I had a fairly challenging night the other night at work. When I got home, I found myself wondering if I had done the right things—not because I had said or done anything wrong, but because the situation itself was so incredibly bizarre that there was a lot of room for reflection, introspection, and generally being conflicted about the entire matter. I struggled with societal beliefs and ideas about judgment versus the immeasurable and boundless nature of God’s love in the face of really unpleasant circumstances. I wrestled with the various roles and responsibilities I have, along with moral, ethical, and spiritual values that I hold, and looked at how to best mesh them in the situation. And while I cannot go into details on the subject itself, I had a very meaningful conversation with one of the chaplains where I realized that times like this are when spiritual beliefs work. After all, if they don’t work when the going gets rough, what good are they? In the conversation with this chaplain she asked me how I dealt with stress, and how I felt my beliefs helped me to deal with this situation the way I had. I shared how I had grown up in the Episcopal Church but now loosely define as a Nondenominational Charismatic Christian, and that as my beliefs have drastically changed over the course of my adult life, my views about God, love, judgment, heaven, and hell have changed as well. I explained how the core foundation of my spiritual beliefs now begins with the premise that we have a God whose nature and essence is, above all else, pure love. I spoke of how this God of immeasurable love does not send us to hell or whatever one believes is a negative afterlife, but that we in our own limited thinking choose our own inner darkness over the surpassing love He constantly extends toward us, but that even our own ability to choose darkness in the face of God’s love is like pitting an ice cube against a forest fire. The ice might last for a few brief moments, but ultimately it doesn’t stand a chance.
I heard myself saying that in this situation I had a choice to make, whether to choose to sit in judgement in a situation where that wasn’t my job to begin with, or to choose to walk forward in love and compassion regardless of the outward circumstances, and that it is this undergirding belief in the immeasurable goodness of God that provided the encouragement for me to do so. As I replied, I found my own words to be somehow very therapeutic, and they seemed to touch the chaplain as well. She literally thanked me for being the person to deal with the problem, and for being someone who could share love in that way in a scenario that needed it. I realized that while the situation itself was taxing in a hard-to-describe way, I felt blessed that I had the opportunity to manifest the love of God there. I began to gain a broader perspective on how God had orchestrated things, positioning me in a unique way to become the solution to the problem.
I was reminded that THIS is when spiritual beliefs work.
Jesus instructed the people in Matthew 5:14 saying that we are the light of this world. When darkness threatens to close in and doubts, fears, and uncertainty seek to steal the life from a circumstance, the love of Jesus Christ that has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit IS the means by which we light up this world with the ever-burning flame within us. In any situation, God has prepared us to become the solution to the problem. He has positioned us to carry His love into dark circumstances, and even as we do this, like a holy virus that love spreads out in ever-widening circles, transforming those we come in contact with. I don’t know that I will ever know the true extent of the impact I had on this situation. I know that I am blessed to have been a part of it, and my wife pointed out it was almost as if I passed a test. I believe that my words, much less my actions, touched this chaplain in a profound way—and not because I even meant to. She was helping me, and in doing so, I believe I ended up encouraging her in turn. It is humbling to know that this hope we have in Jesus Christ works even in those times we aren’t meaning for it to. That His transformative power works in us whether we work on ourselves or not. That in the same way that water wears down a rock over time, the river of God’s love flows through us whether we are paying attention or not. In the end, this is the true test of whether spiritual beliefs work or not—when in our weakness, God is strong through us. Go be the light of the world, but don’t try so hard. Just go and be, and watch the God of Wonders do His thing.