I sat in Chapel with my 4-year-old class and listened to the story of Jesus calming the stormy sea… after the disciples woke him up because they were terrified. The teller of this tale didn’t give Jesus’s ending speech… Oh ye of little faith! Yeah, Jesus really ragged those guys for being scared when he was right there with them. You’d almost think they were… gasp… humans.
I am not good at children’s Bible stories.
Our children’s minister who does these Chapel times at the preschool is very good at Bible stories. She draws them in and involves them physically as well as mentally. It’s good stuff. The problem isn’t her. The problem is me.
I am too detail oriented, too intent on picking things apart, and too at odds with my own beliefs and ideas about the Bible.
Yesterday, the kids learned that Jesus protects them from bad things.
And I had to fight back tears of anger and despair as those little children sang about Jesus always watching over them.
Because I don’t believe it’s true.
When the minister told the group that Jesus would protect them, my mind went instantly to the children I spent my summer with in Honduras. I can’t begin to tell you all of the dangers a child faces in a third world country. Especially girls.
Then, I thought of the kids actually sitting on the floor around me. It is likely that a few of them have already been abused in some way. Others will be abused in the next few years. One of my dear friends was molested for ten years, by a neighbor, and it started when she was the same age as the little boy telling me I am the best teacher in the world.
It was hard to sit still. My body was screaming at me to run away. All of this is too heavy.
Why would Jesus protect some kids and not others?
That is what my brain was demanding to know. Either Jesus picks favorites or Jesus isn’t all-powerful and some kids are beyond his abilities or maybe he isn’t protecting any child and it is all left to chance.
Or to us.
Maybe it is up to us to protect these children.
If that is the case, friend, we are a whole lot of failures.
One of the girls we met summer of ’15 didn’t show up summer of ’16. She’d left to be a prostitute. Left… as if this was a choice for a young girl to make. As if some gang or older man isn’t pulling those puppet strings and making her dance because she feels like she has no choice.
She is not being protected.
And I don’t know what to do with these thoughts. They sit on my shoulders like gorillas. They are so heavy, so awkward, so difficult to explain away.
I know the answers apologists give. Those answers worked well when my questions were more intellectual than nitty gritty in my guts real happening right now.
Now… they just aren’t good enough.
I can’t walk away from Jesus. I love him. I believe in him. I want to live and love like him.
But I am also angry and scared and maybe I don’t want to wake him up and tell him that. Because who wants to be lectured on their lack of faith when the boat has been rocked so violently the waves crash onto the wooden deck? My clothes are soaked and salty. I’m seasick, heaving over the sides of the ship. The wind blows my hair into my eyes and I cannot see my own hands at the end of my arms.
I need Jesus to wake up and say, “Peace. Be still.”
But why should Jesus save me from this place of confusion and fear? Why save me and not that girl from the mountain village in Honduras? Why save me and not my friend when she was 4-years-old and afraid?
This is where I am in my faith. It is a place where the light peeks through the clouds but the clouds keep spinning into twisters.
I have no beautiful wrap-up paragraph in which I explain how I have made peace with these issues. I haven’t made peace with these issues.
I haven’t made peace.