Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Wheat and the Weeds

I had a pumpkin spice latte this morning from Starbucks, and it tasted like fall, and like Boston and rainy mornings and birds, like used bookstores and depth.  It tasted like refuge in God, like warm safety, like a feeling I can't quite describe, and time with Jesus by the lake and crispness and quiet.
I thought to myself: Surely, life has been sweet.

Last night I went with a bunch of girls to see The Giver.  I've read the book many times, because even as a child I think I knew it had something real and true to say about life.  (I hope I can leave my life having said things that are real and true).  I'm not a movie critic, so I won't comment on its value except to say I liked it and it touched something deep in me.

Life is so rich and so hard.

The world is so overwhelming when we stop to think of it.  War, and death, starvation, suffering, brokenness -- all is so achingly wrong, so painfully wrong.  And naturally our hearts long for the end of it all.  Many have asked why God doesn't rid the world of suffering, and its a bigger question than I could answer.  But The Giver touches on the reality that to rid the world of suffering is to rid the world of love, and all that is worth celebrating  -- of laughter, dancing, risk, sacrifice, and beauty.   Meryl Streep's character in the movie says, "When people have the freedom to choose, they choose wrong.  Every time."  And you can feel it from her character (side note: Meryl Streep is amazing), the frustration, the longing to be free from pain, the desire to control our circumstances.  Can't we connect with the truth in that, even in our own lives?  Can't we agree that we so often choose wrong?

Once, Jesus told a story to make a point about this.  From Matthew 13:
24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”
It just moves me.  The world is awful and good and broken and beautiful and we live here.  To pull up the weeds is to uproot the wheat.  To remove suffering and wrongness is to also remove beauty and life.  This is why Jesus came, in a way--because we are stuck here in a world that is terribly broken, and we need hope that one day it will all be dug up -- it will all be made right again.