The following is the introduction from a sermon I’ve pieced together but have not yet preached. Therefore, it will hopefully raise thoughts and questions inside you even while not being the complete sermon. I’d love to hear your feedback on the intro and what thoughts, questions, emotions, or needs it brings to your mind. But even though I am keeping the rest of the sermon close to the vest, I give you the intro to: “You Better Say It Now.” The next section is “Cling To What You Do Know” and is found here.
It is entirely possible that you may not get all the answers in life you are seeking. You may never actually know why things have gone the way they have, good or bad. I’m going out on a limb, but whether or not you’ll admit it, you’ve one time or another possessed the following words in your soul: “God, if you have something to say, you better say it to me now.”
Most of us have at least felt like this at one point or another whether we dared enough to actually speak the words. I don’t care who you are: we’ve all had at least one or two moments where we felt we needed answers… that didn’t come. And realizing that they aren’t going to come isn’t fun.
Nobody likes to look like they’re spiritually clueless… or worse… a failure. And most of the time, most of us don’t. This is true of all people everywhere. But sometimes results aren’t great, life gets weird, circumstances get beyond our grasp, and things get tough. They get tough because sometimes we fail, and sometimes these fails are epic. Just Google “Epic Fail” on your lunch break. Failure attracts attention; sometimes sympathy, but usually ridicule. That’s just the world we live in.
Failure and hardship are tough pills to swallow, but are at the same time a staple of the human diet. Some of us have a plan that includes failure as a path to whatever, and that’s good. We gotta learn from that stuff. But let’s get real here… Even the best of us (and I don’t care WHO you are or think you are) will face #FAIL barriers to where we’re headed in life. These barriers are built with bricks of doubt and despair and held together with the cement of regrets mixed with fear. It doesn’t happen all the time, at least not for most of us, but it does happen. We try everything, and I mean everything to get through these barriers in life. We try to climb the walls, take a new route around them, and even try knocking them down. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t. But the point is not proving these times exist in life. We all know they do.
Barriers leave us stuck. Like a major Highway Traffic Jam where the only vehicles moving are the cop cars on the shoulder. Like an insect stuck on that nasty old-school flypaper stuff you see hanging from the ceilings in your neighbor’s garage when you have to go over there to get that tool he borrowed and never returned. Stuck like Han Solo in Carbonite for the geeks out there. Stuck like that guy who had to lop off his own arm with his swiss army knife in that 127 hours movie. Stuck like… whatever else you can conjure up… or whatever you remember. And you do remember, don’t you? You have a real memory of how life at some point closed in on you one way or another, to the point where you felt like you were stuck, and nothing you did and nobody you talked to had all the answers. Maybe you freaked out, and maybe you didn’t. But you still remember that time either way.
Man this is depressing!
Christians hate admitting when they have no answers. Well, we always have “answers” but we certainly don’t always sit shotgun rolling down the highway with what we believe. We have the cross of Jesus Christ and the empty tomb, after all. So when life gets weird we start quoting verses we’ve supposed to believe and tell everyone how great things will be soon. We do it because we believe it. We do. We do it because we hate it when people around us don’t do that. We hate it when people melt down over life and implode, because we’ve had to fight so hard not to do the same thing. We hate the aura of people who constantly talk about how difficult everything is, how mean everyone has been, how alone they have felt, and how hurt they feel. Why? Because we’ve had to tough it out on our own, keep the peace around us, without dumping our baggage on others, and not admitting a lack of faith to anybody. We absolutely hate being around these other people, because they remind us that there were a couple scandalous moments where we were also full of doubt inside… and didn’t puke it up all over everybody else. We hate seeing these people on display, because they’re the artsy version of our own struggles we’re trying so hard to keep down and out of sight to others or even ourselves.
Hate is such a strong word. That’s why I used it.
What about God? What about the Bible? There are certainly enough passages that speak to our circumstances, struggles, and doubts. We still believe them; we love sharing them with others. Even in the Bible, Job’s friends went at great lengths to comfort and explain all the difficulties going on in his world. And Job tried his best to understand as well, only to have God slap him down with the old (paraphrased) “I built this place before you were born.”
Nobody likes to study the book of Job. Don’t act like you don’t agree. It shows us how misguided the advice of our closest friends can be, and how NOT entitled to answers we actually are. The book of Job ends with Job being back in the game the way life used to be after losing everything… but there is no explanation given to the reader and definitely not an answer given to Job. On an encouragement level, the book of Job can seem like the equivalent of being on 4th down with not a lot of time on the clock. So we skip Job in the Old Testament as often as we can to let us believe that God will always show us the clear way or give us all the answers. We skip it so fast we don’t see it pass us by and then we mostly forget it exists. Some of you might admit to this.
Let’s face it: It is entirely possible that you may not get all the answers in life you are seeking. You may never actually know why things have gone the way they have, good or bad. Once you accept this truth, it may just be that you won’t be stuck at one of those big brick barriers in life where you’ve sat there asking “why?” for so long. There’s no shame in asking God for answers and being honest with him. You may find yourself with nothing other than faith and questions without answers. You may find yourself desperate. There is nothing wrong with finding yourself there.
Just don’t stay there. And don’t quit. No, don’t just quit. Keep moving, whether you have all the answers or not. Keep moving even though it feels like everything is stuck. Sometimes we change direction, and sometimes the road you are on suddenly changes in front of you. But keep moving. A moving car is easier to steer. A parked car isn’t going anywhere. It is entirely possible that you may not get all the answers in life you are seeking. You may never actually know why things have gone the way they have, good or bad.
The next section is “Cling To What You Do Know” and is found here.