What do you do when life gets crazy? When you are worn out, tired, discouraged, when things have not gone well, when you are, if not at the end of your rope, pretty close to the end – what do you do? What do I do? I eat! I am a stress eater. Sometimes it is somethings sweet. Other times it is a salty, full of comforting carbs snack – but when I’m at the edge or walking into the house at the end of long day I want food – whether I am hungry or not. I just want to eat, to fill myself up with something that will keep me from having to deal with the emptiness stress often causes. Yes, I walk into the house and say to Vanessa, “Let’s go get something to eat!”
I confess to you my way of dealing with stress, not so you will tell me, “You don’t have to worry about your weight, Pastor,” but so you will think about what you do. Some people smoke, others drink or even take drugs, people zone out in front of a computer, or stay so busy they don’t have to think about it or go into denial mode, pretending it is okay when it really isn’t! Life gets crazy for all of us, and when we experience emptiness, or feel drained or overwhelmed, the temptation is to fill ourselves up with things that we think will bring us comfort. Many times they do, but often it is only a temporary fix or escape. May I offer an invitation to fill ourselves up with what truly comforts, not just as a temporary fix, but in a way that brings us a new lease on life. It is an invitation to fill ourselves up with God because it is the Lord who answers us and delivers us from all our fears, who hears us and saves us when life gets crazy.
Life was crazy for David…literally! Psalm 34 is a tangible testimony to David’s crazy life. Here’s the context of the psalm: David was running from King Saul. As a young man, he had been pulled from his father’s pastures and anointed as King of Israel. The only problem with that scenario was Saul was still king. David, through his great gift of music, and the ingenuity he employed to defeat the giant Goliath, eventually made it into King Saul’s court, and the Bible says that when David played music, it soothed the soul of King Saul, who battled his own mental instability. Long story short. Saul became jealous of David, and in a couple of fits of jealousy, tried to kill David. David had to run for his life. The first stop on his journey was in Philistia, which is the home of the Philistines. You remember the Philistines? Yeah, Goliath was a Philistine. These are David’s archenemies. David’s crazy life just got crazier. David arrives in Gath and encounters King Achish. Some of the king’s servants tell Achish, “Hey, this is David from Israel. Haven’t you heard they wrote a song about him? Goes like this: ‘Saul has killed his thousands, but David his ten thousands’.” So, David, on the run from one crazy king, and in the presence of his enemy, gets afraid. Makes sense to me. What does David do? Decides to mimic the behavior he’s seen in Saul. 1 Samuel 21:13 says David changed his behavior and “pretended to be insane.” Achish said, “Don’t I have enough of my own madmen? I don’t need one from Israel. Get him out of here.” And, David was sent packing, delivered from the hand of his enemies. Pretty crazy, huh?
It would be real easy for me to say the lesson for us is “When life gets crazy, get crazy with it,” but I don’t think that’s what David experienced. After all, he only pretended to be insane. Instead, I think the lesson is “Though people think we’re crazy, we’re still going to praise God!” That’s the message of David’s song. To the world, the life of faith can seem pretty crazy.
Crazy faith actually speaks and acts in a way that reflects the freedom God gives us, that reflects our trust in God so that we can actually become people who do good rather than evil—so that we can actually survive the craziness of this life. We don’t break the bad habits in our lives by simply sitting down and wishing them away. We break the bad habits by changing our behavior, by reaching for a carrot instead of catfish, by walking out of the store without buying the latest fashion and instead tithing to help do good, by turning off the television or computer and reading Scripture and then talking to God in prayer, or actually being quiet to hear God speak back. Yeah, I know. Crazy, right?
Perhaps if we trusted the Lord to fill us up when we were tired, exhausted, discouraged, we would discover the energy and power of God’s spirit, and actually be able to do more – not just to keep busy, but to change the world so that others could rejoice in God because they have experienced being rescued, they have experienced being heard, they have experienced being fed.
We live in a world where we are bombarded with advertisements and invitations to fill ourselves, to fill our lives with all kinds of stuff, believing these things, this “whatever” will make me truly happy. But we also live in a world which depletes us, making us wonder if we are successful or valuable. It takes crazy faith to sing praise when we can’t make sense of our lives. It takes crazy faith to trust when the world is caving in on us. It takes crazy faith to believe that God will provide all we need when it feels like we need it all. It takes crazy faith to hear the voice of God in the midst of all things that clamor for our attention and that drain us of our energy. David had crazy faith. He believed God even when his life was crazy.
Don’t think because your life is crazy that God can’t use you. Look at how he used David’s crazy life. God’s been using crazy for a long time. God uses crazy when crazy is all he’s got. It’s crazy that God used a murderer named Moses to deliver his people from Egyptian bondage. It’s crazy that God used a donkey to speak to Balaam. It’s crazy that God would use a Pharisee named Paul to change the world. It’s crazy that God would take a man named Peter, who denied Jesus not once, not twice, but three times, and use him as the first leader of his church.
It takes crazy faith to believe that God would put on human flesh, be born as a baby, grow up as a man, be crucified for the sins of the world, and three days later rise up from the grave. The world says that’s crazy! What’s even crazier is that God offers through His Son, Jesus, the opportunity for us to be reconciled to Him, simply by believing. I don’t have to jump through a bunch of hoops. I don’t have to do so many sacrifices. I don’t even have to pray a prayer in a particular way. All I have to do is accept and believe, and that’s crazy. It’s crazy, but it’s true. I know this sounds crazy, but God wants to use you…you with your life going crazy…you with your brokenness…you with your doubt…you with your confusion…you with your hunger. He wants to use you. He wants to use me, and I can tell you, that’s crazy, but when crazy is all he’s got, that’s what he’ll use.
Let me leave with five characteristics of “crazy faith”:
- Crazy faith doesn’t have God in a box.
- Crazy faith doesn’t always follow the “rules.”
- Crazy faith isn’t shackled by the fear of failure.
- Crazy faith believes it’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to ask permission.
- Crazy faith is driven by passion, not success.
Perhaps I’ll unpack those in my next blog.
Until next time, keep looking up…