I like the word paradox.

Paradox, n. - any person, thing, or situation exhibiting an apparently contradictory nature. I'm a thinker by nature, and yet somehow this semester the Lord has been teaching me to be a "be-er." He's been asking me not to think but to do and be everything that I am in His presence. So as I pause for a moment and think about the past couple of months that I have struggled to "just be," I realize how much I don't know, how so many things are so confusing, and how it just encourages me to continue "being." Ironic - after "being," I try to think about what it means "to be" and it draws me to "just be" some more. And that's paradoxical.

In fact, life is paradoxical. Nothing is as it seems, and yet everything is as it seems. When I hear others describe me, they see me as a risk-taker, as someone who is passionate about life and adventure, someone who laughs a lot, someone who has difficulty facing the facts, someone who has a hard time crying in front of people, someone who studies a lot, someone who over-analyzes things, etc. And I am all of those things, but I'm also afraid of almost every risk I take, and afraid of getting out of my comfort zone, and sometimes laugh to cover up what I'm really thinking, and someone who knows the facts but likes to pretend. I'm a paradox. We're all paradoxes.

Does this mean that we're not being real? I don't think so. We're all afraid of things, and yet we spend our lives trying to conquer the fears. Someone who is brave probably has more fears than most of us because they have more fears to conquer. Someone who hates what the American church has become, and yet still goes to church and sits in the audience dissatisfied and bitter is a paradox. Someone who abhors violence on TV and speaks out against the media and yet goes and sees violent movies is a paradox. Life is a paradox, in fact, because the things we see as beautiful often are not, and the things we immediately discard are sometimes the biggest treasures of all.

So what can we do? How can we live honestly in this world of sin where paradoxes are abundant and disproving our arguements and inclinations?

The greatest paradox of all time was Christ's death on the cross. This one event was the most beautiful and the most terrible thing that has ever happened in all of history, and that will ever happen. Terrible because of the intense suffering of a perfect and beautiful man whose Love never fails, and beautiful because of the hope and assurance it gives us. Also beautiful because it proves that Jesus is real...it proves that our paradoxical lives are beautiful because Jesus died for us the way we are. Our filth and beauty is wrapped up in one and He loves it all. He loves it ALL. He died for it all.

My response to this amazing and terrible act is to just live. I don't need to question why He endured suffering and yet made it a beautiful sacrifice at the same time, I just need to respond to the great show of Love. I don't need to question life, and love, and why things happen, and what hope we could have, I just need to live and to love and to let His will happen and to have in hope in this great God who created life the way it is - this great God who lets the pain happen with the beauty.

So let us live and love and have hope. Don't throw caution to the wind, but trust that He is sovereign. Embrace the life He has given - just as it is. Embrace the beauty, but don't forget to embrace the pain. "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead." (Philippians 3:10-11)

Nothing matters except to "know Christ...the power of his resurrection...the fellowship of...his sufferings" so that we can live in the paradox of His amazing Love. It is everything that it appears to be, but it is also so much more, because His love is driven to us by the weight of His suffering.

He desires that we "just be," that we understand His love and grace and that we live in that, and that we seek to know Him intimately in the midst of a life that doesn't make perfect sense. Know Him - know His love, but also know His pain. Let it envelop you, because when we see Him like this, life becomes something we live in for, through, and because of Him.

This all may seem jumbled; after all, these are paradoxes we're talking about...but basically He wants to consume me, and consume you, and consume us, by letting us partake in His suffering and Love. This is why we're here. To be His, to know Him, and to then Love. That's all.