Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Mark of Maturity

I vividly remember an encounter I had as a young woman in the Lord. An older woman in our church was giving me a piece of wisdom that I did not appreciate. It had something to do with the security of the believer, or lack thereof. I remember not the exact words which were given. But I do remember one thing.

The dissonance. I had received certain truths into my spirit which had been the cause for much rejoicing, and I was very protective of that world. It surrounded me. The contradictory dissonance rang in my ears in such a way that I was afraid to let it continue.

After all, if I let my worldview shatter, then I would be vulnerable. I would have to work hard to rebuild my understanding. Seeking out the truth can be time-consuming, and I believe many, myself included at the time, are far too lazy to be such a seeker.

Seeking the truth diligently is rather akin to being in a perpetual construction zone. It can be messy. And overwhelming at times. Chances are that as soon as one area is finished, another one will be crumbling and require attention. Yet continued diligence in this area will yield a world view which is strong and likely to crumble much less completely and much less frequently. The key is: let it crumble!

I believe in the world of Christendom it is very easy for people to ride upon another's understanding. And to blindly follow another's world view without having tested it themselves. This is why it is very difficult in some churches to ask questions. After all, who are we to question what Bible scholars and great pastors have "figured out" before us? Certainly we must respect our teachers and learn from those around us. But I have heard it said that any pastor worth his salt will be rejoicing when questions abound about the Word of God. I agree! And we plan to find such a pastor, as we are currently seeking a new place of worship, closer to home.

But truth seeking is not limited to the Bible; though to the yielded Christian that may be the only important thing. God gave us a brain and put us in a rational world; a world that makes sense. We can use our minds to understand that world. I believe we have a responsibility to peel back the layer of deception which is often found in mainstream media, and to be a seeker of the truth in all areas of life; to disallow the worldview of ease in our lives. We can do this in many different ways. The internet provides a way to look at history as it is happening, instead of waiting for the polished (often inaccurate) version to show up in a textbook. There are some very reliable news sources today. Just by having a mindset which questions instead of accepts, we can filter through a myriad of errors.

One of my favorite Christmas specials is Mister Bean's Christmas. In this hilariously funny episode, Mr. Bean goes shopping for some Christmas ornaments and he chooses two shiny balls. He decides to test them by bouncing them upon the hard cement floor. The first one shatters. He is undeterred, and throws down the second one, which amazingly bounces right back up. He smiles, satisfied that he has chosen the best decoration, and moves on (note that he broke it, but he did not buy it ;-) ).

I like his courage. He is not afraid to test something beautiful and fragile, though it may break, and in the end he has a durable, beautiful ornament that he can be proud of.

In my mind that willingness to forge ahead and find the truth, whatever the cost, is a true mark of maturity. For the last few years or so I have listened eagerly when others expound about the truths they hold dear, and I am thankful that I have learned to tune out dissonance (usually :-) ), as I examine my particular view of the world for flaws. My world view has changed, as a result, and I believe this is a very good thing.

These thoughts are the result of watching a passionate truth-seeker in action. I have grown to admire and emulate my husband's journey to find a truly consistent world view.

Note to husband: Nathan - you inspire me! I think you have the most consistent world view of anyone I know, and I love you for your love of the truth. I thank my God for you always...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

When Perfection Comes, the Imperfect Disappears

My heart was stolen by Mr. Self-Help. He was strong, and it seemed he could fix anything. Surely, my heart reasoned, this was the One for me. And my heart loved him, for a time. We read lots of books together. And he seemed to have all of the answers. That is, until my heart realized that he was just a box of bandaids, and he burned up in the fire. When the smoke had cleared away, I stood at the edge, overlooking the glory beyond, out of my reach. Then my heart cried for him, shook off the crusty bandaids, and moved on.

When Mr. Self-Denial showed up on my doorstep, I was intrigued. He was wiry and he moved slowly, but he seemed to have a lot of wisdom. I followed him, for a time. My heart thought, surely this is the path. If I give up food and pleasure, it will strengthen this heart of mine and I will see glory. Surely. But my heart could not do it, for it was surrounded by a weak and fleshly body. One day Mr. Self-Denial left me in the dust. When it had cleared away, I once again stood at the edge, overlooking the glory beyond, out of my reach. I didn't even cry for him.

I just stumbled over Mr. Penitent. He was kneeling in the tall grass and he looked up, startled as I fell over him. He had the saddest eyes; he seemed to be perpetually on the verge of tears. I liked that - a guy who could cry. I fell hard for him. We were together for ages it seemed. And he saw everything. My heart was an open book. Together, we poured it all out, but it seemed I would never be like him, and eventually I tired of those eyes. I realized that my heart would never be penitent enough. I would never be good enough for him, and when he saw that I despised him, he left me. I was so relieved, that I cried.
But I was still left with a wounded heart, surrounded by a weak and fleshly body. And I wandered, seeking a path to the glory which landed on my face but refused to permeate my heart.

At first I almost missed the knock, it was so soft. And the voice of Glory. Hope flooded my heart, and I threw open the door excitedly. He stood there with his arms wide open, pulsing with passion and life and love emanating from the source. I couldn't look upon Him, for the guilt which flooded my soul took the starch from my legs and I crumbled to the floor, sobbing. Slowly, I rose to look at Him again. He wanted me, I could tell. It was entirely unfathomable. How could this be? There was nothing that I could offer him; nothing that I could take to Him. How could I put my weak body in contact with His glory? It couldn't happen. I just couldn't see how it could happen! My heart throbbed for him, but my body trembled in weakness and fear. I turned away. When I looked up, He was gone.

I sat there in my house for days, feeling that nothing would ever be the same. Had I blown it? Because of my pride? But Lord, no good thing dwelleth in me... Woe is me! I am a woman of unclean lips! I am a woman with weak flesh....

Yet my heart desires You above all.

I made up my mind that if He returned, I would not draw back. And my heart mounted the wings of an eagle, waiting tirelessly for His presence.

This time His knock was unmistakable. It seemed that I had the ears to hear its sweet reverberations. I flew to the door and flung it wide open. Panting still with amazement, I beheld His Glory for only a moment before being enveloped in an embrace of perfection. His Perfect Body covered my weak body, and I melted into His death. I could sense my own death, and there was no longer any barrier. The blood of Christ flowed through my heart, cleansing and renewing. I knew that my weak and sinful flesh was disappearing in the waves of His white robe. I knew that His blood beat in my new heart. I knew that the dividing wall of hostility was ...... gone.

O Glory! Glory.

"21And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: 23If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven;..." Col. 1:21-23a

"6For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." 2 Cor. 4:6