So we went in “group fashion” ( I think there were 12 of us) to the Rob Bell event last night at the Congress Theatre on the north side of the city. A guy from our group was moved by his “Everything is Spiritual” DVD so we kindly bought us all tickets when he heard Bell was coming to town.
That was nice of him, wasn’t it?
Rob’s chat lasted just under two hours and was entitled “Drops Like Stars.” He says he gained the inspiration for the title of his talk on suffering and creativity from his three-year-old nephew who kept saying, “Stars, Stars, Stars” as he watched the rain came down because he thought that when raindrops hit the ground for a split second they look like stars. He used that piece of imagery to liken the good and purpose that results from pain and suffering.
Rob’s messages aren’t for everyone…they’re quite deep, use a lot of artsy illustrations and examples, and if you’re looking a three-point, half hour sermon using long passages of scripture, he’s not really your guy.
This message was about suffering…bad things in life…and really not why these things happen, but where to go from there.
He began discussing the story of the prodigal son and how this story seems to be like a Hollywood movie that has an ending where the screen fades to black and seem to have a terrible ending…simply because it doesn’t tell how the elder brother responded to the father’s kindness. He talked about how:
“Some jealous older brothers “never join the party, some fathers never throw one, some brothers never come back, some things never get resolved…now what?”
The next hour and a half was dedicated to exploring the idea of “What now?” in response to the tough times life throws you. A few nuggets of the deep deepness we were in last night:
- He had us write with our non-dominant hand the words “I know how you feel” and exchange it with someone we didn’t know who experienced a similar crisis as you in the past (as evidenced by a show of hands)
- “Pain has a way of making us more honest. If you find someone and you both have the same disease as someone else or both have a daughter with an eating disorder or have a brother in jail or had a spouse die or recently were fired…you have a bond that transcends whatever differences you have. That’s what suffering does…this is the art of solidarity.”
- “God does not waste any of the circumstances in your life. Even the failures, sins, mistakes, and wrongs. They are also an opportunity to grow, expand, and learn. This is the art of failures.”
- “What every artist must learn is that even the failed pieces are essential.”
That was good stuff. It’s kind of hard trying to digest all that stuff walking down the street after the “show” at 10:00 pm, but the main thing I took away was that it’s just not worth beating yourself up for past failures, missed goals, a selfish past because God and will use those things.
So often we hear the Christian copout responses( you know what I’m talking about) when you’re going through a tough time and we hear that God “can” use this situation however he wants…but after hearing this, I would suggest that not only can he, but you can almost bet on the fact that he WILL use your situations for good. There are countless examples of this in his word and he’s not finished using failed, broken people with a past for good.