Soul Shudders

In the wake of the Connecticut tragedy we are left with a tremendous amount of questions.  However, I have seen something interesting occurring amidst the rubble of such profound pain.  On Saturday night, SNL paid tribute to the Connecticut victims by having a children’s choir sing “Silent Night”.  Monday night on The Voice, a stirring rendition of “Hallelujah” was viewed by millions.  Even President Obama quoted scripture as he addressed the nation the day after these horrific murders.

In times like these, our soul has a way of shuddering inside of us.  Regardless of an individual’s religion or spiritual status, all of us experience a collective groaning.

The world is not as it should be.

Something has gone horribly, horribly wrong.

“For the wages of sin is death,”  -Romans 6:23a

And we are left looking upward.

Even Jesus was not immune to this shuddering.  As he approached a deaf man and his friends begging for help Jesus does something interesting.

And looking up to heaven, he sighed… -Mark 7:34

The creator looks up to heaven and lets out a deep sigh.  His soul shudders as he is reminded that things are not as they should be.  As Donald Miller puts it, we are all children of Chernobyl stumbling through the rubble trying to make our way.

A friend of mine asked this morning, “How can God allow such evil?”  While this is an important question, I think it is only fair that we recognize how this very same God shudders our soul and awakens a longing we have long been distracted from.  It is moments like these we are jostled from our comfort and convenience and humbled by the frailty of human life.

We.  Are.  Not.  In.  Control.

And our soul shudders at the thought of it.

When we are faced with great evil, we are forced to acknowledge there must also be Someone wonderfully good.  For my friends that are searching for this God, I can tell you that he is remarkably good.  If he was not, I would not waste your time.  He has spread his arms wide to invite the broken to be restored.

He.  Is.  In.  Control.

He has shuddered your soul to bring you to himself.

but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  -Romans 6:23b

Where will you turn for comfort?  Peace?  Hope?  Why do you think your soul shudders the way that it does?  The Creator is calling his frail creation home.  Please follow where your soul leads you this Christmas.

The Call Of Christmas

On Sunday, my wife met a friend at a church in North Bend. She had been going for a few weeks by herself and was excited for a friend to sit by her. During the first song of worship she began to cry heavily and could barely articulate what she was feeling. With teary eyes she barely mustered to my wife the words, “I’ve put God in a box and I know he doesn’t belong there.”

I’m sure you can relate to one of those moments. We’ve all had them(1). See, our spirituality is both intellectual and emotional. We are not just charts, graphs, logic, and percentages. As human beings, we are built with much more. We are emotional, soulful, inspirational, and creative. Philip Yancey would say the moment we try to analyze and dissect grace, is the moment it dies like a butterfly pinned by needles.
Erwin McManus calls this when “our soul runs ahead of our minds.”  It helps define those moments in our lives where we can’t describe what’s happening but we cannot deny what we’re feeling. I think those moments occur more frequently around Christmas. For whatever reason, our world is much more spiritually sensitive during this advent season. Something inside of us awakens. As Chesterton put it, “The worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has no one to thank.” Our spiritual senses are more alert and we take notice of God around us.
My point is simple. Be okay with the mystery this Christmas season. Let your mind run wildly with your soul. Just see where it takes you. Time for analysis, theology, and categorizing will come later. This Christmas season, let your soul take the lead.
Worship only truly happens when we don’t completely understand what’s happening. I say, let the wonderful, gracious, extravagant mystery of a God that dared to become human overwhelm us this Christmas.
And let our souls stand in awe.
1.  If you haven’t, I double dog dare you to ask God to show himself. I prayed that prayer many years ago and look what happened.