I’ve had a crappy couple of weeks at work lately. Fact is, I am there now. It’s lunch. So I am writing (well, it’s not lunch anymore. I finished this on Saturday…).
Then I read this hilarious article on the subject of crap, care of a Laurie Kendrick’s blog.
So it got me thinking.
If you are not familiar with the topic of “spiritual formation,” that’s a fancy new way to say “spiritual growth,” or the process by which Christians change over time. Yes, that’s the theory, that if God really does come into our lives, it will be like an elephant coming into the living room. He is bound to rearrange the furniture.
That furniture re-arranging is the process by which God matures us so that we know Him more intimately over time (lots of time…), repent of our old stuff, and become more like Him in our attitudes and actions.
There are things we can do to help this process along, according to the experts. Like reading the Bible, praying, worshipping, serving, etc. etc. These things are called “spiritual disciplines.” But here is what I don’t get. There is this one major thing they (the experts) left off the list:
I have found in my 35-odd years of being a Christian that crap is just about the single most effective means of spiritual growth in my life (well, it runs sort of neck and neck with Bible study and friendships). [Note: if you are not sure what I mean by Crap, please refer to: Crap Defined]
What was good enough for Job and Joseph and Jesus is good enough for me.
One day my older daughter (the one with the sneer, above) told me she had learned about that guy Joe in Sunday School. Joe? Joseph? “No. Not the guy with the colored coat, the guy who all the bad things happened to.” Ah, Job.
Yes, Job. God gave permission to Satan to take away Job’s livelihood and family members (but he kindly left Job’s nagging wife). Then after 40-odd chapters of hearing Job’s friends dump more crap on him and debate the reason for his suffering (i.e., crap), we learn the purpose:
My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore, I… repent in dust and ashes. (Job 42: 5, 6)
Crap produces a more intimate view of God and repentance.
Then there’s Joe. Joseph. The one who arrogantly bragged to his brothers that he would one day rule over them (he got that news out of the colored coat dream). Shortly thereafter, the annoyed brothers sell Joseph into slavery (I hope my girls don’t pay each other back this way one day…).
Fast forward 20 years: Joseph has gone from slave, to executive, to prisoner, to governor. He’s been through a lot of crap. And, now, when his brothers have reunited with Joseph and stand cowering before him (because he has the power to eliminate them), Joseph lovingly says:
Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good, to accomplish … the saving of many lives. (Geneses 50: 19-20)
Crap builds character and creates humility.
Jesus, you say? Wasn’t he perfect? Yes, but somehow, the Bible also says:
…He learned obedience from what He suffered. (Hebrews 5:8)
Crap teaches obedience.
Would you be surprised to learn that one of my favorite passages in the Bible is Hebrews 12, which in effect says:
Crap leads to “a harvest of righteousness and peace.”
So I commend crap to you. Don’t listen to those preachers who tell you “God wants to make you rich.” Ask God for crap. Share in Christ’s sufferings (Philippians 3:10).
And in the end, you’ll have the far, far, greater riches of increased intimacy with the only One who can truly fulfill:
[Our] momentary, light afflictions [are] producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison. (2 Corinthians 4: 17)
Dear Lord: Thanks for reminding me that crap counts. I hate going through it, but I always love the results. Thank you that you care so much for me that you give me what I need, not what I want. And help me to turn from focusing on my pain to focusing on You, to trust Your good purposes for me. Amen.
PS For more on this subject, see: How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?