God Comes to Roch
“Don't do that!” I shouted with a start as I opened my eyes and saw a figure looming over my bed.
“Get up,” the familiar man said.
I sat up, propping myself up on my elbows. “You don't exactly score points for subtlety, you know.”
“Up,” the figure insisted as he turned and headed out of the bedroom. “And I could use a drink.”
Stumbling in the dark, I followed him down the hall into the darkened living room. “Wait, what time is it? It's the middle of the night!”
The man flipped a lamp on and found himself a seat on the couch. “You live with people now. It's hard to find a time when you are alone for some private and genuine conversation.”
I stood dumbfounded for a moment.
“You never pray anymore,” he clarified.
“I don't know how to pray,” I replied with a shrug and walked into the kitchen. “Now you said you wanted a drink? I don't think they have...”
“Surge,” came the voice from the couch.
My sleepy and cloudy mind cleared enough for me to remember the more idiosyncratic details of the last time God paid me a visit in some tangible, corporeal form. “Oh yes, that's right, the Divine has a taste for Surge,” I recalled as I opened the fridge and pulled out a cold can of the green labeled soda.
Handing him the precious Surge, I plopped down unceremoniously next to God on the couch. Maybe I should have sat with more reverence. Maybe I shouldn't have sat down at all and remained standing in the presence of the King. But it was late, I was tired and disoriented, and God was drinking my Surge.
The next few moments were filled by awkward silence as he opened the can and savored the first couple sips. “Well,” he said, “now that you've been reminded of my fondness for this stuff, is there anything else you remember from the last time we talked?”
Looking around the well decorated and furnished living room in the house that I was presently staying at, it struck me once again at just how much my life had changed since a few short months ago. “You told me that the next time you came to see me I shouldn't still be where I was.”
“And you're not,” God nodded. He didn't exactly nod with approval or even disapproval. It was more like he was just acknowledging the fact that I had uprooted my entire life and moved away, as if it was as simple as going to the store and buying a gallon of milk.
“But I'm still lost!” I objected. “And I'm terrified and scared and I don't know how to make it through tomorrow!”
“Are you more lost than you were in South Dakota? Yes? Good. You're supposed to be lost. You're supposed to be so desperate and destitute that your only resort is to cry out to God in the form of some absurd story in order to confess all your fear and failings. Why? Because that's one of the few ways you ever even talk to me anymore. And because someone else might read this and realize they're not alone in being lost, screwed up, and irreparably broken.”
I looked down at the floor. “You know, your bedside manner is still incredibly lacking. There's this thing called 'tact,' and you...”
“Shut up for a minute,” God cut me off. Believe me, no matter how tired and irreverent you might be, when God tells you to shut up, you tend to shut up.
Setting his can down on the coffee table, God leaned forward and turned to face me directly. “How many times do I have to say it before it gets through to you? You still think I'm going to fix you. I'm not. I did not come here to fix you. I came here to tell you that you are broken and I love you anyway. I love you because you are broken. I love you just the way you are. You don't need to be fixed.”
This was too much. There was still something wrong with me, something that needed to be repaired. My life was out of sorts and I needed a course correction. Something in me needed to be fixed so I could finally start traveling in the right direction, whatever heading that may be.
I stood up and began to shout half a word before I remembered that everyone else in the house was fast asleep. Catching myself, I resumed my rant in a hushed voice before the Lord. “Come on, now! Look at me! Look at my life! There must at least be some defect that needs to be fixed so that I can actually be a good Christian.”
God leaned back and squinted his eyes. “What the hell is a good Christian?”
“What?” I spat back, quite confused.
“Seriously, tell me. What is a good Christian supposed to be? Because I've never seen one.”
I stuttered and mumbled as I tried to form my thoughts into words. “You know, everything they tell us in church that we are supposed to be and how we are supposed to behave. You know, everything that I'm not! A Christian is supposed to read the Bible and like it, pray and like it, and look forward to going to Church all the time!”
God shrugged. “I'm not really too concerned with any of that.”
I don't really possess the vocabulary to accurately describe the shape my face contorted into when I heard that.
“Listen,” God explained after seeing the bizarre expression on my face. “If you like to read the Bible, go ahead and read it cover to cover. If you like to pray, please go ahead and pray. If you like going to church, go have a blast! But if you feel forced or coerced into any of that, what's the point?”
“But I'm a failure at all those things. I'm a failure at being a Christian,” I insisted.
God shrugged again. “Says who? Look, I know better than anyone that you don't read the Bible much. But when you do you tend to pick it the crap apart and have a jolly good time doing it. You don't pray five minutes a day, or whatever youth pastors advised you to do in your youth, but you periodically write these stories detailing our conversations. And frankly I rather prefer these stories, for they are far more real and raw than any of your attempts at 'normal' prayer.”
I shook my head at this explanation. “But this is just a story. This isn't even real!”
Biting my lip, I looked at God sitting on the couch with increased speculation. Is this really what God would say? Or was the fact that God was tapping into my love of stories and their potential to bleed into our reality just an indication that God was just a character in a story I was writing?
“And right now you're wondering if God really is justifying what you always thought was categorically 'un-Christian' behavior, or if you are just conveniently writing a story about God where God justifies your deviant and devoutless conduct.” God cocked his head up and looked wonderingly at the ceiling, perhaps perceiving through that fourth wall to the man typing away at the keyboard.
“It always freaks me out when you do that.” I wasn't sure if that was said by the Mitch with God on the couch or by the Mitch writing about God on the couch.
“Does anybody even follow these narratives?” I asked God.
“You do tend to make it unnecessarily confusing.”
I sat back down next to the Creator of the universe as he gulped down the last of his Surge. “So now what? I'm in a new town with a new job and basically a new life. And I don't really like any of it.”
“That's perfectly fine.” God still was not good at allaying my fears. “This isn't the endgame. This was never meant to be the destination. It's yet another stepping stone. It is part of the journey.”
“What is the destination?” I inquired.
God stood up. “Quit trying to figure out the point of your life and start trying to accept that this mysterious, messed up, uncertain journey of your life might very well be the point of it all.”
“That sounds very ominous,” I remarked.
“I think it sounds adventurous,” God said with a brilliant smirk. “One more for the road?” he asked, casually nodding toward the empty can of Surge on the coffee table.
I returned to the kitchen and grabbed the last can of Surge from the refrigerator, piously handing it over to God.
“Go back to bed,” he said, the can in his hand. “I'll see myself out.”
“I'm not sure I feel much better about anything,” I said, hoping for one last bit of divine wisdom that would finally solve all the unending riddles of my life.
God shook his head one more time. God shakes his head a lot at me, come to think of it. Sighing, he explained, “It's not about the answers. It's about the dialogue and conversation. Now go to bed, Mitch.”
Later I woke up in bed to the annoyance of my alarm going off. Still groggy, I was unsure if everything that happened that night was anything more than just a dream.
But there wasn't anymore Surge in the fridge.