"I'm Fine."

Last month at a Christmas party, my friend Mark sat down next to me and said, “So how have you been, man? How’s life?” Mark is the kind of guy who means it when he asks that question. He wasn’t just making small talk; he was interested and concerned. And I didn’t know how to answer. Amid all the small talk and drive-by conversations that fill up my days, it’s a rare blessing for someone to ask how you are and then take a seat and wait for a real answer. I was caught off guard by Mark’s genuineness. 

But I was also caught off guard by the absence of a good answer. I didn’t really have anything to report. We’re stable. A few stresses, a few little victories, daily joys and frustrations with kids. I didn’t want to repay his kind question with the standard and banal “busy” reply. So what did I say?

"Unexamined." 

I thought, “If I have nothing to report, I must not be looking hard enough. I must not be aware of God’s movement or my own soul enough to know what to report. I guess I’m coasting right now, not really paying attention."

This comes, partly, from my internal drive to produce and be interesting. But it also comes, partly, from Christian teaching. In my formative Christian years, I was part of many Bible studies where the weekly check-in question was “What is God doing in your heart?” I remember feeling intimidated by that question often. One of the most popular Bible teachers in that day was Henry Blackaby who taught us that “God is always at work.” God never rests from his mission in the world. Our task is to find where he’s working and join in. If we aren’t seeing his movement, we aren’t looking in the right places. This is true. But it’s also true that I’ll never know everything God is up to, and resting in my ignorance is an OK place to be. 

Sometimes — probably all too often — God is whispering an invitation to a wild new adventure in following him, and we miss it. Sometimes we fail to examine our lives and miss God’s best. But sometimes, we’re walking with God, we’re surrendered to his will, and we’re having a regular ol’ Wednesday. Sometimes the honest, and even spiritual, answer to “How’s life?” is “Just fine.” 

Last night’s State Of the Union address has me considering a state-of-the-soul check-up today. I spent several quiet minutes with Jesus this morning asking, “How are we? How is it with my soul?” And the answer — as simple and ordinary as it could be — was “pretty good.” 

If you feel pressure to always be “on,” to always have “a word from the Lord,” to always sound spiritual or interesting, let this truth bring you peace. Sometimes Wednesday is just Wednesday. Sometimes God gives us his presence and not a pep talk. Sometimes, it’s OK to be “fine."