Good morning, New Women. Before we continue hanging out with Jesus en route to Jerusalem, I just want to say thank you. So often when you comment you add things like, "This was the perfect post, Nancy, thank you." (A) You don't have to do that but you do, and it blesses me all over the place, and (B) even though I know (or at least I hope) anything I say that's helpful to you really does come from God, I'm encouraged by your thanks to keep at this, to find new, fresh ways to clarify what I think Jesus is saying to us. So -- a huge thank you, my friends. Your COMMENTS are perfect!
Now, then. We are on our way to Jerusalem, and we're spending the night in a hostel (like a hotel but without the amenities) before we move on. We've had a lot to think about when it comes to giving up what we possess that comes between us and God, and we're getting it ...
But as we decide who's sleeping where in the wood-panelled room lined with bunk beds, some grumbling goes on among us.
"Is it just me, or does some of this stuff Jesus is saying seem unfair?"
"No, it's not just you. I'm all trying to be good and faithful and develop good character, and it's still the pretty girls who seem about as deep as the nearest puddle that get all the attention."
"Not only that -- I try so hard to be everyting you just said, and all this bad stuff still happens to me."
"This is the worst part for me: I try to share my faith with people and they look at me like I'm a crazy person."
"Okay, this is going to sound bad but since we're being honest ... I'm glad my grandfather accepted Christ before he passed away. I really am. But, y'know, I'm working my buns off to be a Jesus follower my whole life and making all these sacrifices, and somebody who's done whatever they wanted THEIR whole life decides on their deathbed they want Jesus and they go to heaven just like I'm going to."
By that time we're pretty worked up. Some of us are in tears. Others are ticked off. Still others want to curl up in a ball and put in our ear buds so we can listen to music and forget this whole thing except .... oh, wait, we didn't bring our phones or iPods.
"So, ladies," says a voice from the doorway. "When did I promise you 'fair.'"
We all, of course, immediately start off on a guilt trip, but Jesus puts out his hands to calm us. "Do you want to talk with me about this?"
We of course say yes, even though some of us would still rather go hide. Jesus tells us to circle up, so we sit around him on the floor and he sits cross-legged right down there with us. The air already feels less frantic.
"I've promised you many things during our time together," he says. "But I've never said that if you follow me, everything is going to be 'fair,' at least not the way you think of fair ..."
Someone says, "Like, everybody gets treated equally."
Someone else says, "Each person gets what they really deserve."
"Right," somebody says. "And if someone follows you, their life should be better than the life of someone who doesn't."
"I see," Jesus says. "And does it always seem to turn out that way?"
For moment, while Jesus prays his hands against his mouth, we think the conversation might be over. That's it? But then he leans forward and we lean in.
"Who do you think should decide what's equal and who's deserving and who should have bad things happen to them? Who's the judge?"
One of us laughs and says, "Me!"
Jesus laughs too. Man, it's a great sound. It makes what he says next easier to take.
"Although we are each gifted with freedom of choice, God is the one who chooses what the big picture looks like. And none of you -- in fact no one -- knows that big picture. You're not called to see the Father's entire plan, so you can't totally understand why certain people are faced with certain things and why 'bad' people appear to have it made and people who are late to the God-party still get to come in."
He watches us take that in, and then he says, "So, no, I'm not promising you 'fair' as the world sees it. I promise you five things that are far better." He counts on his fingers as he goes on. "If you follow me to oneness with God, I promise you strength. I promise you loving comfort. I promise you that you will know who you are so you can do what you're called to do. And I promise that you will know who God is." Jesus looks at each of us in turn. "Isn't that enough?"
Then after he rests his hands on each of our heads, he leaves us to sit with that. Some of us write in our journals. Some just go to our bunks and let it stir within us. All of us who want to comment to each other: about what just doesn't seem fair in our lives and how that might look different to us now, after what Jesus said; about whether we really have faith in the promises he does make; about how letting go of 'fair' might change things.