Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Help! Bandits!

I ran through the foggy night. My lungs burned, my legs ached, but I kept running. I had to. They were after me.
Foot steps thundered behind me and I made the mistake of looking over my shoulder to see how far away they were. Nearly tripping over my feet, I turned my eyes forward again. It didn't matter how far they were, all that mattered was I couldn't last forever. The thugs goaded and taunted me when they saw me stumble, but I ignored them. Let them waste their breath shouting, that would actually be better for me anyway!
Weaving in and out of trees, I attempted to lose them. Or at least slow them up. Anything would be better than where I was now. But fate had a way of taunting me.
Just then, I was out in the open. The forest had spit me out into a wide glen. I was exposed, with no cover except going back in the trees where my death was charging me down. I had no choice but to plunge into the fog. I was beginning to lose hope of ever finding a way out of this situation when I saw something through the fog.
It was a light!
The light burned away the fog around it to reveal a small cottage, resting in the center of the glen. I was saved!
Finding a new energy, I ran full tilt for the little house. I prayed desperately that someone, anyone, would be home. I was going so fast that I was almost unable to slow down before reaching the door. I tried the knob, but it wouldn't budge. Locked.


We all get into situations like this. Where life seems to be going any way but our own, where we feel trapped, endangered, anxious. It's just a part of life. But there's a right and a wrong way to respond in a situation like this.

My brother and I were talking the other day about where Jesus said, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."
But specifically we were talking about when life puts us in situations that require us to ask, seek, or knock. Even more specifically, we were talking about a friend of ours. For her confidentiality, we will call her Sabrina.
We talked at length about how Sabrina's faith has been wavering recently and what brought her to that place. We talked about how she has decided to live life on her own, by her own power, proclaiming that God didn't want to help her or could help her. Upon learning of these new convictions Sabrina had, my brother and I were greatly grieved. The girl who was once so on fire for God and ready to worship and share him wherever she went was gone. In her place is but a shadow of who she once was.
Anger, fear, and anxiety have replaced the joy, strength, and peace she once radiated.
My brother, wise as he is, brought up this piece of Scripture, saying, "She thinks God has abandoned her, but he's just waiting for her to trust him to have it under control, instead of fighting for it to go her way."
After several minutes of discussion about the passage, the image of the chase popped into my head.
"It's like being chased by bandits," I said, "and there's a home, a safe haven of sorts in the distance. But you find the door to be locked, and instead of knocking and trusting in the unknown possibility that someone who cares might actually be there to save you, you turn back and try to face the bandits on your own."

Imagine if the character in our story, after finding the door locked, decided to do just that. Tired and sore, alone and scared, he turned back to faced the numerous thugs that assailed him, saying to himself, "I have strength! I can do this. Who says I need some God  to save me. I don't need anything but my own will power! And who's to say there's a God anyway? I mean, if there was, why would there be thugs after me? Obviously this house, this offer of peace and joy is just to taunt me! I mean, it's locked after all. Why would a loving God offer this way out, if anyone couldn't just enter? Obviously there either isn't a God, or He isn't loving, because look at that! There's bandits!"

As silly as this argument sounds, these sorts of questions are asked every day by millions of people. Now, obviously, if you were in this situation in real life, you would pound on the door until your fists fell off, which, for the sake of my metaphor, is the exact reaction you should, but don't always, have spiritually.
I can't answer all of the questions posed, but I will debunk one.
The bandits are human.
Did you see that?
They're human! Just like you and me and the old lady in the supermarket and the President of the United States. Human.
Are humans God?
No. Even though we really would like to believe so sometimes.
As humans, we have God granted free will to do whatever we please. Now you could get mad at God for "letting" the bandits come after you, but then, if he were to remove their free will, he would also have to remove yours. Why? God loves all of us equally. He wouldn't give one special favor over the other. This same free will is what gives you the choice to pound your little heart out on the cottage door, or try to face the adversity on your own.

Now, because the bandits are human and they have free will, they are chasing you.
This brings us back to the question, why would a loving God allow us to be chased by bandits? And my honest answer is I don't know.

But I do know two things:
1) By using our free will to choose our own way instead of God's way, we decide to pretend we're God. We say, "I know what's best for me better than any unseen God ever could." We take matters into our own hands, and some of the choices we make lead us to be bandits.
2) God does love us.

Now you may be asking, "But, Miss Blogger-Chick, how can you possibly say that with certainty when you have no absolute facts?"
Oh, but I do.
How do I know? He provides us with an escape. An escape from the bandits that plague our lives, and the decisions we make that make us, too, bandits.
"How does choosing to rely on ourselves and face the bandits make us bandits? I don't get it."
Oh, I'm so glad you asked that! That is a great question.
What do you suppose the person in the story is going to do when he faces the bandits? Is he going to sit down with them and chat over their differences over a nice cup of tea (or coffee, if you prefer)? No, the bandits have already proved to be violent and bloodthirsty. So then the only way to face them by yourself is to sink to their level and also become violent and bloodthirsty.
Something we all have to realize, though, is that while God will always answer, His answer isn't always the answer we want. While we want judgment, God wants retribution. We can be pounding our fists bloody on that door, begging for God to smite the bandits with a thunderbolt, but He's not going to do it. Although you may not see it in the moment, His way is so much better.

Now before I continue our story, I want to bring something cool to your attention.
Remember that passage I brought up at the beginning of the post? Yes, I know I'm long winded and it was awhile ago, but I trust your memory.
Literally the day after my brother brought up that piece of Scripture, my daily bible-prayer time brought me to Matthew 7 where the passage resides. Now we could call this sweet irony or coincidence, but I like to believe it was God. Or better yet, maybe one of God's favorite ways to work are sweet irony and seeming coincidence?
Food for thought.

I tried the knob, but it wouldn't budge. Locked.
Frantically, I knocked on the door, glancing over my shoulder constantly. I looked away for only the briefest of moments when I heard a shout. I looked back to see one of the thugs standing at the edge of the cloud of fog, pointing at me and waving his buddies over. My heart sank.
"I can't do this." I whispered to myself in defeat, tears filling my eyes.
I rest my forehead against the door and my rapid pounding slowed to a rhythmic thunk, thunk, thunk. At every third pounding of my fist, I would lift my head from the door and let my forehead thud into it. With each thud, I repeated a silent, simple prayer.
Please, save me. Please, save me. Please, save me.
The third time I brought my head back to the door it didn't connect with solid wood, but something with a give to it. Something like flesh.

I pulled back and opened my eyes to find the chest of a man only inches from my face. I looked up to meet a face and eyes so kind and loving that time seemed to slow for a moment.
"Welcome home, child." He said to me, his voice as deep and gentle as the ocean on a calm day. "I've been waiting for you."


  1. Thanks for reminding us we don't have to fight our own battles! Good timing for me :)

    1. You are very welcome!
      I actually out off writing this post for almost a week, every day thinking, "Should I write that today?" And every day finding something else to do before ever deciding.
      I guess this one was for you. God works in funny ways, doesn't He?