By Rev. Dr. Brian Gigee
“Either / Or Both / And”
It’s a no-brainer to not believe life isn’t full of choices. We all get to choose. Every day. And some choices turn out better than others. This is usually due to making the better choice. Our faith impacts how we choose and what we choose. Faith matters and those choices vary from the kind of shoes we wear on our feet to the kind of car we drive to the spouse we take and even the names we place on our children. There are those who take the attitude of choices being “either/or” and there are others who life’s choices are “both/and.” Which one are you?
I remember the story of two old men talking about life and all that was and all that wasn’t. Their conversation went something like this…
“You know I’ve been sick these past 5 days and I just can’t seem to shake it,” said the first. “I’m getting kind of worried about it.”
The second man chimed in. “Well, there’s only two things that can happen. You either get better or you don’t. If you get better, there’s nothing to worry about and if you don’t there’s only two things to worry about. You either go to the hospital or you don’t. If you stay in the hospital for a short while and go home, then, there’s nothing to worry about. If you don’t leave the hospital, then, there’s only two things to worry about. Either you live, or you die. If you live, then, there’s nothing to worry about. But, if you die, then, there’s just two things to worry about. Either you go to heaven, and you have nothing to worry about or you go to hell.”
The first man seemed a bit stunned with the news and the way it was presented.
Then the second man continued. “And in your case, if you go to hell, you’ll be so doggone busy shaking hands with all your friends, you won’t have time to worry about it, anyway. So, don’t worry about it.”
The first man said, “Ok, I’m gonna call my doc!”
If choices were that easy… And that’s the point. Sometimes… well maybe more times than we want to believe… choices can be hard. Life wrenching and life altering choices. Either/or kind of choices casts any of us into a two layered world. Donkeys or elephants? Designated hitter or none? For profit or not-for-profit? Pull the plug or not? It feels like do or die or win or go home kind of stuff. And it is. It’s a set-up. “We’ve seen the enemy and they are us,” Pogo said.
But, then, again, there’s the paradox of God. I mean the universe isn’t either/or… it is normally both/and. And I like the latter better than the former. Because in it, while I get pain… that feeling, and moment is replaced with joy. I experience darkness and yet, the light always follows. The work I do is linked to the rest I need. It’s kind of like what St. Paul wrote… “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). It’s the both/and part of life we dare not ignore.
See, in my case, with the faith I carry into the world I believe that I’m a sinner all the time. I cannot not be broken. It’s on me. But I also have a faith that trusts the grace of Jesus who makes me a saint. Not either/or… a sinner sometimes and then a saint but both/and… a sinner all the time as well as a saint all the time. The sinner is my doing. The saint on Jesus. Pure gift. God’s choosing… because God has choices, too. God’s faith matters. Jesus trusted that. Christ’s faith is us is eternal. So, what are we worried about? Brian
Brian Gigee is a long-time resident of Pearland and the lead pastor at New Life Lutheran Church at 3521 E. Orange St. in Olde Pearland. You can follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Friend2theRabbi. Comments and questions can be sent to [email protected]