Across the Pastor’s Desk: The Lord: a friend forever

Published 8:38 am Friday, August 8, 2008

Frederick Buechner has said “all theology is autobiography.” How you understand the sacred and the way you picture God (or not) will have a lot to do with your life story — the whole constellation of attitudes, values, and experiences that have shaped who you are today. That’s also the hard part about pushing some words across the pastor’s desk and hoping they will somehow connect with your journey of life and faith. If we do not know one another, the chances that my words connect with you are greatly reduced.

When I was very young, I admired adults who really seemed to have their “autobiographies” together. I imagined most grown-ups knew who they were and were comfortable with themselves and their life stories. But with age and maturity (the former comes much faster and easier than the latter) comes the insight that most folks are often just as bewildered as I am, just as prone to impatience, indecision, anxieties and all the fears that go along with being human. Although this insight might once have been a great disappointment to me, it is now quite refreshing and liberating.

I talk with a great variety of people who are as tattered and worn as the velveteen rabbit of that children’s story. It’s what makes them real.

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Think about this: Often your oldest and best friends are those who know you well — imperfections included — and love you anyway. The Lord of life is just such a friend for the whole world, and for you personally.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17)

With this friend you and I have in common, we can be real with one another, permitting his values of compassion and mercy to become our own.