Monday, October 19, 2015

on seeing hell

I sat in the bank parking lot with my children as a man stormed from the ATM. A cloud of fury rumbled in his every step, anger fumed out of every unkind word that he yelled at the child by the car, at the woman inside it. A cyclone of brokenness  just 10 feet away. I turned up the music so my kids wouldn't hear the wealth of vocabulary. I kept my face still, but my soul ached over the slamming of doors and the way they hurled despair at each other like knives glistening in the afternoon light. 

One door wouldn't close properly, so the man stomped out to close it and he continued to berate her for daring to need more than the $60 he gave her last week. The child never spoke, but he wouldn't have been heard. The engine took two turns of the key to start. As they roared away, the exhaust muffling the battle of words, I felt heavy in the seat of our old car. It's not beautiful or terribly clean and we are hopeful for the day we get to replace it with something larger, but it's our and it runs. Really though, what does a steel machine matter? 

Someone wrote a book and dared to question the wide spread understanding of heaven and hell. An all-out assault was launched at his daring ideas, but if you ask me, I might agree with him.  Do we dare to see that hell is now, right here on this earth, every breathing moment of  existence for far too many people.  Would you dare it look for it?  It won’t be hard to find.

Check the eyes first, that’s a good start.  Outer shells of humanity strutting and fretting about the stage, like Shakespeare wrote so long ago, drudging through the rise and fall of the sun.  Shells so empty from the soul sucking despair of their realities, can it even be called a life?

I sat in my car, my kids being so noisy and happy. My husband walked out the doors and got inside.  I told him what I had witnessed. 

The sea of troubles is great, the quaking world is ripe with terror and despair, but Jesus said that the Kingdom of heaven is here. I don’t think it matters if we really understand what that fully means, but I don't think the religious people liked that either.  I don’t think it’s about doctrine or theories, but I think it’s simple. The light that pierces the darkness, every single time. 

So much of what I hear from the church world feels like chaos and noise, except for the part that brings hope and feeds the hungry and comforts the broken. The part were we come alongside the weary and say, let's walk together. The part were we remember what kind of kingdom we are hoping to build. The part where we take the little bits of the Kingdom of heaven we've been given and do something about it, instead of just holding out for the rest.

Because yes, if you dare to look, hell is all around us, but so is the kingdom. It glows and sings and radiates and dazzles.   Do you see it? Do you feel it too?

It's a mad and quaking world. Romans reads that creation is groaning, and oh how loud it echoes throughout the land, roaring from the deeply broken souls. And if we listen closely, a voice is asking, what shall we do about all this hell?


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