The longer I am here, the more I don’t feel like I fit in. It used to be easy, I just flowed along with what people told me to do, and then, it was doing what I wanted to do either to win others’ approval and fit in, or simply because I liked it. They weren’t always bad things, just things that made me happy or feel good. I used to think I had what I wanted, the world was my oyster, so to speak. To conquer, to change, to leave my mark.
I thought I could. And so I did.
First, it was as an unbeliever, then, as a believer. As a believer and follower of Christ, it was no longer me doing it to leave MY mark, but it was all about doing it for Him, for His glory. But it was always there, that Him and I, we would change the world. Do all these great things together. After so many years, do I still believe that?
But perhaps, not in the way I used to think and dreamed of. The more I have traveled, the more I have moved, the more certain I am of only two things: I can’t change the world and I feel less at home in it than I ever did. My passion and faith in believing that God can change people, that His Word can touch, heal and transform have not changed. I believe that with all my heart. My life hinges on it. But, what I did not take into consideration when I was younger is this: people have been given free will to choose. God can change hearts in His pursuit of a person through love, by moving circumstances, in so many different ways. But, how that person chooses to respond to Him is up to them. That is where it gets tricky for a person who wants to change the world alongside her God. No amount of walking with them, showing them love and kindness and counseling and listening can change anything if a person has already decided they do not want to change. And as much as I want to do more, it is truly not my job to do so. The Holy Spirit needs to convict, needs to touch a person deep where no one else can go. That realization freed me from a responsibility I thought was mine.
I cannot pursue a person to Christ. Only Christ can do that.
Which brings me then to attempt to understand how God can stand loving us. We humans suck. We never learn. We keep doing the same things over and over again to hurt Him. Just read the bible. Just read the newspapers. Just look around. Just look in the mirror. How often has He had to rescue His people in the bible? It is always the same story. “Where are you God, why have You abandoned us?!!! comes the cry after years of debauchery, idolatry, adultery, disobedience and everything else. Again, in His love and mercy, He comes to the rescue. This is played out over and over like a broken record in the bible and in our daily lives. How does He stand to love us? We are truly a heinous lot.
Yet, He keeps loving us. This is the part I don’t get. This is the part that separates who I am from who He is, thankfully for the whole world. This amazing love that He has for us. It is also this amazing love that gives a person the freedom to choose to love Him back or not. A love that does not control a person, but one that gives them a choice.
Ah, then, why do I need to choose if He loves me anyways, you might ask. Because while He loves you, He wants you to live and not die. There is but one consequence to living a life separated from God and that is death. That is not the choice He wants any one of us to take, but He cannot force us to make a decision we do not want to make. We either choose death or life, one comes through separation from God, walking away from Him; while the other comes from choosing to live with Him and walking with Him. We choose. And we also have to live with whatever decision we make.
We have to take responsibility for the life we choose to live, no one else can do it for us. And we cannot blame God for the consequences to our decisions.
This is the reason why I as a human cannot change the world. No matter how hard I try, no matter what I do, I cannot change the world. Because there is free will in others to choose how they want to live and their choices affect others. I can show those who want to know the way, the truth and the life and if they choose to truly follow Him, then I have made my mark in the lives of these. But to change the world as a whole, to end poverty, to end world hunger, to end slavery…that’s not going to happen.
Not while people have the freedom of choice to choose how they want to live and behave, while not caring about how it affects others.
The more uncomfortable I feel in this world, the stronger my conviction that this is not my world, that I am only passing through. But while I am here, I will do great things with Him, maybe not in the way we humans think of that defines what is “great”, but as long as He walks with me and goes before me, it will be great.