March 28th, 2004


Sunday funk

Sundays are a mixed bag for me; part of living in a fallen world. Probably more about whether I receive God's blessing with gratitude than anything else. I get to worship God with a church I love—singing to Him with beautiful music, confessing and receiving His grace, reading His word, praying to Him, hearing the gospel preached with honesty and power, partaking of the sacrament of communion, being sent back into the world to bear witness to His truth and love. Moreover, these activities are also part of the job with which I've been blessed. Even though it can be busy and occasionally hectic, I have the privilege and honor of serving there, and even of being paid to do so. I experienced all of these things fully and richly today.

Yet I can also get into a unique funk on Sundays. Being "on" the whole time, responding to a steady stream of questions and concerns, and working until I'm tired may all contribute to it. The enemy's strategies and attacks likely have a special Sunday flavor. Whatever the case, I find part of myself harshly critical in my Sunday mood, of others and especially of myself.

Nothing's coming out right lately. My life is good, but I have the sense (or the fear) that I'm missing something that everyone else has figured out. There are ways I don't feel cut out for normal life, and it's little wonder I'm as alone as I feel sometimes. I feel disconnected from all of my friends, feel a distance that I cannot cross and can only fumble with. I'd like to not be so sensitive to these things sometimes, to not pick up on the discomfort and the feelings behind the words and the quiet—to be ignorant, oblivious. But I know when I'm connecting, and I know when I'm not.

OK, now I feel like crap. There are times when writing helps, but this isn't one of them.
  • Current Music
    Lambchop, "Steve McQueen"

The present circumstance

Months ago, while rummaging through old things and memories, I came across a simple index card, given to me by my best friend Christopher in a time of trial. On it he wrote the following quote from an unknown author:
The present circumstance which presses so hard against you, if surrendered to Jesus, is the best shaped too in the Master's hand to chisel you for eternity. Trust Him then, do not push away the instrument, lest you spoil the work
Our lives have changed since then. He is not the man I know anymore. He has left his faith and his wife; he has forgotten both his first and second love. Or perhaps they were always second and third, or lower still. Regardless, our friendship is dead because I have nothing to offer him save Christ, and that's the very Person he's running from.

There are times I know it would be easier if I had God in a comfortable box, one I could place as prominently as I like, but one that would fit in and complement my orderly, well-constructed life. I could use the Bible as a checklist and develop an effective program for living, my priorities neatly listed with Him in the number one slot. Or I could have a rich and full life by cultural standards—success and approval and respect plus the wife, 2.5 kids, and SUV (which we would use for our adventurous, well-rounded recreational pursuits), and God could be the very important spiritual component of my overall "wellness."

But He's so damn jealous with me. He won't settle, even in the times I think I'd like Him to. He pushes things aside whether I want to hold onto them or not. He invades my life in big and small ways, and even when He is quiet and still He is ever relentless. He overwhelms me, either by His presence or by His silence. And He wired me in a way where I can't escape Him, some kind of intrinsic double-bind.

A friend this week referred to me as a "truth person" and it clicked. Not that I'm never false, or incapable of lying; far from it. But when it all comes down, when I know the truth I'm stuck with it. I can't run very far, much like the poor hound dog Foghorn Leghorn torments to the end of his leash. And I suck at letting the truth lie (convenient juxtaposition and pun) with others. I call bullshit quickly, whether in words or simply in my presence. It's disruptive and sometimes I wish I could stop, because no one wants that presence close to them. Being pushed away is part and parcel of all my close relationships and always has been. I'm tired of it, but there's little I can do.

I write this because I need to. I keep Christopher's note card near a lamp in my bedroom, where I can see it again and again as I pass. Even if our friendship is no longer true, his encouragement still is. I can be angry with God about the circumstances and themes, about watching people slip away from me again and again, but where am I to go but to Him? I have nowhere else. Sometimes I resent who He's made me, but He's also made me incapable of being anyone else. When I look at Him long enough, the blessings reappear and outshine the losses (the reverse happens when I look at myself long enough).

Because He's true. That makes this worth it, and everything else worth nothing at all.
  • Current Music
    Sibelius, Symphony No.2 in D, Op.43