God’s Least (or Most) Endearing Quality

“God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness.” Apostle Peter

“If I were God, or God’s West Coast Rep, I would have a much more organized and predictable system.” Anne Lamott

“There is evil cast around us, but its Love who wrote this play, so that in this darkness Love will show the way.” David Wilcox

One thing is clear: God is a Drama King. Yep, I’m calling him out right here right now.  He’s a histrionic to his core.  And a simple soap opera won’t do for him.  He’s a lush for the stuff of nail biters.

Like take this trivial little story for instance.  Its an old one and a cold one, from this past winter.  So I hope you’re sitting in a warm Summery place as you read it.

Flying isn’t exactly fun during Christmas.  As with everyone going on vacation, I just want it to go smoothly so I can reach my destination and begin the relaxation. Such was the case this last year when I planned two weeks off of work.  And the plan was to fly to Michigan to see my family.

A week before our trip, I checked the weather.  Snow storms can explode that time of year in Colorado, making sunny skies a blizzard in an hour’s span.  Sure enough, a snow storm had its bulls eye on the day we were flying out.  I sloughed it off, thinking surely this will pass. We haven’t had a snow storm in weeks. Its been a terrible drought year.

It didn’t change.  The closer we got to the day, the more sure the weather man became that the drama of this storm would indeed be dramatic.  With his tie clearly pulled too tight, the red faced weather man predicted it would hit over night and be the worst mid morning.  We took off at 10 AM.

I was eating the food of my own anxiety.  And right at a time I hoped to be able to relax.

I went to God with a few questions.  “God, what is up with all this?  Are we going to make this one out? Or do we need to make other plans?”  He simply said, “Relax. Don’t worry about it. I have it under control.”  It barely comforted me, but I tried to let it.

The morning of our flight we woke up to a gusty white blowing mess. As predicted, snow-magedon was upon us all.  “Cars were off in ditches all over the place,” our friend told us when he came to take us to the airport.  Even he barely made it to our house.  My heart sank.  How in the world was this going to happen?  We dutifully climbed in the car and made our way to the airport.  But I waived at our house thinking, See you in an hour, little house!

We arrived to an airport full of angry people. Seems Denver completely shut down its airport, an irate passenger told me between sighs of frustration. That’s not the most comforting thought when Denver is just up the road from us.  A gate attendant got on the PA system, “Please do not come forward and ask if you can change flights! We have no idea when everything will reopen. At this point we just need you to sit tight!”

Holding on to hope was getting a lot harder.  And I was mad.  What was God doing here? How could he invite me to relax in the middle of this?

But apparently no one told our pilot about the blizzard of 2012 because we all boarded our plane on time.  My hope rose a wee little bit out of its seat.  Until I looked out the window and could not see the plane at the gate next to us.  The furry of this storm was only increasing.  There was no way humanly possible that we were going to take off in this white out.

And in the impossibility of it all, we taxied out to the runway.  The pilot nosed her down the straightaway, fired up those engines full speed ahead.  And we were in flight.  We were in flight.  The plane pitched and heaved something fierce in the gusting wind. But it only seemed to add to my laughter.  I was laughing now.  Because we were flying, I guess, and God had said we would.

Now I know this was but one little event in the grand merry go round of life.  Its hardly important. I could have just as easily put my headphones on and forgotten about the whole thing.

But as I sat in my airplane seat wrestling with God about it, I realized again what I’ve realized so many times.  God loves dramatic tension.  He loves the rescue, the swooping in to save the day.   He wants to be the hero in whatever way he can.  And he sets life up for us like this so that we need him to show up.

So he pushed the Israelites up against the Red Sea, you may remember, with an army barreling down on them before he parts the waters. Notice: the army was not a day away or a week away, but right on them. They could see the dust clouds from the chariots.  Is it any wonder why they cried out to him?

And in a jaw dropping rescue, he parts a body of water.  A freaking ocean gets halved in two.  No one could have imagined it.  But he saved the day  And he gets a hero celebration afterward.  They dance and sing and weep.  Its a miracle.  Its a rescue with a lot of drama thrown in.  But I guess, can a rescue be anything but dramatic?

Take the time Jesus is in the boat with his disciples.  A storm kicks up.  These guys are seasoned fishermen.  They know how to handle a boat in the high seas.  But not this one, which means this storm is bad, really bad. Finally, one of the men go to find Jesus.  And he’s sleeping in the hull of the ship.  Sleeping?

He calms the storm.  But he’s kinda baffled at why they got so riled up.  I mean really Jesus?  Maybe it was the insanely bad storm.  Nevertheless, apparently, to the Three in One these kinds of things are not a big deal.

Is it more clear? Our God loves dramatic tension.  And can we admit its not his most endearing quality?  I mean do we really need all this drama?  He could make this a lot easier on us all.  But God is pretty committed to setting our lives up so we have to need a hero.

And when things are tense or just plain fall apart, there is no worse feeling in the entire human experience. We hate it. Sometimes it feels like it will kill us.

Until the rescue, until God shows up in his Batman suit to catch us in the free fall.  Its indeed why we love superhero movies. Someone rescuing us from our worst pain and worst fears and fulfilling our greatest desires is the thing we want the most.  And its the thing we love about God in the end. When He shows up and struts his stuff.

That is the best feeling in the world.

On the first cold September morning a few years ago, we got a knock on our door. Some friends from down the street greeted us with an apple pie.  They just happened to have extras and wanted us to enjoy.  But the smiles on their faces said so much more. Amanda and I paused for a punch line that just seemed to be coming.  They started laughing and blurted out, “We are pregnant!”

Pure unadulterated surprise flowed over us all.  These friends could not get pregnant, as in seven years of infertility.  And after all that time, they finally gave up the trying.  And God brought their hearts to a really wonderful place about adopting. But when what seemed like the flu lasted far longer, they just had to check.

What a rescue of their dreams.

But you and I know this is not always the story.  Many people have infertility that never resolves. Planes get grounded all the time for snow storms.  My goodness, planes crash.  And the list could go on and on.  Those dying of cancer or killed in tragic accidents or finding themselves with divorce papers in their hands.  What about these people?

We’ve all wondered if God’s really going to show up when it matters.  There are circumstances that seem so dismal, the drama so tense its tearing. And dare I say we’ve all wondered then if God’s really a sadist, taking pleasure in our agony?

But if he were a sadist, he would never rescue. Every event would build to a climax and then end in destruction and pain.  And that’s the maddening thing: we all know stories of profound rescue too.  We’ve heard the stories of people living massively transformed lives.  A cruel God would never allow for such goodness to happen.

God has a funny way of deciding when the time is right to rescue.  He can stomach a lot more dramatic tension more than we can.  He can let things unwind much more significantly than we feel comfortable with most of the time.  I mean, my goodness, we serve a God who casts death and evil in every one of our stories.  I’m not really at all comfortable with this story line.

If you’re ever going to understand your life, you have to accept that God creates tension for a reason. He’s not a sadist who enjoys your pain.  He’s a jealous hero who refuses to let anyone or anything else in your life be the source of your ultimate hope.

So let me take a minute to talk to all the tense places you have inside.  To all the drama tossing you back and forth – the unresolved struggles of your personal life, the dreams that feel so far from coming true, the sadness you hope one day goes away.  Right there, hear these words: Your story is not over.  Not one bit.  And if you leave room for His rescue, He promises to work every last detail out for your good.  He promises rescue.

Promise.

  • Sallie

    Oh Sam– thank you! You’re just so darn wise, and I am so much richer. In a world where so much seems lost in the weaving, thanks for holding onto the thread so that we can see where it’s woven.

    • http://www.SamJolman.com/ Sam Jolman

      Thanks Sallie! You are so welcome.

  • B Lee Maize

    Definitely words of comfort… Remind me in a month. I appreciate you a ton.

    • http://www.SamJolman.com/ Sam Jolman

      Very glad, Lee. Let me know when you need that reminder :)

  • Karen Christakis

    I was getting all wound up until the last couple of paragraphs. So hope-full! Thank you, Sam.

    • http://www.SamJolman.com/ Sam Jolman

      Ha! Didn’t realize I made the post so dramatic in its delivery :) You are so welcome Karen.

  • Drew F. Hampshire

    Next time you come to Michigan’s left coast, please give me a heads up. I needed to hear these words today, in regards to my hopes for a house to fit this large family He’s blessed me with. Just thinking about what I’ve been believing about this circumstance of mine is usuallymore hurtful than hopeful, regardless of the way I keep saying “If its gonnna happen it’ll only be becausa Him!” Thanks Sam. Thank you….

    • http://www.SamJolman.com/ Sam Jolman

      Drew, I LOVE that this helped to free you from the plot lines that condemn you. Glad its comforting to think of the dramatic tension being by God’s design. Yes, he does it all the time!

      Where are you in MIchigan?? (If we were in person, I’d say show me on your hand of course.)

      • Drew F. Hampshire

        I’m just outside Detroit on the east side but love visting the west side of the state-friends of the men’s ministrys on that side as well. We’re more connected than we both know!

  • Jen

    Jennifer Camp sent me here to read this, and the timing is just perfect. I rather like this Drama King, and I’m learning to appreciate His ways of working, His timing for rescue, more and more. It seems He wants me to hear this message again and again. :)

    • http://www.SamJolman.com/ Sam Jolman

      Jen, thanks for stopping by! Glad you’re learning to love this Drama King. That makes two of us :)

  • http://thebookwormgiraffe.blogspot.de/ Twaambo

    I have not read a blog post that has made me laugh as much as this in a long time!He is a Drama King. Great post Sam,and as he always works it,good timing!