I dreamt I went to heaven and met God. And I think I caught him at a bad time. No seriously, he was not in the best of moods. But still he beckoned me over and we had a chat. It was an unusual experience for me.
God strangely asked me how's life in the faith, and that's where I let it all out. He's God after all and I wanted to lay all the cards before Him.
"Oh Lord, I can't say I am happy. This faith thing is not easy. Not easy at all." I expected God to say something here, something encouraging, something uplifting. But he was all quiet. That felt all too familiar to me, so I up the ante.
"God, they say believing in you, trusting in you, is the beginning of wisdom, blessings and prosperity. But I don't see it, feel it. It's not happening. Life is still hard. Just the other day, I heard that a faithful servant of yours got cancer. He served you with all his heart, soul and might and yet he got that dreaded C. It's just not fair. It's not."
God held on to as long as he could with my rambling, and this is where he broke the silence. But he didn't give me any answer. No explanation whatsoever. He appeared not interested to tell me the cause and effect of things. He just repeated what he'd asked earlier, "So son, how's life in the faith?"
Puzzled, I replied, "But God, I just told you how's life, I mean just. Recall the hard life, the big C, the unfairness?"
"Son, I did not ask you about your faith. I asked you, how's life in the faith?"
"What do you mean Lord?"
"You are telling me what you expect when you believe. You are telling me what you think a life of faith means to you. I am not interested in that. That's not what I asked you. I asked you how's life in the faith?"
"Is it a loaded question? A tricked question? How's life in the faith?"
"That's the issue with you. To you, faith needs to be tangible. It is material, and not the evidence of things hoped for. You put your own spin to it. It is the evidence of things seen, realized and expected…in your hands, now. The blessings, the good health, the wealth and successes, you name it and claim it. That's what faith means to you. And when things don't turn out the way you expect them, you have a problem. Well, that's not my problem. It's yours."
I persisted here. "But didn't the Bible say believe and not doubt and you'll receive? And how about seek ye first and all these shall be added? Lord, I am not asking to be a billionaire. No, I am not. I am just asking for a fair portion in life. I don’t think my expectations are selfish or self-centered, are they? I ask for good health so that I can serve you all my days. I ask for evil to be promptly, or at least eventually punished. Not totally wiped out. I ask for the eradication of gratuitous sufferings. I mean…brutal, endless child-trafficking, sex slavery, gruesome torture, child soldiers…do we really need all that? I asked for long life here for the righteous. Don't they deserve it? Well, assuming righteous people are readily identifiable of course, and I don’t think there are many. And I asked for some material blessings so that there is assurance for families. Aren't these fair requests? Can't I expect all these from a good, loving and all-powerful God? From you, Lord?"
At this time, there was a pause before God gave it to me. He minces no words here. He was firm and stern. It was his turn to let it all out. As I told you earlier, he was not in the best of moods.
"Again, you make the same mistake son. You didn't answer my question, how's life in the faith? Your disappointment or disillusionment is a result of this disconnect, this tone-deafness of spirit. It's still your problem, not mine.
And tell me, who says there's no joy in sorrows? Who says there's no peace in a storm? And who says there's no strength in sufferings, no hope in death and no love in gratuitous pain? Isn't it said that the righteous shall live by faith? It didn't say by faith and then a little wealth on the side? Neither by faith and a trouble-free life? Nor by faith and some positive sentiment you call happiness sprinkled here and there?
If you are truly living a life in the faith you will be familiar with poverty, sufferings and failures. You will see them as visitors bearing gifts and not invaders with clenched fists. You will in fact live an overcoming life just like my son did regardless of where you are called.
Redemption is always about brokenness, a contrite heart, a contemplative life, and a joy that is not dependent on circumstances. Redemption is about self-loss. You however are looking for self-gain.
And the problem with you is that you inverse everything. To you, faith means success, tangible and instant. To you, love, my love, means you will come to no harm, your life will be protected, shielded from pain and sufferings. And I am not interested in your countless petitions for protection either. Mind you, I am not running an insurance agency here. Your belief is not the premium you pay for that comprehensive coverage you expect as and when your life is blighted by that unpleasant insured event. But having said all that, did I hear you nevertheless? Of course I did…
But what you want, as with all your prayers, is a laundry list of wishful immunity, a bubbled and pampered life, that is, protection at the expense of growth, success with little character to go with that, happiness without accountability, wealth but not too much exposure, and declared righteousness with token sanctification.
You choose to misapply everything good I have prepared for you because you want it quick, easy and convenient. For you, good has to be blessing, wealth and health, or else it is not good.
You just want to hear the good stuff. If it is about Calvary, you want to be there for the resurrection, and not bear the Cross. If it is about discipline in the Spirit, you want to lead, be seen and adored, and avoid the daily sacrifice to deny self. And if it is about the fruit of the Spirit, you can't wait to reap what you have not sown. Your fruits are all good on the outside, but unripe inside.
So, you cry and lament when things don't go your way, and raise your fist to heaven in protest. But you are too spoilt to embrace the truth that behind every trial is a prize of eternal value, and following close at the heels of a storm is a gift of hope that will deepen your faith.
The life you live in your faith is not the life I have called you to live in the faith. You idealize the faith to make it suit your expectations of how things should be. You don't internalize the faith to submit your will to mine and thereby make the enduring difference in the lives of others.
The plaintive chorus of your life is predictable, annoying even. It’s all about you. Your grief. Your deprivation. Your pain. Your struggles. Your disappointments. Your disillusionment. Your humility. Your idea of living a righteous life. Even your efforts to show others you have changed are annoying. That is what matters to you, to your faith.
As a result, there’s no room in your heart for things that really matter, that is, enduring growth in a trial, true perseverance in a storm, resilience as you overcome, and hope that is beyond this world. You are called to keep your eyes on my son and all else will go strangely dim. Yet, what you have been doing is to keep your eyes on what is short term, what is safe, what is glittering, what is superficial, what is instantly gratifying, and what is self-enriching, while the things of this world gradually takes over.
So, do me a favor, if you should prosper, and live only to prosper, boasting to others how great your god is and how they too can enjoy such prosperity, don't direct the praises or thanks to me. I have no part to play in it. No part. It's all your own effort. You can congratulate yourself, give yourself a pat on the back.
...and it is not about a prayer that came to pass, or answered here. Please don’t adulterate what I have exonerate. It is however about an unquenchable human appetite that seeks in desperation for some flimsy spiritual window dressing. It's what Adam and Eve did with figs leaves to cover themselves. So, if vices pay homage to virtue, then your hypocrisy is no compliment to me.
In other words, don’t use my name in vain for your petty vanities. Your success is clearly not mine. My victory has been sealed by my son, and he had specifically warned you about this: "Where your heart is, there you'll find your treasure."
His kingdom is not of this world. And if you put all your hope in this world on the pretense that you are being blessed by me, please don't deceive yourself. It has nothing to do with me to start with.
It is said that perfect love drives out all fear. But your fear of losing everything you own drives out perfect love in your life. And in your cowardice, you are the least convicted by the declaration, "Where is thy sting, death?" Instead, your hope is in the here and now, and your treasure is in the earthly pleasures and the empty bragging rights that last only for a season.
Haven’t you been repeatedly reminded that this world is not your home, and you are just passing through? But you treat it as your furnished castle, and live it up like a blind wretched fool.
So, I hope I have made myself clear this time. I did not ask you about life in your faith or your idea of it. I asked about how's life in the faith, that is, the faith that raised my son, released my spirit, transformed hearts, overcame all, denied self, and counted the cost. It is not a faith that pants after his own reflection in the living stream, but one that surrenders to its source.
And until you know the difference, and live out the difference in ways that not only change your life but the lives of others, you will never stop complaining, never stop living in a self-conceited mirage you have set yourself up for.
Anyway, we shall end here. I am telling you this son because I love you. Love may keep no record of wrong, yes, but it does not overlook them either. So, think about what I've said. Think hard about it. Goodbye."
And my dream ended there. I woke up that morning and thanked god that it is just a dream…it’s all made up…I thank god it’s not real. Cheerz.