Do you read “Ann Landers?” “Dear Abby?” Maybe, “Ask Amy?” I do: not so much for the gossipy kind of stuff you get, or to take pleasure in hearing about other people’s problems (making mine seem less), but as fodder for this ministry blog.
If you do read these columns, even only once in a while, I hope you also think, “How can they say that?” They say they have a wonderful spouse with wonderful children and a wonderful marriage of x-number of years, then say that they think their husband is having an affair, or their kids are on drugs, or their spouse is excluding them for no reason!
Or any other number of serious problems. And how often are they the real problem, but they fail to face it?
I appreciate the difficulty of writing a column like that, although the one thing you never have to worry about is, “Gee- will I have enough mail from people with problems to write a full column today?” That is the easy part- there will be plenty of mail if you offer to answer people’s problems. The hard part is being correct in determining what they should do.
These “advice columns”, as they are called, are to me a clear and present example of just how many lost sheep there are in the world, with no shepherd because they haven’t turned to God. The world is a godless place not because God isn’t present, but because the world refuses to seek Him out.
Maybe if God was to write to Dear Abby, it would read something like this:
I have a wonderful relationship with many of my children, which has lasted since I created them, and I have had a lot of kids, but there are so many of them that just won’t listen to me. I have given them life, food, water, and shelter; I have told them and showed them how much I love them, and yet most of them look to others for love. They sell their souls to my worst enemy because he offers them the things I know are bad for them. I just feel like they don’t love me anymore, and it was so nice in the beginning. All I want is for them to have a wonderful and joyous existence, but they just don’t want to listen to me. What can I do? I even sacrificed my first born son so they can have these things, but they reject Him, too. Here I have given them the opportunity to have total joy and peace, forever, and they choose something that feels nice for a moment but will lead to eternal pain! Help me, Abby! What can I do or say that I haven’t done already to make them listen to me?
That’s a tough one. I don’t know if Abby can handle this one: I know I have no “pat” answer. I guess the only answer one could offer is that this is how some people are- they just refuse to listen, to do what is best. Maybe God needs a bit of a wake-up call, i.e., maybe we need to suggest to God that when He gave us free will He set Himself up for heartache. If we, as humans, can make our own choices about what we want to do, then there will be those that will choose the wrong things. And God, since you did give those kids their own choice, knowing that their hearts are sinful and self-absorbed, why would you be surprised when they choose the enemy’s choice tidbits and immediate rewards instead of the hard road that You offer? True, Your Son Yeshua went through a lot to make it possible for your children to find their way home again, but that path is hard because it goes against the world’s desires. You offer them the best that there could ever be, but not when they want it, and not the way they like it.
That’s true, isn’t it? God offers us eternal joy and peace, but not the way we want it, and not when we want it. Maybe God knows better than we do? Maybe God knows something we don’t? Maybe this life isn’t all there is, and maybe this life wasn’t meant to be all we have?
Maybe, just maybe, this life is nothing more than preschool for eternity? Really! In preschool we learn to develop our muscles and motor skills, we develop our social skills, we learn to play with others, we learn how to speak better, to do things better, and we even get sick faster, which gives us anti-bodies which make us stronger and healthier when we grow up.
Preschool is how we learn to survive in the world, and life is what we are given to make our choice where we will spend eternity.
Maybe the answer to the question I hypothesize above is simply that God knew what He was doing when He created us, and when He gave us free will, and He has done all that He can do. Just keep loving us, and be happy for the ones that choose Him over the world and the enemy. He has made salvation available to all His children, but only a very few, a remnant, will choose life.
This past weekend we were reminded of the choice that Yeshua made for all of us: He chose to do His Father’s will. It cost Him a lot at the moment, but He gained everything that there ever will be that is truly wonderful. And He gained it not just for Himself, but for every one of us. All we need to do is accept it.
Many, many people, and most of the ones I know and love in my own circle of friends and family, have chosen to accept only what they want to accept, even when (I think) in their heart of hearts they know they have chosen what is easy and not really what they need to choose. It is easier to think that all I need to be is a “good person” and I will go to heaven, which is what many people are taught. If that is true, then why did Yeshua have to die? What is “good”, after all? Is it “good” according to the world or “good” according to God? If God is the judge, then shouldn’t you be doing what He considers “good?” He tells us what He considers “good”- doing everything in the Torah. It’s that simple- live your life in total accordance with the Torah and you will be “good” according to God’s definition. Well, “good” luck with that! No one ever has (except Yeshua, of course), and even though it isn’t all that hard, we just can’t do it. Not every minute of every day. So what is left? Yeshua’s sacrificial death, that’s what: and that is why being “good” isn’t going to be “good” enough! So wake up, people! Get with the program! You need to accept Yeshua as your Messiah AND you need to accept your own sinfulness. You’re NOT a good person; at least, not in comparison with God’s definition. That’s OK- it doesn’t mean you are a bad person, it just means you are a human being.
Accept who you are and what you are so that you can accept Him. Being baptised when you aren’t even old enough to know your right hand from your left isn’t going to make any difference, and going through some religious ceremony (when you are told by parents and religious leaders alike that you have to do this ) won’t make any difference, either. Catechism, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Baptism, Confirmation: none of it matters if you did it because you were told you had to, and not because you wanted to choose God. That’s a hard word to hear, but it is one that will set your feet on the path to life, so take the carrots out of your ears and hear! As Yeshua said, “Let him who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
I am saddened when I read about these poor lost souls who need to get personal and spiritual guidance from a newspaper. Nothing against the people writing these columns, but really? A total stranger in a cubicle somewhere is telling me how to be loved and how to treat others? Isn’t all that in the Bible? Didn’t God tell us how to live, how to treat others and how they should treat us? Can an advice columnist give me eternal joy? Can a newspaper be as influential as the Bible? Is the Op-Ed better for me than the Word of God?
Go to the source, read the ultimate User’s Manual, and get your head on straight! This past weekend we have seen and heard of God’s deliverance; from Egypt, from sin, and from destruction of our very souls! Are you listening out there? If you are, and if you have made the choice Yeshua made, which was and is to do God’s will, then go out there and show people. Let your light shine on their darkness, and let them see what a difference God has made in your life.
I confess I am no better at demonstrating all the wonderful things God has done for me than anyone else. I ask you to be better than me at showing what God has done for you, so that maybe through you someone else will make the right choice.
One less letter to the newspapers, and one more soul in heaven. That’s a trade-off I can live with!