I was at a church service recently where the preacher said that God had told him to remind “the person who feels they are alone” that they aren’t because God is there and He loves you more than you could ever know.
In an audience of several hundred, I’m sure “that person” could be almost anyone.
It reminded me of a day earlier that week when I had come home from a long day at work with no agenda for the evening. I recently moved to the coast in Florida so I made a quick run to the beach before coming home for dinner. With more time to kill, I started thinking of more options.
“I could really go for a beer,” I thought. “I know, I’ll have a beer on the back porch. With Jesus. You know, quasi-prayer, shoot the breeze style beer with Jesus. That’s normal, right?”
It was awkward. And kind of pathetic. And it didn’t last very long.
I read a story once of a lonely single girl who finally decided to date Jesus. She got dressed up and went to a fancy restaurant by herself. I can’t remember how it went. I don’t think I finished the story.
Can I just state the obvious?
Having a beer with Jesus is not the same as having a beer with a buddy.
Going on a date with Jesus isn’t the same as going on a date with a significant other.
You can’t have sex with Jesus. (wow, that really sounded weird).
You can’t cuddle Jesus the way you cuddle a newborn.
You can’t teach Jesus to throw a baseball the way you would teach a son.
It’s a bit of a head-scratcher hearing the stories of people who “find” God in the richness of their human relationships. A loner with a checkered past discovers God accepts him the way he is when he visits a church that invites him back. A new parent realizes for the first time what it means to be loved as a child of God now that they experience that love themselves.
So… where does that leave everyone else?
One of the real challenges I keep finding with faith is trying to integrate it into regular, everyday life. It’s supposed to fit, but sometimes it just seems like trying to cram a square peg into a round hole. Then what?
I know the “right” answer is that we were all created to be community for each other (at least I’ve heard that a hundred times). The better answer is probably to wait on God to provide for our needs (relational and otherwise). And the best answer might be to pursue the richness of a relationship with God that transcends circumstances. Maybe the perfect answer is that God is always enough.
But what if we gave up on needing to have an answer at all?
What if we just let things be what they are?
There’s always a space between a need and God’s provision, between a test and a testimony. We wouldn’t be honest Christians if we only told the stories of how God showed up – after the fact. “I got engaged – God is so faithful!” or “We finally got pregnant – God is so faithful!” I’d venture to say that most of us “everyday Christians” spend the majority of our lives in some kind of a gap. I know that because I’ve been there often and many of my friends are there as well. The girl whose husband never returned from the war. The couples who can’t stop miscarrying. The families who move cross-country where every face is a new one. My divorced friends. And on and on. Can someone please profile these stories from the pulpit? Can we at least acknowledge them? “Life really isn’t adding up to what I thought it would be and I sure hope there’s something more out there for me.”
It takes faith to live by faith, but I experience life moment by moment – the good ones and the bad ones alike.
It’s hard to have a beer with Jesus, but…
Don’t answer that. Don’t resolve it. Just let it be what it is for now. At least it’s honest.
Nathan Magnuson is a leadership consultant, coach, trainer, and thought leader. To learn more about his services, visit NathanMagnuson.com/consulting or follow him on Twitter.
- Here I Am - March 10, 2014
- It’s Hard to Have a Beer With Jesus - February 10, 2014
- Stuck in the Waiting - January 27, 2014