Do you remember this summer, when we were driving back from Michigan, and I was belting out that song on the radio? You might not, because it probably wasn't that big of deal to you-and you are probably wondering why, four months later, I am finally answering that question you asked. Well, because I have been mulling my answer over all that time, trying to find the right words, because I feel like tough questions deserve well-thought out answers.
So, the song came on the radio: "Bulletproof", by Citizen Way. I exclaimed, "I love this song! It's one of my favorites right now." And I started singing along (because, of course, I know every word.) And the refrain goes:
"I--------I don't have to fear no more,
worry no more,
And I--------I don't have to fear no more,
worry no more."
And you said, "Why is it adults always say things they don't believe in?".
Ugh. Nobody likes questions like that. But that absolutely does not mean you should not ask them. Actually, oftentimes those are the very questions you must ask to really get to the bottom of things.
Now, at the time, I did not give you the brush-off. I said something, although it was phrased very poorly, and sounded kind of trite. The kind of answer I hate to give, much less get. No one likes a fake who does not know what they are talking about.
But, as I have chewed on this question, for months now, I have finally come up with what I think is an acceptable answer:
Because we *want* to believe them.
With my whole heart (ignoring the double negatives) I want to believe that I don't have to fear anymore, or worry anymore. This is the twist, though: I *know* it is true-I don't have to worry or fear anymore. But often I stand in my own way, and I don't live like that. I talk about having enough money to pay for bills, or what will happen if yet another war starts, or how I would fall apart if someone I loved died. So I don't live that way.
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life..."
Matthew 6:25 NIV
But I sing those words at the top of my lungs because I serve a God who isn't changed in the slightest by my inconsistency. Who longs to comfort me when I am worried, and promises me that I do not have to fear.
"This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." 1 John 4:17-18 NIV
Because I want to believe them, sometimes desperately, I have to say them to myself, over and over. I sing the same songs, again and again, I quote the verses, repeating them endlessly, praying that the repetition will move them from my head to my heart. I cling to what I know is true, even when I am not strong enough to believe it, to live it out.
Because my lack of action in no way dilutes or diminishes the truth of that statement. Fortunately, my belief, or lack thereof, does not at all affect the truthfulness of the Truth.
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." Hebrews 13:8 NIV
I first learned that verse in Spanish class, in high school. For the longest time, I had to say it in Spanish to remember how to say it in English. But it didn't matter what language I said it in, it was still the same. It didn't matter whether I said it twenty years ago (Eek! I'm so old!) or if I say it today. It doesn't matter whether I believe it or not. He doesn't rely on me to be who He is. He is the same, no matter who I am.
So, instead of wanting Him to be more like me, because no one likes someone flighty, someone who can never make up their mind, someone who is one way one day, and different the next, I choose to focus on trying to become more like Him. Some days I do better than others. Some days, I allow the words I sing to change me, to help me see that I can be more like He is.
And some days, I just sing them because I know them, and I want to remember them, because on those days I just can't seem to get it together. And I try to remember what Paul says here:
"“My grace is enough for you: for where there is weakness, my power is shown the more completely.” Therefore, I have cheerfully made up my mind to be proud of my weaknesses, because they mean a deeper experience of the power of Christ. I can even enjoy weaknesses, suffering, privations, persecutions and difficulties for Christ’s sake. For my very weakness makes me strong in Him."
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (Phillips)
He reminds me that He can be strong enough to overcome my unbelief, strong enough to help me live out what I believe. Strong enough that when I worry, He isn't scared, that He can show me in that what it truly means to fully trust Him.
So know this: I don't ever want you to think I'm the "do as I say, not as I do" kind of adult. No one likes a two-face (except maybe the Joker...). I want to be able to have honest, open conversations. I want you to listen to me, not just because I am an adult, but because I love you and you feel like I not only believe these things, but I work hard to live them out. I will never be perfect this side of heaven. I want you to know that those things I keep saying to myself aren't true because I say them, but because He does.
You can ask the hard questions, because He is strong enough to answer them, and because when you do, you remind me that my faith is more than just reading my Bible for a few minutes every day and going to church on Sunday. It is my moment-by-moment choices, and people are watching. I'm a little further along this thing called life, and I want to be able to help you all I can. Because I love you so much, I think you're awesome, and I know God has amazing plans for you. I pray constantly that He will help me to live in a way that shows you more of Him. And always feel free to help me do, not just say, the things I know to be true. Because I know, but I *want* to believe, too.
I love you. I hope you're never afraid to ask me the tough questions. I promise to listen.