2016 was the year that my generation learned about lost icons. 2017 seems to have continued the theme. It’s actually about our age, of course, as we reach our 5th decade we invariably begin to lose the heroes of our youth, including our parents and even close friends who succumb to unexpected circumstances.
It’s not just a matter of life and death, either. Health troubles come in a variety of forms, both physical and mental. Long term relationships and marriages dissolve that we never even guessed were in trouble. Career and financial reverses come from nowhere. “Things fall apart…” as Yeats famously wrote.
It’s tempting as a long time preacher to blithely quote the Apostle Paul here: “But thanks be to God who gives us the victory!” Okay , that’s out of context, but you know what I mean. Now please understand, I believe in the solace of God. I know He will bring comfort and hope in difficult times, but sometimes it’s super hard to hear.
I’m basically a joyful, hopeful person. My faith has been fairly unassailable through most of my life, even when I haven’t managed to live up to the purest standards of it. Thank God for grace. My one core level issue as a Christian, that wasn’t related to my own sin, was the feeling that I had never been tested, had never been through anything. My family stayed together. There were no serious bouts with disease or anything, and the bad things that did happen I managed to compartmentalize and release or, in a less healthy manner, ignore. But that was then.
The last few years have brought into my life and the life of my family a veritable series of reversals and problems, both personal and professional. Most of them are documented in this blog. Between the onset of mental illness in our family, the loss of my parents less than six months apart, and several disappointments and losses within our little church, it has been a tough run. This last Sunday I prayed specifically about how much we could use a win, because it felt a lot like we were losing. And here’s the disturbing part, my confession if you will: I have been waiting for the other shoe to drop, as the colloquialism says.
The all-too-human part of me wants to elaborate. He loses today.
Here’s the thing, we can’t sit around and expect the next bad thing. It’s not hopeful and it’s not faithful. Without faith, the book says, it’s impossible to please God, so that expectation of doom is tantamount to sin. I am, of course, trying to work and pray through it all. I know where I need to be.
Sure, the other shoe is gonna drop at some point, but I need to start expecting that the shoes dropping from the sky are dancing shoes! Maybe they aren’t what I want. Maybe they keep falling like a hailstorm of kicks from a dark, angry sky, but they can be shoes of celebration. Tap, ballet, jazz, hip hop, all these expressions of future joy that currently batter my life, waiting for me to comb the yard after the event, find a pair that match and seem to fit and dance!
I’m not there yet. I have been, I will be again, but right now I’m not. My prayer is the same; we really need a win! I know Truth, He has held my heart for over forty years now. But Psalm-like, I thought I would tell the small truth of me while stoking up the fires of my hope in the larger Truth of my Lord.
With one eye closed, I squint into the sky and say, “Any moment now the other shoe will fall.” Oh, God, let it be dancing shoe!
Addendum: Two things. One, not my best work, thanks for your patience. Two, it seems utterly ridiculous to post this in light of the Manchester bombing. Please join me in praying for the families of the victims. They most certainly need a win more than I do.
Lord, give us peace.