I went to church on Sunday, where I lovingly joked with the pastor that I was “three for three, how about that, hurr durr” as you do. Three weeks in a row, open mouth, insert cookie. And I took notes, because I really want to be taking this stuff seriously and thinking about it. The message this week was centered largely around 2 Peter 1, the whole chapter. Peter, at the end of his life, was committed to reminding his fellow Christians of the importance of continuing to grow and add to their faith.
Remembrance is central to Christianity, particularly remembering God’s sacrifice. Jesus gave his life to cover our sins, and that’s not like giving up M&Ms for Lent, y’know? Remembering what he went through, what he said, remembering to DO IT, and remembering all the lessons learned by others so we don’t make the same mistakes, it’s all a big part of being a relevant Christian. This, in my opinion, is why there’s so much repetition in the Bible: why the same stories get told more than once, and why especially in the Old Testament, the same proverbs and psalms and prophecies keep popping up with slight variations. They needed frequent reminders because they kept having the same issues (really Abraham? Telling TWO DIFFERENT KINGS that your wife is your sister, REALLY?), and the contemporaries of Christ and his disciples were in the same boat.
And so, of course, are we.
Except that nowadays we couch our stupidity in bumper sticker slogans. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, tee hee!” And I’m no exception. When I look back through my old journals, I can’t count all the times I had to laugh at myself for not trusting God to get me through whatever trial I was dealing with. Trainwreck after trainwreck, I’d come out the ass-end of the latest Tribulation of the Month Club with some sort of blessing or provision, and egg on my face.
I am trying to remember.
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (KJV)
In John 16:33, Jesus is speaking to his friends shortly before the end of his days with them. He doesn’t sugarcoat the coming tough times, but urges them to remember his words and have faith in his strength. There are numerous other verses wherein he warns them and reminds them not to forget him. He knew they were puny humans with failing memories and even weaker bodies. Jesus knew they needed reminders and would always need reminders, and so Peter and later preachers took it upon themselves to hammer it into our Silly Putty heads, repeatedly.
My life is not (…yet…) as bad as it could be. Lest you think I’m nothing but a rusty complain-o-mat with the dial stuck on “WOE,” I’m very mindful of the numerous one-off blessings I’ve been given in the past few months. Food stamps alone are a massive relief. The ability to use a computer to earn pinches of cash for things food stamps won’t buy, that’s a gift. A functioning free cellphone, however monumentally crappy, is a lifesaving tool. Having a working car, which is only working thanks to the car battery my long-suffering friends bought me, is huge.
But. But. But. There are so many things I’ve lost control of. So many bills I can’t pay, piling up. (Bills that would not be covered by getting a minimum-wage retail job even if I were physically and mentally capable of doing so. Please don’t.) My body feeling brokener and brokener every day, even when I make it to the gym for treadmill time. Pieces chipping off my heart every time I’m rejected or pointedly ignored or gently urged to take the hint already by jobs I’ve applied for.
Still, I am trying to remember.
Rearranging Deck Chairs on the Titanic
The sad truth is that I’ve really begun to believe that my time may be about to run out. I’ve been in trouble before; I’ve been homeless before. Unemployed, depressed, unable to seek proper medical treatment, and generally down-and-out, I have been there. But I’ve never fallen this far before.
I believe God. I know he will never leave me nor forsake me. But I don’t know what that means, in practical terms, for me, in this body, in this life, at this time, now. When the next crisis rolls over me like a poorly-engineered SUV, will God still be there? Of course, but how will I live? When the last few people who could tolerate my Negative Nancy ass finally ditch me, will that mean God has forsaken me? Of course not, but we still need other humans to survive.
I believe, I know, that God CAN do any and everything. Nothing is impossible for him. He is “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,” according to Ephesians 3:20. He can send me a job, a better job than my last one that cost me two years of life, health, youth, and sanity. God can provide a place for me to live, with landlords who’ll overlook my poor credit and who will also pay the mortgage on the house I’m renting from them. The Creator of the Universe can touch my body with his healing hand and fix my physical problems.
But WILL He?
A visiting missionary at my old church once told a story about a time his car broke down. He was in the middle of nowhere, on a lonely, seldom-traveled road. The missionary popped the hood and saw that there was a tube of some sort that needed replacing. (I am not auto-savvy, please don’t bug me about the terminology.) He had no phone and there was unlikely to be anyone else passing through for a long time. So, of course, he prayed. He said, approximately, “God, I know that you can provide me with a tube that will fit into this widget.” As he prayed, he wandered around on the road looking for such a tube among the detritus of past broken-down cars. Sure enough, he found one.
After the service, I approached the missionary. “You say you knew that God could provide you with a tube,” I said. “But did you know that he WOULD?” He was rather gobsmacked by my question, and politely replied that he didn’t have an answer. I appreciated that. I’ll always take an honest “I don’t know” over a balloon full of hot air.
I don’t know what to do anymore. I’m trying to remember all of these things. I am trying not to be afraid and I’m trying to keep moving. Keep going to church, keep reading the bible, keep applying for jobs and keep writing because it gets some of the words out of my head. I’m trying, but I’m losing hope that I’ll recover from this. I’m circling the drain and I can’t swim as well as I used to.