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God is mysterious. That sentence is difficult for me to write. Writing that sentence is an act of surrender. It is an admission that I have to let some things be and trust God anyway. I cannot know the answers to all my questions about why God allows some things, yet seems to intervene in others. Apparently, I don’t need to know all the answers if my faith is meant to mean anything at all. The mystery, it would seem, is the habitat in which faith thrives and grows strong.
Oh, how difficult it is to realize we’ve been wrong about something! For so many of us, it’s quite painful to let go of a long-held understanding of one thing in order to make room for a more expansive perspective or (and this is the worst) an opposing viewpoint on one thing or another.
Many mornings, when I leave for work, my husband is high on a ladder, gingerly removing one of the hundred-year-old storm windows from its hinges and then carefully lowering it to the ground so he can work on it in the garage. When I return in the evening, the result of his hard work is evident: yet another freshly painted window, gleaming at me in welcome.
Being a disciple of Christ is a lot like learning to build a walkway except, instead of YouTube, we’ve got the Bible, the Holy Spirit, and people who have more experience to teach us everything we ever wanted to know. In the beginning, we don’t know anything. But then, as we spend more and more time studying and then practicing what we’ve learned, something actually begins to take shape.
Each of us has had a job that failed to challenge us. We’ve found ourselves sitting at a desk, trying hard not to fall asleep. We’ve clocked in at work only to watch the seconds creep by, wondering if we’d ever get to clock out again and be free from our monotonous, mind-numbing labor. If you’ve had this experience, you know what it feels like to dread Monday mornings with passion, and you know how jobs that fail to challenge us can also deflate our confidence and trample on our hope.
But, what if there’s a better option? There has to be a better option, right? What if, instead of mindlessly scrolling through our phones, we made our boredom work for us, rather than trying to escape it?
Last week, a guy came to our city. He arrived in a gigantic tour bus and he had a police escort and he stood on the steps of our Capital building and drew a great crowd. I knew he was coming. All around town, for weeks, there had been posted fliers and posters and placards announcing his arrival. I saw the announcements, made a mental note of the date, and reminded myself to avoid the area that day.
In his book, “No Future Without Forgiveness,” Bishop Desmond Tutu writes about the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa. As he establishes the foundation of the book and sets out to walk the reader through the work of the Commission, Bishop Tutu is careful to make the distinction between retributive justice, and restorative justice…
Jesus knew the power of compassion. He knew that desiring good for those we have named “enemy” retrains our brains and transforms us, through the literal renewing of our minds. Practicing loving-kindness and compassion makes it possible for us to de-escalate divisiveness and point people toward something more.
Though it’s reassuring to realize that Jesus himself, the Son of God, faced opposition and disagreement, this realization doesn’t always help when we face our own conflicts at work. When it seems as if a coworker is trying to throw you under the proverbial bus, your gut reaction might be to retreat or to lash out. However, as followers of Christ, it’s important to remember that our goal is always to build loving relationships and to live at peace with everyone, as much as it depends on us — even at work.
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