I Gave Up Trump for Lent.
On Ash Wednesday I confessed that I needed to release myself from the former President and to release him from all that I have known, felt, written, and said over the past five years. My Lenten discipline would be to use news about him as a reminder to pray for him, simply lifting him into the presence of God with no presuppositions about what that might mean or what I might want.
Then CPAC came to Orlando, complete with a golden statue that spoke more biblical truth than its creators probably intended. (Exodus 32:1-20)
The next morning as I prayed, I remembered from my college days the question Campus Crusade for Christ taught us to ask to begin a conversation about faith, “If you died tonight and God asked why he should let you into his heaven, what would you say?” (I confess that I never used it!) It led me to a personally disturbing question.
If Donald Trump and I both died tonight, would we meet each other in heaven?
Will I Meet Trump in Heaven?
It may surprise some of my readers to know that my trembling answer is, Yes. I believe (or at least hope) that we will be together there.
I believe that in the presence of God, Donald Trump (and all the rest of us) will be totally overwhelmed by a greatness that is so much greater than any greatness we ever could have imagined that all our grandiose ideas of greatness will be miniscule. (Isaiah 6:1-5)
I believe that Donald (and we with him) will be amazed, surprised, flabbergasted by a love that has always loved him in ways that his tragically broken family was never capable of loving; the love for which he (and all of us) spend our entire life seeking. (1 John 4:9-10)
I believe that Trump (and all of us) will be humbled by a humility beyond our comprehension (Philippians 2:1-11), a kindness beyond anything he was capable of offering to others, and the infinite, immeasurable mercy that always forgives and welcomes every lost, confused, self-absorbed child home. (Luke 15:11-24)
And there, humbled by God’s greatness, amazed by God’s mercy, we will grow into the person God created us to be and was always at work to enable us to become. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
When we stand together in the presence of the God who loves every single one of us with exactly the same love, we will wonder why we didn’t love each other that way on this side of death. (1 John 4:7-9) If any of us in our arrogant self-righteousness begins to question why the other person is there, we will hear Paul declare that none of us are in God’s presence by what we have done or not done, but solely because of the undeserved, unearned mercy of God. (Romans 9:16) We may hear Jesus asking, “Are you resentful because I am generous?” (Matthew 20:15)
Ask for the Bleeding Charity
Outside of scripture, my favorite picture of Heaven is The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. It’s his imaginary story of a busload of folks from Hell who take a trip to Heaven where they can stay if they choose. There’s an amazing conversation between a “Bright Man,” a resident of Heaven who had been a murderer, and a “Ghost,” one of the visitors. Here’s the core of their conversation.
“Look at me, now,” said the Ghost, slapping its chest (but the slap made no noise). “I’m not asking for nothing but my rights. I just want to have my rights. Same as you, see.”
“Oh no. It’s not so bad as that. I haven’t got my rights, or I should not be here. You will not get yours either. You’ll get something far better. Never fear.”
“I only want my rights. I’m not asking for anybody’s bleeding charity.”
“Then do. At once. Ask for the Bleeding Charity. Everything is here for the asking and nothing can be bought.”
At the end of their conversation, the Ghost makes his decision.
“That may be alright for you. I don’t want charity, though. I didn’t come here to be treated like a dog. I’ll go home. Damn and blast the whole pack of you.“
And still grumbling but whimpering a little bit – it left. (p.34-35)
Lewis summarized his parable when he wrote:
“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell choose it … No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.” (p. 72)
That’s when I was disturbed by the memory of the “good” brother who resented his father’s love for his “prodigal” brother and refused to come in for the celebration. (Luke 15:25-30) Humbled by the way Jesus’ parable left him standing out on the porch, I prayed that I won’t miss the party. By God’s amazing grace and immeasurable mercy, I hope we’ll all be there!
Grace and peace,