My heart sank as the news hit. I was stunned that it the news did not come from a more official source to me. How was I just now hearing that Donald Miller, the famous Christian writer and New York Times Best Selling author of Blue Like Jazz (and what I will believe will be another top selling hit “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” due out this September). I had planned an event that featured Donald Miller and already thousands upon thousands were eager and planning to attend the ACU Summit 2009.
I had to shake myself awake. This was not news at all, but a dream (so far as I knew). It was so vivid that I had to google news services just to make sure. No, Donald Miller had not committed suicide!
However, what if it did happen? To let you know how shaken I was by this (false) news - I already began to plan what I would do as Director of Ministry Events if this were to happen. I do not mean “administratively” or “to rescue the program.” That really is not my first reaction. I began to consider what would people need to explore given the news that a “rock star” Christian author had given into the worst lie pitched to humanity – that death is a better option than life. That any death is better than anything about the life I have to live. A lie. The worst lie!
My heart began to explore how we would probably still meet, but without Donald Miller. We would meet but we would explore how it could be possible that the Christian world could exalt someone while at the same time allow that person to be left without hope and community and a friend. At times there seems no difference between the Christian celebrity culture and the pop celebrity culture.
My hope is that the Christian – any and every Christian – is so connected to their relationship with God and seeking God that any success or failure is irrelevant when compared with being in the presence of God. A Christian finds their entire identity from God (not from sales figures, enrollment numbers, poll results, or leadership popularity percentages).
The difference between a follower of Christ and a follower of billboard or red carpet or box office snapshots is the kind of person that we are becoming for all eternity. It is not a moment in time, but a life of time invested in God.
So many of us are plodding through life. We have an image of what success looks like: a raise, a job, a location, a car, an office, selling a book, writing a screenplay, having money, being on the screen, or whatever. This is usually something that is out of reach or just out of reach. It escapes the present moment in which we find ourselves as we are before God. We don’t live in the future or in an illusion. We don’t even live in the past of good or bad decision. We live in the here and now.
This unreal dreaming is an escape from the reality that God loves us right now – as we are. Not when we get a little better. Not when we actually amount to something. Certainly not to when we cross some benchmark of what we or others think of as "success." God loves us as we are right now. No, God won’t love us a little more if we loose a few pounds, spend a few weeks in the gym, improve our language, read that book we must ready or take that class we ought to take. God loves us as we are.
When we let God love us in the moment as we are then and only then can we find our identity. We are beloved by God. We are God’s child without any extra effort or special action. We simply are. From that identity we may become who God intends for us (and it is better than our wildest dreams). We are God's child, whom he loves dearly. Each day we are making life choice that will allow us to become the kind of person we will be for all eternity.
So live. Choose life (not death). Choose to let God love you. Live with God now.
[. . . and once more for the record, Donald Miller is alive and well as far as I know. Sorry for any shock, but believe me I was shaken]