My pastor is fond of preaching on the concept that God's ways are quite simple, and people have a way of complicating them. He preached this today, based on the reading of Naaman's healing after he humbled himself to bathe in the Jordan at the command of the prophet Elisha.
I can relate to this, as I have been fond of knotting things up and complicating things.
It seems to me that the knots and the complications come out of us for a reason, and that is to keep suffering at bay.
Look at Naaman. His basic issue was pride. He wanted some special ceremony that would be flashy and would fit his expectations. He wanted to be healed his way. But he had to submit himself. That hurt.
And hurt seems like it should be wrong. If it hurts, if it makes me uncomfortable, if it makes my life hard, it can't be God's way. Right?!?
One look at the cross and it is evident that this isn't right.
But there's something about that cross. It hurts, it is hard, and it makes me extremely uncomfortable, and yet at the same time it brings healing. Eventually it brings sweetness. (Ask the saints about that one.) Like the men thrown into the fiery furnace who lost only the ropes that bound them, the only thing the cross seeks to take from us is the things that bind us to this earth.
What trust it takes to lose creaturely goods to embrace eternal and spiritual goods. What good sense we have when we let God have His way with us, even if we have to get very confused about letting our very good ideas and intentions and safety zones and nice morality efforts all go up in smoke before Him. Let it all go.
It is all very simple. Take up the cross. Follow Jesus. Don't be surprised when He messes with you in ways you don't expect. Love, even though it hurts. Give, even when you think you can't, or shouldn't. Do whatever He tells you. Forgive those who spitefully use you. Lose your life for His sake.
You will find joy, you will find life, you will find meaning, purpose, adventure, and you will know love.
And isn't that what you want, after all?