A message has been bubbling up for weeks now. The way that I have come to recognize the Spirit's movements has been in... well... everything. Whatever it is starts to be repeated in conversations with my friends, in sermons I've heard, in readings I have for class and conversations with my cohort. It comes up over dinner. I'll see something on a sign that is worded exactly the way I heard it an hour before when a line in a song stood out to me that had not paid attention to until now. This layering of one message continues until I notice it and claim it. When I realize there is a theme then more information builds and builds until I have learned something new, something that changes me forever. I chose to trust this. It doesn't matter to me if it is coming from some nestled, internal desire or if it is coming from the Lord himself. The fruit has been good when I follow these leadings, so I continue and I trust them.
This time, the message came slowly. First, it was a frustration that I could not articulate. Something missing from the pulpit, something not being mentioned by leaders who I thought should understand, something I longed for, but I had no words to articulate. I watched it start to disappear from people I love, it was missing in reports from the world, I heard it in the hesitations, cautions, and fears being voiced around me. Years have gone by...
I started to feel it creeping up in my own heart. It came in the form of doubt. Then that turned to fear. It's hard to trust God when you are nourishing fear. I have lots of people who journey with me in faith and I heard their feedback- I was becoming cynical. I gave myself permission for it. "I've been hurt and I need to heal." I get to feel this way if I need to, or rather, if I want to. It is my choice. It was always my choice to let the doubts seep into my heart or not.
In class Saturday, there was a reading about how we will be received in heaven. It left me with a message that I am not totally sure was ever actually worded in the poem itself. "There are two ways that you can enter the Kingdom of God. You can come in dancing for joy or you can arrive on a stretcher. The dancers join the feast and those on the stretchers go straight to God's ward to be healed. Which one do I want to be?"
God, I know which one I want to be. It was comforting to imagine that both receive the care and love of the Lord, but I know that I want to arrive full of gratitude and joy (no matter what I believe heaven is). To me, the point is simple, how do I want to live my life now?
I want to live in joy! I only know of one way to live in joy- you have to have hope.
We visited a church on Sunday and the pastor said this simple phrase, "The opposite of cynicism is hope." Consider that for a minute.
This was the phrase that was being pieced together in my heart for months. There is no hope in cynicism. When I am cynical, I am too fearful of being hurt and disappointed to hope that what I am saying might not be true. This is not present living, this is not an open heart, this is not my natural state. Cynicism is me living on a stretcher; too hurt to take a leap of faith. Life is in the leaping! I want to dance! I want to be hopeful. I desire hope and hope breeds joy. In joy, I can truly love and trust in the Lord of all creation. I choose hope and with hope, I know I can live well.