For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality.--Col 2.17
I woke up that morning, it was a typical day, everything seemed ok except for Julie and me having a 'discussion,' she was anxious about something and left early that morning to take the kids to school. I went about my typical Tuesday then I got hit with this bombshell. Jerusalem, our 16-year-old daughter, on a Tuesday around lunch time sent me this text. I remember where I was at in my office, I remember what I was doing, I was traumatized.
I stared at the text with a blank look and here's what rushed through my mind, I'll slow it down so you can read it, but the thoughts went 0-to-60 in a nano-second.
Oh God, no! No!
I didn't even know she had a boyfriend?!?!
Am I that out of touch? Apparently so.
she was doing so well in our family devotion discussions
She's not ready to be a mother and I'm not ready to be a grandpa
I will find that guy and I will . . .
Voices and faces, lots of them, from the church I was raised in:
"We told you not to move to San Francisco."
"See this is what happens when you raise your kids away from the Bible belt!"
"You missed it, God never called you to San Francisco, now your family is suffering."
"If only your family was a priority, raised in a church with youth programs . . ."
"This happened because you left your denomination."
Staring at my white desk in disbelief.
World crashing in.
Chest feeling tight.
Stomach in knots.
Accuser: you have let your family down, you have let your church down, you are lousy!
Accuser using Scripture: [a pastor] must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him. For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church? 1Tim 3.4-5
Accuser giving solutions: you need to resign from Lighthouse, draft a letter to the Board, you need to move away and focus on your family, you are so out of touch.
Jeru would never send a text like this to me, she would tell me in person. I have too close of a relationship with her.
Wait! This must be God! She meant to send this to the boyfriend but accidentally sent it to me.
God intercepted this and it got sent to me.
So that's why Julie was so upset this morning when she left the house! She knows about this.
So much is starting to make sense.
How will we make it financially?
What should I do, I need to get in front of this.
Julie and I need to talk.
Meet with Jeru tonight and assure her of our love and support.
Call mom and dad.
Draft Resignation letter.
Figure out where to move.
Beat the @*%# out of the kid who did this.
It took me about 10-minutes to rush through those thoughts and emotions. My stomach was in knots, my eyes all red, and my reality was rocked.
I hate confrontation. Hate it.
Picking up the phone I dial Jeru.
"Hey, Dad!" (I can hear a bunch of girls giggling in the background).
"Jeru, this really isn't funny. This is serious. Your whole life is going to be impacted by this. I don't understand why you are laughing. Do you realize the gravity of this . . . " (awkward pause) "Am I on speaker phone?"
More giggling and laughing.
"Jeru, I'm serious, this is serious!"
"April Fools." (click)
And that's exactly how it went down. There I stood an emotional mix of anger and relief, joy and plotting revenge my revenge, thankful and bewildered, gullible and not laughing. Here's the crazy thing for 10 minutes my reality was what Jeru told me. For 10-minutes she controlled my reality and by controlling my reality she owned me. It was only two words: I'm pregnant. But that news, bad news, shaped my reality and wreaked havoc on my emotions (anger, depression, discouragement) and my physicality (crying, stomach in knots, loss of appetite). It doesn't matter that the news wasn't real, the fact that I believed it, gave it the same power over me as if it were real.
Perhaps the two most disturbing outcomes were: (1) I began interpreting the world around me based on an illusion, a lie. I concluded that Julie's behavior and anxiety were due to Julie knowing about Jeru's pregnancy. I interpreted the unconventional text from Jeru as some kind of intervention from God. All the facts were skewed to fit into this new illusory reality that I believed. And, (2) I started making decisions about my future, life-choices that would affect our church and our family based on these illusions.
Here's the thing, whatever you believe to be real is your reality. It doesn't matter if it's a lie or an illusion if you believe it, you will interpret history and facts based on these illusions, you will manipulate life to fit into these lies. These lies and illusions can affect your health and physicality, your emotions and demeanor. In fact, because this is the lens through which you are looking at reality, you will look for more evidence and proof of it wherever you look. And then, here's the scary part, you will begin to make decisions based on these lies and illusions and those actions and choices will perpetuate the lie, sustain the illusion because they now will become part of the narrative, the proof.
Jesus unmasks the illusions of desire, acclaim, and ambitions. He shows us that his reality is the Voice, the Blessing, the Father's love, and the Presence. And then he steps out of the wilderness and says, "The Kingdom is here, now. Open your minds and believe the 'Good News'."
In other words, quit living in the illusions of the world, conforming to it. Finding your identity in your addictions and desires. You do not have to be forced into the illusion that your life means something, is valuable because of your celebrity status. You do not have to live under the illusion that freedom means control over others. All of that is bad news and it will perpetuate itself in your life. The Good News is the Father loves you, for you! The Good News is the Father blesses you. The Good News is the Father delights in your presence, just you being with him.
The questions is: what are you going to believe? illusion or reality, bad news or good news?
THE FOUR GESTURES
Reflection. What stuck out to you in the reading? What evidence of good news and kingdom reality is happening around you?
Prayer. Take a moment today and thank God for something he is doing in your life.
Conversation. Have a conversation with Cleopas about all of this.