Just Another Day in Paradox

I came across this door one day on the campus at Southwestern.  Getting a picture soon became one of my many missions.  Mission accomplished.

At the time, I just found it humorous and odd.  Now it holds a much deeper meaning.  It’s a reminder that things are not always as they seem, and that a perceived lack of logic is not necessarily cause for alarm.  This snapshot is a portrait of the paradoxes that are shaping my world right now.

Paradox 1: Life may not be pretty, but it’s always beautiful.
~~~ Things don’t always happen the way we planned, or the way we might think we want them to, but God is always in control.  His will is always accomplished.  And He always works everything to the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28).  So I will try to dance in the rain when the storms of life come.

Paradox 2: The warmth of winter
~~~ This is without a doubt the coldest winter I have experienced in my life.  But that being said, I would not trade it for anything in the world.  I have learned so much about contentment and about the warmth that only comes from the Father – I could never summarize it all in words.  So while it lasts, I will play in the snow and laugh at myself as I slip and slide on the ice.

Paradox 3: Peace in the chaos
~~~ I think it is safe to say that I have had my share of “chaotic” moments here.  Trying to figure out how to shave while holding the shower-head, throwing up in a chip bag on a bus ride, losing my voice for a week, trying to learn a new language, almost catching the club on fire, etc.  None of these were overly traumatic, and some were downright funny.  But the triumphs and struggles of adapting to a new culture can make things seem pretty hectic.  Yet through even the darkest days and hours I have had an overwhelming peace.  I know that I am exactly where God wants me and that I am in His hands no matter what.

Paradox 4: The Living Dead
~~~ All over the world  there are people going through life without Jesus Christ.  They do not have the Holy Spirit living in and through them.  They are under the wrath of God and have never experienced the depth of His love and grace. Some of them have never heard that apart from trusting in Christ – recognizing that His death on the cross paid the price for their sins and that His resurrection gives them new life in Him – they can never be reconciled to God.  Some of them have heard and hardened their hearts to the Truth.  Many of them are striving to take care of their temporary flesh.  They eat right, exercise, go to the doctor when they need to, etc. etc. etc.  But as my supervisor recently said, “It doesn’t matter if your body is healthy if your spirit is dead.”  These people are walking around in living flesh, but they have never experienced true life.  They live next door.  They walk beside me on the street.  They drink coffee at the next table.  They call me “friend.”  But if I am not telling them about Christ and His love for them, I am being anything but a friend.

Paradox 5: Christ is coming, He’s waiting for you.
~~~ Revelation 22:20 says, “He (Jesus) who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” Then, in 2 Peter 3:9 we read, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”  People in Peter’s day thought that since Christ did not return immediately (as we perceive time), He must be a liar.  But the reality is that Christ could say, “I am coming soon” 2000+ years ago, and He could say that statement again today and not come for another 2000+ years, and still not be a liar.  Time, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.  God exists outside of time.  He is not limited by our weak perceptions.  He knows that any amount of years pales in comparison to all of eternity.  Christ is coming soon.  It could be tonight.  It could be 9000 years from now, but He is coming soon.  He waits because there are more people who need to experience salvation.  Perhaps that person is you?  What’s holding you back?

The final paradox: Salvation is free, but costly.
~~~  You can never buy your way into Heaven, into God’s presence.  You can never do enough good to earn your way there.  You have to accept grace as the free gift that it is.  Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin (what we have earned because we do things that go against God’s will) is death (eternal death, eternal separation from God), but the gift of God (free, cannot be bought or earned) is eternal life (sounds pretty good to me) in Christ Jesus (ONLY through Jesus Christ can this gift be received) our Lord (here’s where it gets “costly”).”  Salvation is offered as a free gift to those who repent (turn from) their sins and put their faith (true belief) in Christ.  But this means Christ becomes the Lord (boss) of your life.  And sometimes He might call you to do hard things.  But the amazing beauty of it is that He loves you more than you could ever know or imagine and He knows EVERYTHING so He knows what is the best for you and what will bring you the most joy, hope, contentment, and peace in your life.  Even His discipline (though sometimes painful) is done in love and for your good.  You can trust Him completely.  This is why martyrs throughout the centuries have sung His praises while being tortured and killed.  They knew that God would receive glory through their suffering.  They knew that this life is temporary and that they would soon be rejoicing and delighting in His presence for all of eternity and that any physical or emotional pain was more than worth it.

I never found out where that door in the picture led or why the signs were there.  But, in the end, that doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that Christ is coming soon and we must make the most of the days we have before His arrival.

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