Is it me, or is life confusing? Living in a world filled with paradox is such a mystery; it has posed such a pother in my simple mind. Dark cannot dwell in light; chaos diminishes peace; deception disguises truth. So, how can both grace and grief dwell so cooperatively within me?
A few years ago, my daddy came in the house with an image on his digital camera. The image seemed black and white because it displayed a barren, winter-worn patch of ground. As the snow had changed form and disappeared, brown, lifeless land lay beneath. The unique aspect of the picture was a bright, yellow crocus- the "first of the year," as Daddy proudly announced.
The picture was spellbinding. The lifeless ground giving birth to such a lovely form of life truly took my breath away. I asked for a copy and for years that picture signified a great paradox: God can take what appears dead and, with an abundance of creativity, He brings forth beautiful, colorful life.
Yes- God is the Master of creativity! This should not come as a surprise. He created a bright and beautiful world with His spoken word! So, why am I so confounded by the concept of a paradoxical heart? Why should I battle the feelings that the Lord so creatively instilled in me?
As Iíve ponder this perplexing puddle, I might have stepped into a muddied, yet marvelous assurance: I am not the first to be confused by the contradictions of the heart. I am in pretty good company.
Take for instance, King David... David was a man of great passion. He fought a giant and won; he fought temptation and lost. Yet, he loved God through it all. His joy prompted song and dance while his grief aroused tears. He understood the grace of God as he begged, "Create in me a clean heart, Oh God." He knew that God would forgive and he could move beyond his sin. David did not doubt the goodness of God. Still, he knew the feeling of pain- even in the midst of grace. He experienced the loss of a child and observed the obscene sins of his other children. He was fully aware of the love of God, while mindful of the pain caused by sin. Psalm 119:136 shows his heart: "My eyes shed streams of tears because people do not keep your law."
I wonder if David struggled with his inner inconsistencies; Did he question his own faith? Did he feel judged as he cried for the souls of those around him?
David, like me, was simply human. One might guess that our perplexities could have been self-induced. However, Jesus-God Himself- also demonstrated grace and grief simultaneously. Even people who claim to have an inability to learn Scripture can quote John 11:35: "Jesus wept."
Why did Jesus cry? His friend, Lazarus had just died; that could cause tears. However, Jesus knew what was about to happen. He is the same God who sprouted a little yellow flower in the midst of a brown and lifeless ground. He was the One who could bring forth life in spite of death. I believe Jesus wept at the unbelief of those whom He loved. His heart broke as the very people he had come to save chose to reject the life He so humbly offered.
We cannot possibly understand grace as Christ does. As He hung on a wooden cross, He still had the compassion to assure the thief who hung beside him that he, too, would soon enter into Paradise. That's grace! That is a delicious, delightful, divine demonstration of delectable grace!
As I have tiptoed through this emotional mire, I may have gathered a clearer glimpse of this perplexing paradox. I can bask in God's glorious grace. I can jump in his genuine joy! But- for me to mourn the unbelief and rejection of others is not wrong. The intense grief that I often carry is not sin, but an inexplicable desire for those whom I love to join me in celebrating life in Jesus Christ. I don't want to live as a simple, yellow flower in a seemingly lifeless soil alone. I want to rejoice in a colorful garden grown in the Indescribable Grace of God!
(Scriptures are taken from the English Standard Version.)
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