images and text (c) 2013 by Marilee Miller
There are no trees in the top photo. What is seen is only the deep shadows under the trees, cast onto a sunlit lawn. However, when I played with a shadow-image my graphics program, some unexpectedly intricate patterns emerged from the hidden murk. (Note: apparently I didn’t take note of the actual photo from which I extracted the ensuing designs, but this one is very similar.)
Beauty Hidden Underneath the Murk?
There are a lot of jiggles and murky, odd corners in my life and thoughts. Sometimes my circumstances appear to be unsolveable puzzles. Life-defeating. Nevertheless, let me go on hoping that there are hidden patterns of exquisite beauty just waiting to be discovered.
Some people have decided there is no God, or if there is, he must be a cruel God, to allow so much evil. Why would a God who Christians say is a loving God, permit such evil in the world? Why does he allow us to suffer, to have problems?
Yet, which one of us is equipped to decide what is good, what is evil? Why should folks blame God as if he caused too much evil? After all, it is humankind that keeps choosing to be vicious, greedy, violent, selfish, power-loving. Some people start wars. A lot of others look after themselves and maybe their kin, but don’t see a purpose in helping others.
Sometimes, wise parents have to allow their children to get hurt while discovering how to act, what not to touch. Children need some kind of freedom in order to learn. If they’re overprotected, their maturity can be stunted.
What if there really is a God, and he’s like a loving parent educating his children? Let’s say we have a choice. We can come to him -- the only way we'll ever learn true peace and forgiveness -- or we can keep on inventing our own gods of selfishness, pride, anger, and hate. (Some of the traits that answer why there is so much evil in the world.)
And then, let us remember that many good and kind people in this world demonstrate genuine kindness, love, and honesty. Where and how did they learn, in the midst of all our human failings, to be altruistic and caring? Perhaps God was the role model, however unconscious some of us might be about his moving in our lives.
God’s Faithfulness Is At Work In Me.
I'm learning that I don't have to "feel" the emotions of faith in order to choose to let God's faithfulness work in and through me.
I can understand why some people have become disillusioned by too much hurt. I hope everyone will open themselves to entrust their personalities and their futures to the One who I believe is a loving God, in spite of all the unlove thrashing about in the world of men and women. I can’t prove, by “reason”, that there is a loving God. But I have chosen to trust the experiences of countless persons who have come to believe in his faithfulness. And so I choose to trust. That’s called “walking by faith, not by sight.” He who hung the stars in place, and created the universe -- and us -- is big enough to cover all, even if for some that means suffering or even premature death.
I choose to be "looking toward the blessed hope of his glorious appearing", which means I believe Jesus Christ will take to heaven some day those who are willing to ask him for his peace and rest and his way of living, even if it means we suffer, or die young, in this life, Oh, how I long to be with him forever: see him face to face, in eternity. (And if that story is just a myth, well, I'd rather go on believing that, even though it turned out not to be true, than to accept what seems to me to be an invention -- that we only have this life, we can do whatever we please, no rewards and no punishments and no repercussions if we hurt ourselves or others, and then when we die we're gone forever and there's nothing left, so we might as well eat, drink, and be merry now.)
Keep Looking for God.
I hope those who question God, will be willing to keep looking for him. I’ve made a choice to think he understands that we have doubts and fears and unreasonable moods that don't want to go away. I also believe he loves us still. He holds out his hands and says, "Just come. You don't have to pretty yourself up, or learn to be ‘good, or fix your life before I'll accept you. Just come, and let me carry you and your burdens."
Will you come? Will you at least think about that idea? The God who waits for you, who WANTS you, who LOVES you, doesn’t block every harm that can damage our fragile bodies and minds. Then we’d be merely robots, or puppets. God isn't some cosmic Santa Claus handing out pretty presents that we think will make us happy, when what we really need, is to know that he will let us "belong" to him. We all need to feel we belong somewhere. And he's the one we can belong to. We can't trust ourselves not to mess up. Relatives or friends may not be there when we need them. We can’t wait for the government or an agency to act, or expect some whimsical fantasy to come true so we can “live happily ever after.”
It will often seem like God also has let us down. But that's because we are too focused on what we see as a mess of unsolveable puzzles. But God sees the whole picture, from beginning to end. And he has promised us that he is creating hidden patterns in us which make us beautiful and valuable to him. The shadows aren’t murky, and the corners aren’t odd, to him.
We are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” We are unique individuals. And God is waiting for us to discover that he is there. He even says he can make even bad things work for ultimate good in our lives, if we come to him. Isn’t that good news?
Sharing with Laura Boggess --