A lyric from one of my favourite songs goes, “Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss…” Probably not the first image your mind conjures when you think about your faith. But it’s a better analogy than you think. The song was written in the wake of the composer’s best friend’s sudden, tragic death. So in the midst of this valley, a walk with God probably feels a little bit ugly and a little bit beautiful at the same time, no?
The last few years of my faith walk have brought forth many answers to questions I had, but actually generated even more questions. A lot of amazings, and a lot of but hows too. A sense of belonging, and a feeling of loneliness at the same time.
I read that I am to count it all joy when I suffer (James 1:2), to feel blessed when I am persecuted (Matthew 5:10-11), to love my enemies (Matthew 5:43), submit to my husband (Ephesians 5:22), sell everything I have and give it to the poor (Mark 10:17-22).
So basically tear my flesh inside out and live in a way that doesn’t make sense to this selfish earth-dweller, while keeping my eyes on a prize that is currently invisible but beyond my wildest hopes and imagination.
Sounds easy enough.
The Grand Paradox by Ken Wytsma is, as Eugene Cho says in his foreward, a gut-check. It is a book that found its way into my library a few weeks ago and has helped me define the beautiful, God-breathed mess I find myself in, acknowledging yet not quite answering the questions, but instead begging another question: given all that, will you still follow?
This book is real. It opens up many of the slices of the struggle to live for Christ in this world, including the characteristics of today’s culture, humility, how to view Heaven and hell, true justice, the error in leaning on the health-and-wealth gospel, walking through suffering, religion’s better focus, and of course, the importance of surrender. Wytsma writes as a trusted advisor, validating our wrestle and supporting his thoughts with personal stories and an abundance of credible biblical, scholarly and secular references (my to-read list has expanded once again). This book became for me a safe place to recognize my struggles, to let go of my instinctive urge to find clear-cut answers (but to continue pursuing truth) and to make the space in my life for God’s way that it deserves.