As I opened Lukes’ letter from prison, my thoughts went back to 2 months earlier when he swore to never, never, ever, never be around his abusive wife again… but since things couldn’t be changed, and he was resigned to things not getting better – they got back together.
This led to drunken calls from motel rooms, screaming and fighting…and to her pressing charges and placing him back in jail for the 2nd time. His letter opened with “no matter right or wrong, it is what it is.”
This phrase is seemingly all over – and has an air of resignation, defeat, and seems to lend itself to accepting things as they are.
That kind of thinking is completely foreign to the Jesus that confronts us in the Gospels and in faith – where He calls people to repent, to make a radical change in their lives and to alter the ways we think, act, and react.
“Behold, I am making all things new!” (Revelation 21:5)
Imagine that, as the crowd heard His sermons and grew hungry, instead of feeding them, Jesus replied: “it is what it is”; or if He told the story of a lost sheep alone and terrified in the wilderness, and instead of leaving everything to save it, the shepherd shrugs his shoulders: “it is what it is”; or a blind man asks for his sight, and Jesus accepts the hopelessness of the situation: “it is what it is”… or seeing mankind trapped in sin and separated from our Creator – Jesus resigns Himself to that reality, and instead of giving His life for us, accepts defeat: “it is what it is”.
Life is about correctly seeing our circumstances and relationships, and asking the God of all grace and mercy to help us break free of the way things are.
Another friend God brought to us was Jason. He had lived in absolute squalor, a prison of his own choices to abuse drugs and alcohol – staying in a flea and bed bug infested flop house occupied by 10 other people. They had given up any hope of joy, freedom, or change. “I’m just a worthless dope addict, sleeping on a couch with mange covered dogs on a porch: “it is what it is.”
Instead of giving up, Jason came to us for release and a new start, a chance to repent, follow Christ, and to trust that God had a way out of the situation. We laid hands on him, he trembled as he was anointed with oil and was assured that he was a beloved child of God.
Things don’t have to be what they are, not when the God who spoke billions of galaxies into existence is fighting for our souls.
“it is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1)
Taking Jason to drug treatment, he recounted all the mistakes that had trapped him, and vowed to turn to God and allow Him to transform his life and heart – not leave it where it was. 30 days later, sober and driving to a long term life rehabilitation program, Jason made 3 desperate calls to those he loved most. Each person was living ‘it is what it is’. The family member who drank daily and couldn’t keep a job, the best friend shooting meth who was ready to take his own life, and the girlfriend off on a binge, where no one knew where she was or even cared.
We’ve got to acknowledge the seriousness of our situations, run from the past, and find freedom in the One that won’t leave us lost, hurting, hungry, or blind.
Lord, who came to give us abundant life – help us to not accept the culture of hopelessness – show us once again your mighty works, great love, and ability to make our hearts and lives into what you want them to be. Strengthen Luke and save him even while he’s in prison, and help Jason (and us) day to day as we break free of ‘it is what it is’ and follow you. Amen.
Local Mission Coordinator