It probably happened over a thousand times during my teen years. My dad would make some comment that seemed very pessimistic about an athlete’s personal life, the prospects of a politician following through on his campaign promises, or a church leader’s integrity – and I’d be deeply frustrated at his depressing point of view.
Well, 2018 was the year I moved a lot closer to his view on the world.
Dear friends and beloved co-laborers in the gospel fell into the snare of sin. Folks I believed were genuinely kind were revealed to be hypocritical and angry. Gifted preachers with massive influence in my life and ministry sinned in shameful ways. Churches I thought would take seriously the essential commands regarding gospel discipline cowered in the critical moment of truth. And I’ve encountered the darkness of my own grievous, wayward heart in more ways than I ever have before.
All of this, I suppose, leads me to sing with a little bit more desperate sincerity the words I’ve thoughtlessly mumbled for as long as I can remember:
On Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand.
All other ground is sinking sand.
Maturity for a Christian really does amount to discovering that the Lord is the only place of refuge and safety from the letdown and disappointment that makes up so much of the suffering in life. While I had already known this in practice I’ve lived as though Christ, AND the people and things that SEEM to represent Him are the solid rock. Alas, the words of Edward Mote should be taken much more literally – ALL other ground is sinking sand.
This is not to say that it has been a year of despair or hopelessness. Rather, it has been a year of learning to fix my hope in the one place where it is truly secure. As I raise my son, now a bit over two months old, I will seek to raise him with wonder, joy, curiosity, and hope. But I will endeavor to love him enough to teach him not to place his ultimate trust in me – because that will inevitably end in resentment as I will surely fail to meet such expectation. I want him to see the world for how it is (fundamentally broken) while never losing sight of Jesus for who He is (the One who restores broken things and raises the dead to life again).
This very concept is represented poetically in song by Brendan James. He expresses all the ways the he sees life through a grim, skeptical, brutally honest lens, while still finding a glimmer of faith shining through in one person who serves as his last beacon of hope. Assuming this song is sung from the heart, the discovery that even this wonderful woman will also let him down will be truly devastating. But then, perhaps he will be able to sing the song in the same way that I listen to it – directed to the Solid Rock on which we stand.
I see holes in Noah’s Ark
I see dirt in the reservoir
I see struggle in the architecture
I see sorrow in the family picture
But I see You, and it is enough
I’m a skeptic, but I see love.
Happy 2019, y’all.