not followed by actions.  I believe is a boldfaced lie when it isn't followed by and because of that, here’s what I’m going to do about it.

We can say we believe; we can say we’re people of faith - but are we acting like it?

Life is hard.  I get it.  Really, I do.  As people in my generation get older and we no longer have the protective shelter of our parents’ homes or our parents’ money or our parents’ reassurances to comfort and coddle us about what special snowflakes we are; as we go out and face the big bad world which, frankly, doesn't really care and expects us to show up and earn our keep, our faith is tried and tested and twisted and changed.  I’ll be there is easy to deliver on when you have all the time in the world, but in the real world, we don’t.

So I ask again – what are we doing about it?

Let’s bottom line it here:  what kind of faith do we want?  Do you want a pat, cotton-candy “belief system” that pacifies us by the “power of positive thinking” into believing that everything is perfect, wonderful, sunshine and fairy dust, and then the bottom falls out when things go wrong?  A “religion” that’s a band-aid?  A “doctrine” that’s a placebo?  So many of us have been living in that magical bubble of a fairyland and simply don’t know how to react when, as our Lord Jesus assured us it would, tragedy strikes us and the people we claim to love.

Or, instead, do we want to engage in active, living, mature relationships with the Creator of our souls that push us to be better, to do more, to step up and prove that we mean what we say when we say we have faith?

What do you want?  Do you want a faith that honest-to-goodness changes you, matures you, grows you, and improves you?  Do you want to know a God who isn't content to leave you the way you are, but instead wants you to be all you can be for Him and His glory?

Or are we all just sleeping at the wheel?

I used to call myself a “hippie dippy Christian flower child” and was proud to do it.  I thought I was being accessible to people of all faith walks.  But that’s not good enough anymore.  Now, I’m taking an even firmer stance.  I don’t want to be a hippie. I don’t want to just frolic around a field or in a forest making like the world is perfect and everything is wonderful and nothing bad can ever happen.  I don’t want to be an ostrich with my head in the sand, ignoring the needs of God’s children in a fallen world.  The thing is, God never said that our lives would be perfect.  In fact, He said the exact opposite.

I want to be a radical, fanatical, genuine Christian.  I want to be just like Jesus.

I think it’s high time we started being real with each other.  This isn't just about holding hands and singing Kumbaya on Sunday mornings or affirming each other on Wednesday night and doing whatever we want the rest of the time. Don’t get me wrong, those things are great; but there’s so much more to it than that.  It’s about love – real, unconditional, unwavering love.  It’s about stepping up and doing what’s needed.  It’s about being loyal when loyalty counts and being on the other end of the hug or the phone or the table or the prayer every single time.  It’s about meaning what you say and saying what you mean.  It’s about sticking by your word.  It’s about showing grace to those who disappoint you and forgiveness to those who hurt you, just like Jesus did.  It’s about saying “I love you” and then showing it, over and over and over again.

I have seen so many people who have been devastated by others not being there for them.  I've seen so many people profess love and affection when things are good, but they’re nowhere to be found when the skies get rough.  They don’t show up by the sickbed.  They’re absent at the memorial.  They won’t visit the prison.  More than that, they can’t even entertain the idea that those types of things could even happen.  They can’t talk about the real stuff, the uncomfortable stuff.  They flake out.  They run away.  They’re just, very simply, not there.  Their “belief system” doesn't have an answer for when life happens and stuff gets real.

I hate to admit it, but I’m guilty of the same thing.  I've not shown up when I said I would.  I've made excuses for how busy I am or how hard my life is so I don’t have to deal with tragedy.  I've pushed people away and put up walls rather than admit my own mistakes or insecurities.  I've kept quiet out of “meekness” when I should have extended a word of comfort, kindness, or support.

That’s not real faith, and I’m sick of it - in myself and everyone else who claims the name of Jesus.

So what’s the answer?

I don’t think there is just one.  But right now, in this moment, after living through more than half a year of more tragedy than I've seen in any nightmare, I’m taking a stand in my own life.  No more excuses.  No more whining.  No more running or hiding or flaking out.  It’s time to decide who we’re going to be, and in Jesus’ name, I am a Christian woman and that means something to me. 

Lord, help me to be more like You – every single time.

How about you?