Kansas City Blues

This morning I awoke from a dream that was simply a conversation with an old friend from my days in Kansas City. We were sat at a table in an outdoor café and talked about how life had gone since the eighties when Teckla and I were in Kansas City. My friend explained how the church had wounded her, how life had disappointed her, and how her faith had been battered. In the dream, I asked, “What about God?” I then woke up.

I asked about God because I too have been wounded by those in the church. I have seen hopes and dreams die. I have disappointed myself and been disappointed by others. All this has required the hard work of forgiving people and surrendering my dreams and disappointments to God. In the end, I too have had to answer the question, “What about God?”

The answer that raises my heart from the dead is this: “God, you are perfect in all your ways!” When said with full conviction and passion, these words sweep away every grudge against God, every unconscious accusation against his goodness. It revives my soul.

I declare this without having an answer to every question about those times when obeying God did not have the cool result I thought it should. Often God has not followed my script. And unlike some, I can not look back on my life and discern how God was secretly working everything out in some wonderful way.

I still have questions. Some things in my past still seem simply wrong—without any redemptive purpose or design. Some things may have just been the work of the enemy, or expressions of the evil in people’s hearts. I can’t explain away everything that grieves my heart as an unseen blessing. I do know it is important to give all my grievances to God.

Often, we don’t recognize that our grievances against life have mutated into grievances against God. A sign that this has happened is when our disappointments move us further from God instead of closer. When we withdraw from God and God’s people to nurse our wounds and nurture our disappointments, we are blaming God. That blame shrinks our love for God and kills our communication with him.

I have beloved brothers and sisters who have been hurt by churches, wounded in their marriages, and seen dreams for their children dashed. Some have gone through divorce, even the death of a spouse or child. We live in a world full of thorns, thistles, and unanswered questions. We have a real enemy who lies, steals, and destroys. Yet, through our tears, it is our privilege to declare to God, “You are perfect in all your ways.”

The more I come face to face with my weakness and the brokenness of the world, the more I love lifting my eyes to a God who has loved me perfectly and saved me fully. I am His. And He is mine. When I see all that is mine in God, the riches of grace found in Christ, and the glorious hope of an eternity with Him, my grief is swallowed up by joy. My Kansas City blues become jazzy hymns of praise.

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About Mark

I live in Myrtle Point, Oregon with my wife Teckla and am the father of four boys. Currently I teach writing and literature at Southwest Oregon Community College. I am a graduate of Myrtle Point High School, Northwest Nazarene College, and have a Masters in English from Washington State University.

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