Sunday, September 28, 2008
II CORINTHIANS 6 (MSG) It's All Just Getting To Be Too Much
"It's all just getting to be too much." Have you ever found yourself saying that? "It's all just getting to be too much."

It could be any of a million things that get you to that point. Maybe the kids are misbehaving. Maybe your parents aren't getting along. Maybe your spouse is having to travel too much for work. Maybe you're just overcome by loneliness. Maybe it's illness on your part or others around you whom you love. Maybe work has been too busy. Maybe it wasn't busy enough and you lost your job. Maybe you're afraid of losing your business. Maybe the debts are piling up and you see no way out. Maybe you're just worn out and burned out and need some time off but can't take it.

Maybe it seems like all of these things are hitting you all at once.

Your exact story doesn't make any difference but the point is ... there you are ... and maybe it's even a cry out to God -- "It's all just getting to be too much, God."

As worries and tensions mount, it may drive you any of several places. Intense sadness. Anger. Withdrawal and shut-down. Addictions. Ridiculous hyperactivity. Avoidance of reality. Wherever it drives you, it drives you there hard and fast and it seems like the door slams shut behind you.

"It's all just getting to be too much, God."

Increasingly, the past few months, I have been living there -- "It's all just getting to be too much." For me, it drives me to eating the wrong foods at the wrong time. It drives me to just a feeling of sadness and withdrawal. I've put on a lot of weight and that seems to make the pit even deeper. "It's all just getting to be too much, God." I have felt held by Him throughout but yet, fact is, it really all has just been getting to be too much.

Friends ask how you're doing. You smile and say "Fine. Things sure are hectic right now but, I'm fine. Things are fine. Things are getting better, that's for sure. I have nothing to complain about. There's so much pain in the world -- I'm fine." It becomes a liturgy, a liturgy of trying to convince yourself ... that you're fine. You don't want to be a whiner or a complainer. You want to support and encourage others. You want to be ... fine. But, "it's all just getting to be too much."

I have written before that God has stopped me recently in II Corinthians 5. I have read that chapter dozens of times now. And last night, in my prayers, I cried out -- "It's all just getting to be too much, God." And He told me, "Go on to Chapter 6 now." So I did.

Here it is, Paul to the church in Corinth ... from The Message.

Companions as we are in this work with you, we beg you, please don't squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us. God reminds us,
I heard your call in the nick of time;
The day you needed me, I was there to help.

Well, now is the right time to listen, the day to be helped. Don't put it off; don't frustrate God's work by showing up late, throwing a question mark over everything we're doing. Our work as God's servants gets validated—or not—in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we're beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we're telling the truth, and when God's showing his power; when we're doing our best setting things right; when we're praised, and when we're blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all.

Dear, dear Corinthians, I can't tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn't fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren't small, but you're living them in a small way. I'm speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!

Don't become partners with those who reject God. How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong? That's not partnership; that's war. Is light best friends with dark? Does Christ go strolling with the Devil? Do trust and mistrust hold hands? Who would think of setting up pagan idols in God's holy Temple? But that is exactly what we are, each of us a temple in whom God lives. God himself put it this way:

"I'll live in them, move into them;
I'll be their God and they'll be my people.
So leave the corruption and compromise;
leave it for good," says God.
"Don't link up with those who will pollute you.
I want you all for myself.
I'll be a Father to you;
you'll be sons and daughters to me."
The Word of the Master, God.

God doesn't promise Christians a bed of roses in this life. In fact, the Bible is full of stories quite to the opposite. He doesn't deny that this life will have its trials. In fact, even, it would likely have fewer trials if we were not following Him. He even tells us that it would be okay to be a Democrat and live on handouts. (Sorry -- it's in there though ... almost.)

And, God encourages us to reach out to others for strength and encouragement. Reach out to others for help when we need it. Take that help and live in it, whether it be physical or psychological or emotional. Live in Christian community and in relationships. And know that there will be tough times.

But, in tough times, He promises His comfort. He promises to expand our territory. If we open up, our lives will open up. The more we live for others, the smaller our own troubles will seem. Our troubles won't go away. It will even still seem like it's all getting to be too much at times. But we will be living a life of hope ... a life of help ... a new life of resurrection ... and our territory will be expanded as we build His Kingdom.

I am, frankly, still processing what this all means to me. It's not a new concept to me. But the opportunities really open up during times when "it's all just getting to be too much." Maybe God is calling me to deeper community ... to not just falsely cover up everything as being "fine". Maybe He is calling me to a new level of service. Maybe He is just assuring me that He does love me and, the more I open up, the more my life will expand and the less I will feel that this world is getting to be too much. Maybe He's calling me closer to Him and His people and even less in the world ... at least for now ... so that I might be refreshed and rejuvenated, my territory enlarged.

I don't know for sure ... but I do feel He's going to be binding me, at least my heart, to II Corinthians 6 for awhile.

  posted at 7:00 AM  

At 11:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was led to this posting today, I appreciated the other writings on your blog - but this one touched my heart. I will be back to see more.


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