Wednesday, March 28, 2012

why me?

This past Spring Break was pretty crazy—in a good way. I travelled to Memphis with seven of my closest friends to work with Service Over Self (SOS), started reading the book Love is an Orientation for my Family Sexuality class, and began studying the gospel of John in my quiet times. You’re probably wondering what all of these have in common.

Well, let me tell you.

Each and every one of these experiences has really caused me to consider the question, “Why me?” Though a simple inquiry, the two words are loaded with meaning and have really transformed the way I view my life.

Last Monday morning my friends and I loaded up supplies and headed to Binghampton, an inner city neighborhood in Memphis, Tenn. We got to see up close and personal what poverty looks like in the United States.

Don’t get me wrong. Our homeowner, Tim Moore, helped me way more than I could ever hope to help him.  A devoted Christian, Tim showed me what true contentment looks like. When following Jesus is your number one goal, these worldly possessions mean nothing. All I did for him was trim his hedges and clean his room. 

My friends and I with our homeowner, Tim (top left), after a long week of work.

One night, during chapel at SOS, the pastor brought up this simple question that has haunted me ever since. “Why me?” And as I drove down the roads of Binghampton and mopped Tim’s floorboards, the question really hit me hard.

Why me? Why was I born in the wealthiest country in the world? Why was I born with the color of skin that receives the most benefits? Why was I born to a successful, middle class family that makes a great living? Why have I never had to know what it feels like to go hungry?

Or even harder questions… Why was I born to an amazing Christian family—the type that doesn’t just play religion, but really desires to seek after God? Why do my parents care so much about my wellbeing? Why do I struggle with sins that society finds “acceptable”?

But God wasn’t done with me yet. I also started reading the book Love is an Orientation by Andrew Marin. For those of you who don’t know, this book really challenges how evangelical Christians should relate to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transvestite (GLBT) community.

I have purposely never thought a lot about the GLBT lifestyle. It is something that is really hard for me to wrap my mind around and reconcile with my faith. Marin is the founder of the Marin Foundation, an organization that strives to build a bridge between the religious and GLBT communities. I have yet to finish the book, but he has already challenged my attitudes, biases and yes, even my phobias toward gays and lesbians.

Let me be clear. Marin never argues that this lifestyle is not a sin; instead, he encourages Christians to learn how love these people in tangible and measurable ways. In his book, he too poses the question, “Why me?”

And he’s right. Why am I exclusively attracted to the opposite sex? Why do I have the sexual orientation the Christian community deems acceptable? Why have I never had to hide my feelings or be ashamed of my attractions? What is so special about me that I am free of these struggles?

Which, finally, leads me to the passage in John 6 I read today. In this passage, Jesus is explaining that He is the Bread of Life, and only by eating His flesh and drinking His blood can the people receive eternal life.

But the people do not understand. They think Jesus is talking about cannibalism, and many of his followers desert Him. Afterward Jesus comes to the Twelve and asks if this offends them.

In verse 63 He says, “The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But some of you do not believe me. That is why I said that people can’t come to me unless the Father gives them to me.”

And earlier in verse 44, when speaking to the crowds, He also says, “For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up.”

These verses are clear. God alone plays the dominant role in salvation. He reveals the truth to us, draws us close to Him and enables us to respond to that truth. Think about it. He initiated and orchestrated my relationship with Him.

Which, once again, leads me to ask, “Why me?”

Why did He give me parents who took His commandment to train their children so seriously? Why did He allow me to understand His unfailing love at such a young age? Why did He place so many people in my life as examples and advocates for my salvation? Why did He draw me to Jesus?

And why does He continue to do all these things for me?

The answer can only be His unending and overwhelming mercy in my life. It is humbling to realize that every single part of my life exists solely because of Him. Like Jesus said, “Human effort accomplishes nothing.” And for a girl so set on controlling and micromanaging her life, that’s a big realization.

My only response can be unending gratitude and praise, and still it doesn’t feel like enough. So when I’m quick to judge or the world presses in or I take my salvation for granted through disobedience, I need to remember this simple question.

Why me?

All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead.

~Ephesians 2:3-5

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for a very thoughtful reflection on these events. It's exciting to see what God is doing in your life.