As a man lost at sea loses his mind when left to his own mental wanderings, so are we destined to squander God’s gift of faith if we keep vesting it in humanity.
Nothing destroys faith in oneself like a mirror. We stare into the reflection of our eyes and barely find the strength to ignore their pleas for help. Deep down we know how fallen we are; we know we need something.
Still, we don’t want help, answers or solutions because we don’t know how to handle them. We are addicted to problems like flies are to cow-pies. We like bad news and conflicts because it satisfies some twisted itch inside. If the world managed to obtain peace, we would soon tear it all apart again.
Humans are complex creatures, but sin has taken our complexity and made us confused by it. The dark voices inside allow us to muddy water and pretend its clean. The farther into the human soul we delve, the more muddy it becomes because sin will always be there, ready to throw us all into confusion about what we find.
Complexity is not bad, for all of life is complex. This is why there must be a distinction between complexity and confusion: complexity is God’s creation, but confusion is the fruit of sin. Sin may drive complexity like a battering ram, but God drives it like a river–contained and intentional.
C.S. Lewis said Christianity is not something one would guess or imagine because it meshes well with the complexity of the world. God is the most complex Being in existence, and humanity is not far behind, but there still is something simple about the central chord of Christianity. Consider Jesus’ simple command: “Believe in him whom [God] has sent” (John 6:29).
It’s hard to trust this. It’s too simple. It spits in the face of everything we stand for as humans. We assume our deepest craving as complex creatures cannot be satisfied with something as simple as “believe.”
And yet Grace doesn’t wait for our permission to accept something that fits our paradigm: “When we were dead in our trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:5a).
Just like God spoke order into chaos (Gen. 1:1-2), so he speaks into our confused souls and tells us we are whole (1 Cor. 6:11). Just like Jesus calmed the sea (Mark 4:36-41), so he distills the waves of doubt (Jam. 1:6).
God knows humanity is too enthralled with its web of misplaced hopes to trust him out of its own resources, so he redeems us, chaos included, and scatters seeds of faith into the mess. The Spirit then moves across the tumult, commanding the seeds to sprout and tame the disorder. Only through his power can find it possible to abandon our thirst for muddy water and fix our eyes on the simplicity of childlike trust that’s been made available to us.
This truth governs our daily lives as much as it governed our entrance into the Kingdom (Gal. 3:3; 5:25). We may be faced with confusion and chaos every time we look in the mirror, but Grace is hard on its heels (Lam. 3:22-23), eager to show us the simple truth of who we are.
At some level, our souls will always abhor grace. Since we are complex, sin will always use it as a means to confuse us. We must not, however, be concerned with how far we fall short of “having it all together.” All God asks from us is that we give him our messes. Consider Paul’s words: “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom. 12:1-2)
Like scars that linger long after new skin, we walk with the continual reminder of where we’ve been and where we’re going. Every day we offer our messy souls to God because it’s the only logical thing to do (12:1). Our confusion is gradually being refined and transformed into what will one day be a free and flawless life. In the meantime, we relish our ability to trust God in our chaos.
The mirrors that once begged us to dwell on our lost hopes now provide a reason to worship our Creator. For we can stare at our reflections and thank God for loving the chaos we see in our reflection. No matter how much mirrors may barrage us with doubts, God is always prepared to cultivate the soil of battered hopes so the seeds of faith can sprout.