Rain isn’t such a big deal in some parts of the country (like in Seattle where I grew up), but when it rains in Los Angeles, sensory perception goes into acute mode. It awakens us to look at things differently.
Rain is a condition of paradox: It cleanses, refreshes, and renews. Yet, it messes things up. There are mud puddles to be stepped in, dirt-streaked cars to be driven in, and lawn-laden doggy prints to be wiped from once clean floors. We know we need it, but we never really want it. We love it and hate it.
It’s so much like my life right now. The vibrancy of my faith is a daily washing of beauty, goodness, and truth by a Father who I know–really know–loves me.
Yet the context of life…well, it’s messy. For the most part, I am immersed in far from perfect relationships, unmet expectations, and a whole lot of disappointment. I’m frustrated with myself…and others. I’m discouraged at other’s and my own resolve to be who we proclaim ourselves to be…and discouraged that I have so little grace for the authentic.
Stuck between the tread of my shoes is the mud of knowledge that God lets it be this way. Today on this dark-skied, blustery, rain-filled day I am frustrated with God. Frustrated that righteousness is not always rewarded…here. Frustrated that love doesn’t always feel warm and fuzzy…here. Frustrated that the groans of sin have to be so loud…here. Frustrated that truth doesn’t always win the day…here. Frustrated that for all my big thoughts about God, He seems so apparently small and quiet in so much of my life.
I can’t control any of these situations and I can’t understand why God doesn’t seem to be controlling them either. Doesn’t He know how much I believe in His Sovereignty? How much I affirm His providence? How much I have attested to His faithfulness?
Ellen Charry in her book By the Renewing of Your Minds says that our theology should create virtue in us. It should help us flourish better as the people God made us to be. What does my frustration say about my true theology? If my God is as big I proclaim then where is the fruit of virtue causing me to flourish in this storm? Who or what is really bigger: God or the storm?
I know that it won’t always be this way. As quickly as the rain rolled in last night, it will roll out. Withstanding today’s storm requires that I not forget just that: It’s only today’s storm. But God’s goodness, truth, and love are mine for an eternity. So for tonight, I’ll leave the mud-laden boots at the porch and I will bathe my frustrations in God’s mercy and grace with the hope that tomorrow I might more virtuously flourish as the person God made me to be.