But still, sometimes I wonder.
As Conor and I drove home from our Thanksgiving dinner, I found myself at a crossroads. Sellers was merrily chatting in the backseat, and it just hit me: I'm either going to believe this stuff or I'm not. God, either You exist and I can't figure You out and I'm really, really mad - or this is totally a hoax. Can you seriously tell someone they don't exist? What's the point of saying it at all?
I know I'm not alone. I'm one of a million people out there - and that's just this second - who are suffering. Angry. Hurting. Shattered. Heartbroken. Confused.
There are millions - millions - of people in India who spend each day defined by a caste system that their government long ago declared unjust and antiquated. These people - men, women, children - are called Dalits. Untouchables. Literally. Their children are unable to dip water from the local wells because their sweet, innocent hands are considered unclean. And yet, as I type, more and more of these precious people are hearing about Jesus and deciding to follow Him. Why do they believe? Why do they sing His praises, even as they suffer?
It's hard to wrestle with God. Somehow it feels wrong. I find I get quite hung up on "wrong" and "right." And really, that's what makes me angry. As long as it's all about the rules, life's just going to be one long irritation. There has to be more.
Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." I want to follow that Jesus. The One who says to me, "Just as you are... come to Me. I know how to handle it. Bring Me everything." Maybe it's not so much about 'rules'. Maybe it's about the best plan - the Way to get the most out of life.
In John 8, Jesus is teaching in the Temple and a group of religious men bring before Him a woman who has been caught having an affair. As the Message says, "They stood her in plain sight of everyone." Imagine this girl. Her embarassment, her anguish, her shame. The leaders who drag her to stand before the crowd suggest to Jesus that Moses' law - the rules - call for her to be stoned. Stoning might have been something this woman had seen before. Bloody. Merciless. Brutal. I can see her eyes filled with fear, blinking back the tears, cast downward. As Jesus listens, He does something peculiar. He kneels down and writes in the sand. For a while. The Bible says that the leaders "kept badgering Him." Maybe He looked up at her downcast eyes before He stood and said, "The sinless one among you, go first. Throw the stone." And with that, He goes back to the dirt. Perhaps it took some time, some grumbling, some irritable huffs of indignation, but eventually, they leave her. Every one of them. The oldest ones go first. And then it's just the girl. And Jesus. Sweet Jesus. How must she have felt? How in love was she then? "Woman, does no one condemn you?" He hadn't looked up. He wasn't watching. She was no spectacle to Him. "No one, Master." "Neither do I. Go on your way. From now on, don't sin." Imagine her heart thumping, her eyes brightening, her tears welling up - but this time, for victory, for life. "Master." She is His. He is hers. She knew the 'rules'. But now, now she knows the Savior - she knows that she is accepted and loved. Now she calls Him "Master." Now, she chooses life. And we, like her, can choose it, too - because no matter how we stumble, we will continue to find life in His eyes.
This is Jesus. This is why I love Him. Because I know I am loved. And because of that love, that love that is deeper and higher and wider than any other love I will ever find, I want to be different. I want to believe. I want to rest, despite my unrest. I want to surrender, despite my need for control. I want to honor Him, despite my desire to please myself. I want to be and do everything I can't be or do on my own. This is the Jesus I want to follow. This is the Jesus I want to show people.
And this is the Jesus that the millions who suffer on this planet choose, time and time again. The Jesus who gives us strength to walk through seasons of life that call for our total destruction. The Jesus who equips us to love those who reject and abuse us. The Jesus who sees potential and ability in our weaknesses. The Jesus who invites the questions, the anger, the frustration, the tears, the sorrow, the heartache. "Come to Me..."
And so I come. I am a seeker of hope. I thirst for joy and happiness and laughter and peace and something - something that feels like lightness and promise. And if what I have believed of this Man does not help me to piece together the broken parts of my story - well, then, there is more to believe.