There is a woman on my street who is loving, gentle, thoughtful, caring, joyful, and redolent of a deep inner peace. She has that beauty that comes from the inside and radiates outward. I see her on her porch early in the morning having coffee and earnest conversation with her husband. They walk down the street at a leisurely pace, hand-in-hand, and she points out flowers to him, and he listens.
And she is not a Christian.
She came over this evening and we swung on my porch swing for a while. She told me about the party she threw for her mother's 90th birthday, and how her childhood and high school friends sent greetings from hither and yon. She seemed deeply moved when speaking of her parents.
She has been married to the same man for 30 years and they have a daughter who graduated from high school last year. My own daughter served hors d'oeuvres at the party they threw for her graduation, and at one point during the party she spotted the new graduate crying in the bathroom and asked what was wrong. The girl said she was sad because she was moving to California and wouldn't have her mother to talk to anymore.
I am not like my neighbor. I am not so loving, so kind, so gentle, so peaceful, and do not have a close relationship with my daughter. My neighbor is all the things I want to be.
And I am a Christian.
If you are expecting a satisfying resolution to this depressing state of affairs, I do not have one. I was scrambling for understanding, but nothing I come up with helps. My neighbor, who does not have Jesus in her life, is a better person than I, who does have Jesus. That's all I can tell you. I could rattle something off about a hardness at the center of her heart toward God that I could suppose is there. But I don't see it.
Sometimes I just have to say about certain baffling situations: I don't know. Actually, it's rather liberating to say it: I don't know. There are lots of things about life and about God that I don't understand, and I don't' feel like trying to fake an answer, because the truth is: I don't know.