I hear “I see life in black and white terms” often… once we start talking it’s not long before I hear the word “should.”
My husband shouldn’t have chosen porn over me.
The pastor shouldn’t have treated me that way.
My kids should have… (some have a long list behind this one).
I shouldn’t have gotten hurt by…
My father should have spent more time with me.
I should have…
Why did God allow that! If He loved me He should have stopped it from happening.
The government should (or shouldn’t) have…
At some point those who have adopted their strict sense of black and white have internalized the idea that “black and white” is the way life is… should be. There’s a belief system under the hood that drives “black and white” and must be reached to help before they can see the gray zone.
Job had the same struggle.
Before Job lost his 10 children, business, and employees all in one day, his life worked. He pleased God and was a blessing to others. Once the Lord allowed Satan to viscously attack Job, his black and white belief system surfaced, which was: “If I have a good relationship with God and do good things to others, then only good things will happen to me.”
After that belief was shattered, Job’s three friends showed up. Their black and white belief system was that “if bad things happen to people it’s because they sinned.” Job’s three friends spent most of the book of Job trying to ram their theology down his throat… until God showed up and showed them that both sides were wrong.
Job’s ordeal began with an intense, unseen spiritual battle where Job’s faith was put on the line… a gray zone… where Job was left with nothing but his faith, three friends who were obsessed about being right, and a wife who told him to curse God.
The Gray Zone isn’t an area where truth and lies mingle. There is no such thing. The Gray Zone is a wide expanse between the black and white. Some assume that the black and white are the borders of life, the rules that everyone should follow; the safe zone.
Black and white doesn’t work, does it? We can spend all the time and energy we want lining our life up with the way we think it should work, but eventually something will happen that triggers a wipe-out.
The Gray Zone is cloudy, with patches of dense fog. We can’t see the way through. Rule books don’t work in the Gray Zone, though many have tried to write one. The Gray Zone scares those with black and white filters to death because they can’t see the path ahead. There is no safety in the Gray Zone. There is risk. The only way through is to walk with a God you can’t see and do what He says. Trusting God to lead you and obedience are critical. And often, all you have. Or need.
For we walk by faith, not by sight.
2 Corinthians 5:7
You will probably get hurt in the Gray Zone. You’ll make mistakes and will probably hurt others. But your faith and your walk with God will grow like crazy in the Gray Zone. So will your joy, peace, and inner strength. As you walk with God and learn to hear His voice, obey Him, trust Him, He will lead you into wide open spaces with pristine mountain ranges, clear sparkling streams of life-giving water, and lush green vegetation.
God invites every believer to enter the Gray Zone. Some cling to the black and white (their “shoulds”) because the Gray Zone isn’t safe, they’re afraid of getting hurt, they’ve bought into a lie that their black and white walls will protect them and give them life, they’re too fond of their comfort zone, or… their pride. They refuse to do life God’s way.
Remember Moses, the guy who met God on the mountain for 40 days? When God called Moses to join Him in His mission to lead Israel out of Egypt, Moses tried to back out by telling God the Israelites wouldn’t believe him, (God gave him a staff that changed to a snake), said he wasn’t a good speaker (God offered him Aaron, who Moses didn’t need), then when that didn’t work, Moses said:
“Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” (Exodus 4:13).
Sorry God, not my spiritual gift. I murdered a man and being a shepherd is all I deserve. Besides, I’m quite comfortable with all the peace and quiet in the wilderness the last 40 years. My animals would miss me.
I’m sure Moses felt quite safe in the wilderness, away from everyone. After all, isn’t being safe what life’s about?
There is no safety in this world. The events of the past two years reinforce this. Children get molested, beaten, abused, neglected, even trafficked, every day. Spiritual abuse and sexual abuse are rampant in the church among adults. The murder rate is the highest it’s been in years. So are suicide rates. We live in dangerous, dark times.
Many are falling away from the church because of faulty beliefs. Years of comfortable sermons that coddle God’s people and focus solely on love have failed to equip them to suffer and to be overcomers and spiritual warriors. They’ve been put to sleep and indoctrinated with the idea that their home is “safe for the whole family.” When their black and white illusion crumbles they may collapse with it.
I’ll leave you with several questions.
Are you holding onto the illusion that “black and white” works? Remember, I’m not talking about truth and error, but the belief that life should work a certain way… your way.
How’s your relationship with God? Are walking with Him on a moment-by-moment basis? Do you trust Him no matter what, even if circumstances fall apart?
What happens when trials hit? Do you collapse into a pile of rubble, harden your heart, or turn to false comforts such as sex, food, drugs, alcohol, media binging, or work-addiction?
There are no safe zones for a church at war. Are you a spiritual warrior and a fighter, or a comfortable Christian who’s singing in the battlefield and hoping you won’t get hit?
Are there any wounds you need to heal from?
Are you living in the risky adventure of the Gray Zone? Is the Christian life an adventure to you? Or is it just about being nice and going to church?
What is God saying to you today?
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.