“A laugh freed forever and ever” wrote poet Patrick Kavnagh in his description of Jesus’ resurrection. If true, then today is Easter Monday. Tomorrow is Easter Tuesday. This summer is Easter summer. Jesus’ resurrection is not a holiday hope but an everyday hope for the believer. Jesus dances on his own grave, forever. You’ll dance with him, forever. Jesus’ resurrection will give you the daily strength and courage needed to face head-on the painful sorrows of life, and bear the deepest scars of life. In fact, His resurrection simply means you will get the last laugh…forever.
Last night Christie and I had the pleasure of seeing Fellowship of Performing Arts’ C.S. Lewis Onstage (“The Most Reluctant Convert”) performed by Max Maclean in New York City. My assistant and dear family friend, Denise, gifted tickets to me and Christie for Christmas. She knows how to speak my love language!
Prior to the play we enjoyed dinner at a restaurant where the seating is uncomfortably close. Vintage New York City, I’d say. We were so close to tables beside us I could have reached out my arms and embraced the couples sitting next to me. I considered it.
Upon the arrival of our food I took Christie’s hand and we gave thanks to God. Later, Christie and I couldn’t help but overhear bits and pieces of the conversation at the table to my left. I wondered if our praying invoked their conversation.
One of the gentlemen said, “I’ve been thinking about life a lot lately.” Broad chatter followed. Then one of the women, perhaps in her thirties, said, “It’s a good thing we don’t believe in anything so we can live how we want.”
Pause. I have not been able to shake her statement. I’ve pondered how I might have responded to her comment had I the chance (or courage!) to address it. At the least, I can therapeutically take to my blog and offer a few thoughts.
1) Her view is an example of the exception proving the rule. In other words, without her even realizing it she declared that there is something, indeed Someone, to believe in. Something, Someone, to give our lives to, to live our lives for. But she’s glad she doesn’t believe that.
2) She holds pleasure (“we can live how we want”) as the supreme virtue. Author, Dale Alquist, nails it: “We do not live in a truth-seeking age. We live in a pleasure-seeking age.” Her very statement rang so hollow it makes me sad. In fact, there seemed to be this tinge of an unsatisfied “sigh” by those at the table. As G.K. Chesterton once wrote, “The very fury with which people go on seeking pleasure is a proof that they have not found it.” Her words and the sigh at the table megaphoned that reality.
3) Her belief, or lack thereof rather, is woefully superficial. She is not thinking deeply enough (see #1). I told Christie last night that I am becoming more and more convinced that those who deny and/or defy the Christian faith, whether atheist or agnostic, simply are not probing deeply enough internally and intellectually (I understand that is an offensive and sweeping statement that I need more space to unpack. But for now…). To not believe in Truth does not make Truth go away. To not believe in God does not make God go away. To stake one’s forever on such shallow thinking and believing is staggering to me. Forever is a long time to be wrong.
4) The foundation of her statement was doubt. I’ll let Dale Alquist speak to this:
“One of the great modern fallacies is that doubt, or skepticism, is somehow more profound and more honest and more intellectually pure than belief. But it turns out that doubt is usually reactionary and shallow and prejudicial and inconsistent. We cannot build a philosophy based on doubt. We cannot build anything that is based only on tearing something else down.”
5) I wonder if she refused to believe in anything, in any religion, or namely the Truth of Christianity? In my experience it’s usually the latter. Christianity is that to be denied or defied primarily. Chesterton wrote: “Opponents of Christianity will believe anything but Christianity.” Indeed, as Chesterton stated elsewhere, people who begin to fight Truth for the sake of freedom end up flinging away freedom if only they may fight the Truth.
I have prayed for that lady today. I prayed that she might discover the Truth, the person of Truth—Jesus. I prayed that she might become the next most reluctant convert. Perhaps you too….
George Bernard Shaw once wrote, “There are two great tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart’s desire. The other is to gain it.”
Heart’s desires, soul hungers, push us away from God or to Him.
Sexual hunger: The desire to fulfill our passions sexually lest we die.
Relational hunger: The desire not to be alone lest we die.
Emotional hunger: The desires, needs, and longings, to be filled lest we die.
Spiritual hunger: The desire for more lest we die.
To satisfy your hungers your way simply leads to more hunger—emptiness, regret, even pain. That is the great tragedy. The initial sweetness becomes stale; the shine, dull; the memory, haunting; the satisfaction, fleeting.
This was once the tragic story of my life.
To satisfy your hunger God’s way and in God’s timing leads to cosmic joy… and satisfaction.
This is the triumphant story of my life today.
How to satisfy your hungers God’s way? Jesus. The One who died… for you.
Seek. Trust. Obey.
Then tragedy becomes triumph.
In this new year, let us…
1) Be content. “A person cannot receive one thing unless it is given him from heaven,” said John the Baptizer (John 3:27). Contentment is found in being faithful to the Lord in all matters and fully entrusting the outcomes to Him. The Lord gives… and He takes away. It’s all ultimately up to Him. So blessed be the name of the Lord.
We think if we just had the wit, the time, the energy, the likability, the education, the smarts, the talents, the finances, the relationships, the opportunities, the faith, the gifts of another, then wow. We would make much more of a difference in people’s lives and God’s kingdom.