In his groundbreaking book by the same name, Richard Rohr calls us to consider how intricately intertwined our lives really are.
Every part of your life is in its place.
It may be an uncomfortable place; an undesired place; an imperfect place.
But every molecule of our being, and every movement and moment is in place.
In place for what?
In place to teach us something about the mystery of our existence in God.
I once heard it described this way: “It takes a whole ocean to create a wave.”
Reflect upon that for just a moment.
It takes a whole ocean to create a wave.
Each wave, every wave; from the massive ones that thunder when they crash, to the tiniest, most unassuming little breakers that barely dash upon the horizon.
Whole oceans have conspired with the moon and a perfect tilt of the planet to make every wave possible.
It is all connected. And it all belongs.
The same is true in our lives.
The divine energy of the whole of the universe has conspired break open in you.
It has from the very beginning. It is God’s way.
The trouble is that we tend to only welcome or embrace those energies and experiences that we recognize as happy, joyful and life giving. We reject (or at least resist) those seasons when nothing seems to go our way, and it seems that the universe is conspiring against us.
But again, I will say it: Everything belongs.
Births, graduations, promotions, vacations…yes. We know those belong.
Weddings, new furniture, cookouts with friends, …yes. Those too.
But what about surgery, accident, divorce, and the DMV?
Yes. Everything belongs. (Ok, the DMV may be a stretch, but you get the drift.)
The unmistakable truth is this:
Our most painful experiences can become our best teachers.
It is there, in our wounded places, where God meets us best and loves us most.
Let’s not forget, it was in the abject suffering of the cross that God most fully demonstrated God’s desire to meet us and redeem us in our wounded places.
So, if “everything belongs” does that mean we have no say in things?
Does it mean “whatever’s going to happen is going to happen?”
Quite the opposite is true.
Yes, whole oceans may be conspiring to create the wave.
But what you do with the wave makes all the difference.
You can ride it, or sink beneath it.
While most of us naturally wish to avoid seasons of pain, or at least move swiftly through them as fast as we can, Rohr reminds us…“we dare not get rid of our pain before we learn what it has to teach us.”
What has your pain attempted to teach you?
It is there in pursuit of that answer that we discover the true power of God’s love.
There, in the scar tissue are the places where God has met, loved, and redeemed us.
And here’s the greatest news.
If we can muster the courage to become vulnerable with one another;
if we (like children) can become comfortable again with sharing the stories of our wounds with one another, our faith will expand like it never has before.
We will see, through the evidence of our shared lives and common story that everything does, indeed, belong.
Johns Creek Baptist Church