I received a lovely email last evening. Apparently a church is interested in having me come talk with them. A Baptist church, nonetheless. It should be fine. I’m technically half Baptist. The south might be the only part of the world that defines their cultural identity by which denomination of Christian they are. “I grew up Catholic, but I’m part Baptist, part Methodist, and apparently some distant relatives dabbled in the Pentecostal tradition. We don’t really talk to them anymore.”
Ever since the email I, of course, have been rehearsing what I would say over and over again in my head. Surely they’ll want to know how my relationship with God works its way into my battle against cancer.
I wish I had some amazing answer. The truth is, I don’t really know. I stopped asking God for it to go away somewhere between the 8th and 9th Facebook post about a young father or mother dying from this.
Plus I’m a 2 on the Enneagram scale. Which means I’m all about helping people, but apparently if you don’t fawn over me or return the favor, I secretly hate you. That’s not the kind of relationship I want to have with The Thing That Created All Things.
But I do believe in something bigger than myself, and that relationship does help me. If for no other reason than it reminds me that I’m incapable of understanding how things work all of the time, and that’s ok.
Here’s what I mean:
One of my favorite stories in the bible is about a guy who owns a vineyard. They always seem to own vineyards, don’t they? Just goes to show that from time eternal people have loved getting wasted.
Anyway, this guy owned a vineyard. Let’s call him Kendall Jackson. It was harvest time and he needed some help. He sent out word. Made a Craigslist post, or whatever people did at the time. He hires some folks, and first the next morning they show up with their Grande Blonde Roasts and get to work. Around noon he walks out realizes that he’s got a lot more grapes than he expected. So he hires some more people. Then at 3pm, he’s like STILL MORE GRAPES? I’M GOING TO BE RICH AF! And he goes out and hires yet more people. Basically the entire town has stopped what they were doing and is helping Kendall Jackson make box after box of wine.
Finally they get over the hump and he starts letting people go. Beginning with, and this is going to blow your mind, the people who got there at 3. The people who got first thing were like, surely, that's an oversight. But then he releases the next group of people, and it’s the ones who got there at noon. By this point the Grande Blonde Roasts have totally worn off. They're exhausted. They’re hungry. And they cannot understand why the people who got there last are leaving first.
Then this thought pops into their head: overtime! YAS QUEENS! Kendall Jackson is for sure going to give us over time. They started making jokes about being willing to stay there all night for time and a half.
Finally, Mr. Jackson goes to the people who got there at the crack of dawn, thanks them for their work and tells them they can go. They pull out their phones, check their direct deposits, and whatthefuq.net? There is no overtime. And, areyoukiddingme.gov, we got paid the same as the ones who barely did anything!?
They started to freak out. Obviously. They go to Kendall Jackson like- we got here first! You paid them the same! Your wine kind of sucks!
Kendall, very calmly, says, "I paid you what we agreed upon. Are you mad because I’m generous?”
That story always stops me in my tracks. It outrages my sense of justice. My sense of what is fair. That’s because I want quid pro quo. I do this, I get that. Good. Bad. Easy. Peasy. But apparently that’s not how the universe works. God’s ways are not my ways. I can either waste my time trying to figure them out, or I can marvel at the wonder of the vineyard.
I choose the later. It’s worked so far.
Yeah- those Baptists are going to eat me alive!