Took a little break from trudging through piles of Brianna Wiest to start a glorious 45 and a half hours of Stephen Fry reading The Blandings Collection–truly, it’s hard to remember the gathering apocalyptic storm with Fry’s version of The Efficient Baxter humming along in the background–but now I am back on the wagon. However, I refuse to suffer alone, so here is a portion of a Blog Post or Article or whatever you want to call it from the dark ages of 2013. I listened to Wiest tell a version of this in her book (which I listened to for free on Audible) called The Truth About Everything. This little vignette was so funny I had to sit down and catch my breath from laughing. She sets up her Deep Thought this way:
It’s like there’s some extraneous force that can see beyond what you can and can guide you to better things. This is your God, parent and best friend. Finding trust in it is grace. The things you cannot change are the things you’d want to change if you had them. Doesn’t seem like it now, but trust me. The universe has the best understanding of what’s meant for us—especially when we don’t. There’s a famous Christian parable that I feel applies well to this idea. Please note that I do not affiliate myself with Christianity, so I would like to use this just as text to be analyzed.
Her apology in the book for daring to refer to anything “Christian” was quite heartrending and I was sure she was going to quote something really shocking from the Bible–couldn’t think what from the haze of her various musings on “Truth,” but still, I was alarmed. But then, this is the “Christian” “text” “to be analyzed.” If you don’t enjoy this little morsel, I’m not sure we can be friends–ready?
One night a man had a dream. he dreamed that he was walking along the beach with the Lord. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; one belonged to him, and the other to the Lord. When he looked back at the footprints, he noticed that many times there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the lowest and saddest times in his life. This really bothered him and he questioned the Lord about it. “Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, you’d walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.” The Lord replied, “During your times of trial and suffering, when you only see one set of footprints, was when I carried you.”
Truly truly I say unto you, the internet has almost never disappointed me in my life–or the Universe or whoever. Wiest concludes her theological #thoughtsandprayers this way:
This, I believe, is human-projection of the idea that when it least seems the universe is on your side, it’s most guiding you and carrying you. It aligns with my overarching belief that the common themes throughout religion and spirituality in general are the things we should most note. That is how I’ve built my own spirituality and I think that even if you decide to practice one definitive religion, it’s still important to consider the ideas and principles of others.
Yes yes. It sure is “important to consider the ideas and principles of others.” Protip though–“Footprints” isn’t a “Christian Parable.” I know a lot of Christians love it, but it’s not about the Jesus of the Bible. It’s about the American “Jesus Take the Wheel” version of god or the Universe or Whoever, the god who is always there to give you a little encouragement when you feel down and depressed. It’s the “Jesus” who goes with you through the drive-through and whispers sweet algorithms into your ear about what a lovely person you are. It’s the trite, fatuous “Jesus” of self-care and millennial burnout. It’s the “Jesus” who is no Jesus at all, who has no power to save you, and who couldn’t possibly lug you anywhere because he isn’t even God.
No, Jesus isn’t meandering with you on the sand and then occasionally–and, given who this beach-walking “Jesus” is, I would say creepily–carrying you when you’re too tired to walk. The real Jesus asks you to walk behind him–to…I know this is a tough concept–follow him after you’ve picked up the instrument of your own death, it’s called a “cross.” He puts it rather pithily this way:
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?
So anyway, the universe doesn’t have your back. It’s not thinking about you. It’s not a person. You, on the other hand, were made by God to worship him rather than yourself. If you give up yourself into the arms of the real Jesus, he will save your soul from death.
Have a nice day!