What Makes Me Angry Infuriates Me

I am angry. I am angry at the fact that thousands of people die every day and enter into an eternal state of complete separation from God. From God who is the source of all that is good. I am angry at the fact that slavery is still very much alive in our country and that my city is in the center of it all. I am angry that sin and immorality are rampant in the world. That people—even children!—all over the world are without clean water and humane living conditions.

That makes me angry, but what really infuriates me is that so many Christians are doing nothing about it. It infuriates me that the only thing many Christians think about is themselves. It infuriates me that many guys cannot reach beyond their own weaknesses. It infuriates me that many Christians are so self-conscious that they are not willing to abandon all to follow and obey Jesus. It infuriates me that Christian men tear families and churches apart because of their pitiful beliefs. It infuriates me that personal convictions have become a bigger issue than the Gospel. It infuriates me that godly people throw themselves into useless head-butting discussions on social networks knowing that their arguments will not change anybody. It infuriates me that Christians care more about their rights then they do about the souls of their fellow humans. It infuriates me that people are content with their shallow lives. It infuriates me that many people think rightly, but actually do very little.

It infuriates me that I see much of this attitude in myself.

So many Christians are chasing the wind. So many men think their only job on earth is to provide for their families and be comfortable, and so many young people are obsessed with their next date or party: all they think about is themselves. I wish I could ask them if they are really content with the shallowness of their lives? Don’t they want to make a difference in the world? To utterly spend their lives for Christ? Or is their selfish flesh and peer pressure so great that it keeps them from having any meaningful life at all?

It is easy to look at shallow people and judge them, but what about those who are religiously shallow? Do young people simply walk away from God? Or could it be that personal convictions and doctrines become too important and regulated that they strangle any life out of church? Are the particular beliefs people hold dear so important that they are willing to sacrifice the souls of young people, and the souls of those who have never even heard the Gospel?

I hope not.

The only thing that matters in life is that we have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Any conviction, any social work, any significant choice should be born out of that relationship. Jesus is the holy, perfect, just, loving King of the Universe. We are sinners completely lead astray and deserving of Hell. If we want a relationship with the perfect King, we, the very imperfect humans, must play by His rules. Let’s read the Bible and obey it! Let’s not try to reason it all out, legislate it, add to or subtract from it, just obey it. Let’s remember that Jesus is holy and perfect, but vehemently loves you and continually forgives you when you repent. Let’s remember that our purpose as Christians is to proclaim the Gospel. To do anything “Biblically” yet forsake the Gospel is worthless, but to proclaim the Gospel and forsake the Bible is like trying to run a business without money.

Let’s focus on Jesus. Just love and obey Him.

C.D.

Advertisements

The Canvas

There stood the white canvas on its easel, with a chair, all alone in a lush green meadow. Beyond the canvas in the distance towered a jagged blue range of mountains, and behind the canvas a dark forest was stretched out reaching for the great blue sky.

The Great Man approached the canvas, brush in hand. He sat down and began to paint. He painted and painted, loving every stroke. He painted His favorite things, which were from His heart. Once He had brushed out the setting, He added a new thing. He painted a figure resembling Himself, into the picture. He liked it and smiled as He sat back and stretched. He thought His picture a fine piece of art—and it was.

The Great Man’s servants came to look at the painting. They marveled at the new figure resembling the Great Man. With awestruck worship they began to sing for Him. The Great Man loved how they sung, and it made His joy greater.

But something strange began to happen on the canvas. The figure which the Great Man had painted started to drip off. The servants were shocked. Right there before their eyes, the painting’s most amazing figure was messing up the whole piece. The Great Man was devastated: He knew what had happened, and He knew what would need to be done in order to reverse it.

The Great Man sat down again and began to paint like never before. He painted with passion and love for His painting. He always painted what would ultimately make the picture more beautiful, but sometimes the figures in the painting did not understand. Sometimes the little figures thought that the Painter was making things worse—some even questioned whether the Great Man existed, or maybe He had forgotten about them and was letting the painting drip away into oblivion. The Great Man loved the painting and the figures, and He knew that if they would just trust His strokes, they would eventually understand His love for them, but they had become stubborn in their dripping.

The hardest strokes for the figures to understand were those which took other figures out of the picture. But the Great Man knew that sometimes figures had to be taken out in order to perfect His plan, and reveal His glory and love to them. If the figures had feared the Great Man while in the painting, He would breathe true life into them so that they could live in the Great Man’s world—the real world. But if they had not feared Him, they were forever separated from His guidance and presence—a most horrific thing.

Finally, all was ready for his plan to take affect. He gathered the servants around Him so that they could watch. And again He sat down, but this time He did not paint more figures resembling Himself. Instead, He painted Himself right into the picture.

The servants did not understand. What was going to happen? The Great Figure spent much time in the painting while the Great Man continued to paint. After much painting, the Great Figure dripped all over the canvas, just as the other figures did, and mixed up all the colors. But when the Great Man began to clean away the mixed colors, the servants saw that there were some figures that had stopped dripping. These new figures were beautiful.

“I love them!” the Great Man said.

The Great Man continued to paint. Fervently yet patiently He stroked out the figures, who sometimes dripped, but when they looked to the Great Figure who had been sent to save them, the Great Man forgave them.

He, the Great Man, did not intend for the dripping figures to remain this way forever—His plan was not finished. He decided that there would come a point on the canvas at which He would quit painting and discard it entirely. But first He would transpose all His beloved figures, who had been saved from dripping, into this awesome World wherein the Great Man painted. It was a much greater World than that with the drippings, and He knew the figures would love it there.

This was His plan and He was determined to continue painting beauty onto the canvas until He came to that one point. He loved each of His figures, and because He loved them He had given them the choice to look on the Great Figure for help, or to continue dripping. If they did look at the Great Figure, they were saved, if they did not—they were lost forever. It broke the Great Man’s heart to think that any of the figures would be forever lost and forgotten, but He restrained His passionate love in order that they might respond to His calling on their own accord.

If you were a figure, what would you chose? An eternal Heaven? Or a temporary painting?

C.D.

[Not] an Accident

Imagine the scene. Tuesday, November 6, 2012: Election Day, a presidential election no less. The nation is attentively watching President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney, who will win?

Somewhere in the deserts of Colorado a teenager opens his eyes, sensing commotion coming from everywhere. He feels the cool November air against his skin. His body tells him a story he does not understand. He shakes his head and looks around but what he sees does not commute to his brain. He is in tremendous shock. The fact that he is in a vehicle of which the roof is creased and the sliding door is shaped like an awkward ‘v’ registers nothing with his senses. All he says is “What? What?” and even those words mean nothing to him.

The young man realizes that there is a woman leaning through the driver’s window of the vehicle. She is talking. He finds she is attending to another woman: his mother.

He finds the word: “Mom?”

Suddenly his senses are beginning to actually make sense. He sees that his sister is no longer in the passenger seat. Yes, she had been in the passenger seat and is now walking around talking on her cell phone. There is another girl with her, also using a cell phone. Forgetting that his seat belt remains fastened around him, the young man makes movement to get out of the back seat he is in.  The strange girl puts her hand out and tells him to stay put. He looks confusedly at his sister as she says, “Christopher, we’ve been in a car accident,” and “It will be alright.” The dots begin to connect.

I am that young man.

I woke up to a new life that day. I became one of those motherless teenagers. I began a journey I did not ask for, but one God entrusted me with.

I could give you a full report of my mental processes. I could tell you of my tremendous pain, or I could tell you about how awesome and peaceful God is. But you know both are true and to speak of one without the other would be incomplete. We have to face it, life is painful. Yet, the pain we encounter does not negate God’s goodness, in reality it is our own fault that pain is in the world. The pain I have encountered has helped me to realize the importance of one’s view of God to how one reacts to life.

I believe God is sovereign and in full control of the universe; I also believe that God is completely good and the very definition of love. But one cannot reconcile His two characteristics without remembering that, firstly, it was we who brought pain into the world and, secondly, God has a plan. I could scream and holler and relieve my pain and guilt by calling God unjust for taking my mother; but I do not—I cannot—because I know that He is completely loving and therefore MUST have a better plan in mind. Mom is enjoying perfect bliss away from pain and one day I will join her, but until then, God has a marvelous plan which is somehow better through her death. God makes no mistakes, He knew exactly what He was doing when He allowed her to die.

All I know is that from the moment I awoke, I had a very strange calmness about me.

I looked around the vehicle. Oh yes, I remembered my new red backpack, no longer next to me on the bench seat, but on the floor. Instead, with me on the seat was a shattered car window—everywhere. I remembered that my sister’s name was Kristi and that we were in Colorado for my brother’s wedding.

I remembered a dream I had while unconscious. It was a weird dream about a truck coming straight at me.

As an EMS lady helped me out of the minivan, I saw a black book wedged beneath my mom’s jarred seat. I knew it had significance and I desperately tried, to no avail, to make my brain think of what it was: my dad’s Bible. I pointed at it and she asked me if I wanted it, I believe I nodded. Once put on the flat, hard, plastic board with a brace strapped onto my neck, they allowed me to hold the Bible close to my heart.

At this point memory filled my brain as water fills a bathtub, slowly but steadily. Mom, Kristi, and I were on our way to somewhere in the city of my brother’s fiancée, when apparently we were in an accident.

My neck hurt.

The ambulance ride was very uncomfortable, but what should one expect when strapped to a board and unable to move their neck? The EMS lady with me in the ambulance asked many questions. She asked me who the president was, I told her Barack Obama, but added hopefully, that it might change.

I do not know why, but they did not use sirens for me. In fact, I heard my sister’s ambulance pass me while I was stopped at a traffic light (or something). Apparently they were not too concerned about me. Maybe it was because I had answered all their questions right, or maybe they saw the tears I shed as I heard my Dad’s voice call out my name and as I saw the faces of my brother and his fiancée. My sister, though, was in shock. Shock has killed people. And my mom? She was life-flighted, but she would be alright, I just knew it. She had to be alright. She was Mom.

When we reached the hospital they swiftly pulled me out of the ambulance and pushed me through the emergency area into my room. It was like being in a movie—only much worse. This was real life—that is what shocked me more than anything.

The next few hours could be described in one word: waiting. I am told it is standard procedure for victims of a car accident to be cat-scanned for any internal injuries. Of course they did not find anything. I could have told them as much.

My memory was still weak at this point, but with every familiar face I saw, the memories returned. It is hard to imagine the significance of a familiar face until one no longer has them. Seeing friends all around me kept me from despair.

After both Kristi and I had been scanned, they wheeled me into her room because “my sister wanted to see me.” I thought they were referring to my sister Kristi who was healthy and wanting someone to chat with. (I did not know that because of her concussion she could chat with the same person and talk about the same subject over and over again for hours and have a wonderful time.) I soon realized it was Carita, my other sister, who wanted to see me.

I was hoping above hope that she would say Mom is okay and the life flight was an unnecessary precaution. That Mom would be at the wedding. Instead I heard those accursed words: “Mom’s heart couldn’t take the trauma.”

How does a teenager respond to this? Both my sisters began to weep. I was confused. The knowledge of death settled into my mind and I too began to weep, but the reality of it all remained very far away.

I declare that God is still good. This response does not come from Christopher Witmer, but from Jesus Christ who lives inside of me and all followers of Jesus. Yet, the goodness of God does not remove the pain; in fact, it may be God’s goodness which allows me to feel pain. It tells me I am alive. It forces me to ask questions—to be honest before God and express my heart to Him. It forces me to worship God, because the only other response would be anger and hatred towards God.

I am on a journey. You are on a journey. Each journey is different, but each journey must encounter pain. How will you respond to the pain that you WILL face? I have found coming before Jesus is the only thing that calms my soul. It is easy to get caught up in other pleasures in order to distract my soul, but only Jesus gives me the peace which allows me to say that “I am in pain, but God is good.” He is the healer, the miracle worker, the peace giver, the sovereign God, the Almighty, the Beginning, the End.

Who am I? I am a sinner, I cannot lie. I sin. I have sinned, I do sin, and I will sin. I do not flaunt this as something to be proud of, but I simply admit it. I am a fallen human. But therein lies the key–the mystery. Through my confession of guilt, I admit my need for justification. I have disobeyed the Lawmaker, but that very Lawmaker has justified me because Somebody came and paid my fine. I am a sinner, but Jesus served my penalty and justified me. So now, I am a child of God. I went from deserving Hell, to being an heir of all that is good. Now God, in His mightiness, can reach down and lavish upon me all His rich goodness. In reality, I am no different than the “unsaved,” but I have accepted God’s forgiveness and have had my relationship with Him restored. The wall between He and I has been torn down. I am no different as far as my tendency to sin, but I live with the constant expectation that Christ will develop growth in me—that He will sanctify me. I have an even greater hope that one day, He will glorify me with all the believers and this crazy body will no longer desire to sin.

God is the One who sustains you through pain. Pain is a necessary process in life. It helps us grow, but no one can properly respond to it apart from God. Develop a relationship with God. In the end, anything else will be consumed, as fire consumes wood; but a relationship with God makes you to pass through the fire and come out pure gold.

C.D.