Tuesday, June 12, 2012
In the Land of Life and Death
In the throngs of unemployment I’ve been thinking a lot about endings and beginnings, pain and joy, purification and sanctity. Not because I’m having such a terribly time but small pains lead the mind to bigger pains and free time leads to meandering thoughts which compile into blog entries.
There have been times that I felt deep depression and sorrow with little to no relief. I could only see and feel the poison in my veins which deprived me of the strength and the ability to feel The Joy I knew held me. It was always in retrospect that I understood what was happening then. My God was sucking the poison from my veins and I cried and cried because it hurt and just when I thought it would be over it continued and I cried and cried, “My God why have you abandoned me?” It seemed I could only cry the first words of Psalm 22 and not continue. I didn’t know that this pain was necessary because it was healing things I never knew needed to be healed in order for me to have Life. The more I squirmed and tossed the more the process hurt, but as I let Him simply do what He had to I realized that I could breathe a little easier every day and that I began to experience the Joy mixed in with the Pain of letting God have His way with me.
One of the things He continues to try to take away is the idea that I know what is best for me and that I know what will truly fulfill my life. Those ideas I make up are very precious to me. I have them tightly woven into dreams in which every detail is played out and I present them to God saying, “Isn’t it beautiful the life I’ve thought up?” I say that I don’t mind what His Will is that it’s okay for Him to make of my life what He wishes, but I don’t really mean that. More often than not I make myself believe that I raised and pampered those dreams in the presence of God when really I hid myself in the closet, concocted them so that nothing could be poked or prodded until the masterful scheme of my life was completed. It is only then that I would present it, speak highly of it, say thy will be done and then go back to looking at my creation dreamily.
I am so attached to this dream or that dream that when it is brutally taken away the attachment I had to it is all too clear and the superficiality of my abandonment to God comes to light. It is afterwards that I enter into grief and the only way to have the grief bear fruit is to be willing to let God teach me who I am and what I truly desire more fully. He may not let me know right away because first and foremost he will teach me that what I truly want is to trust God with my whole heart and that every moment after the loss I have to choose to want him more than the company of my grief. He wants me to choose to give him the thoughts and actions of my present moment and not let my thoughts wander to the regret of the past and fear of the future, which can rob Him and me of so much glory.
The Devil surrounds all of us with our fears and regrets right before we take a leap to glorify God by living the present generously and boldly while carrying our burden. The carrying of a pain or loss does not exempt joy from daily life. Forget the flightiness of the happy and seek the depth of the joyful. Joy is rooted in Christ who is unmovable and declares suffering transformative and death conquered. This is why our burdens can be transformed and become both light and heavy. Heavy because a good lost should always be mourned, but light because it’s loss is not the end of Good. In the end if we are faithful we will experience All Good and be good ourselves. No longer burdened by our own weaknesses or the fallen world. The realist, the Christian knows this and so he mourns deeply but also laughs deeply because through this great battle of good and evil in a land both dotted with beauty and danger there is a Lord who is our ultimate end. Pain will end and Light and Wonder and Love will abound. I’d rather be awake and know I am a soldier with a Lord who I belong to and will have my rest in than be asleep and suddenly awake in surprise to find suffering with no knowledge of a cure. Christ is the cure to all our afflictions whether we can run, crawl or barely breathe.
To partake in the Divine Life is an honor, both extraordinary and ordinary. Every moment in life is tinged with a wisp of the wonderful and the mundane. The reality I clung to in the infancy of my life with God was a warped vision now made clearer by His Grace. The reality emerging before me is far more fantastic and terrifying than I imagined at the beginning of my spiritual journey. I realized that I have no control over my life except for my ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to Him and that truth is just shy of overwhelming. Sometimes my 'yes' is joyful, other times is it's painful. I am at the mercy of his Grace. I suspect that the more I become like Him Who Sees Most Clearly the wonders and terrors of the world will explode into images I could not have taken in without being blinded with my younger eyes.
One of the aspects of the Christian life is becoming more and more familiar with reality. You become neither a pessimist that proclaims all things shot to hell or an optimist who shoves hell under the carpet and pretends the room is perfectly safe. As a Christian becomes more and more like Jesus and knows him more intimately he becomes acquainted with the most sumptuous joy but also the darkness of death, the pain of suffering. You cannot know Christ and put on his life and likeness without knowing death. He said himself to find your life you must lose it (Mt 10:34-39). This abstract idea was brought to light when Jesus lost his life and found it. He was dejected and killed to show us that by embracing God’s will, even our death we will find ourselves resurrected. Jesus is the proof that sin can be conquered, that death is not the end. Life comes by laying down one’s life, and if He gave himself up to the short mercy of men why shouldn’t we give ourselves up to the limitless mercy of God?