April 15th, 2005

Victrola

Fool's errands

It's early and I'm already back on Capitol Hill, trying to hunt down and/or remember where I put a set of keys I'll need Sunday. It's one of the classic cases when I remember doing something specific with them for exactly this reason, but I'm at a loss as to what that something was. I did, however, figure the trip would give me a chance to have an old-fashioned morning at Victrola, so here I am. Irwin's can wait until tomorrow.

Update: Keys are now in my possession.



Those who hope in Christ can no longer put up with reality as it is.

—Jürgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope


We often speaking from places of pain, regardless of how impassioned or dispassionate the voices we adopt may be. We are each masters of rationalization—it's a necessary skill for navigating our world, but also serves as an excellent defense against what threatens our sensibilities and comfort. So we have millions of debates about thousands of issues, and very little of it is what we're really talking about at all.

That gets on my nerves, because it so often reeks of bullshit in my nostrils. On my worst days, I respond to it with anger. On better days, I filter as best I can, choosing to ignore some of those voices and letting them rant on to their hearts' (dis)content. And on my best days (which have been shamefully few), I listen for the pain.

I want God to cultivate a heart in me that's both honest about my pain and listens for others', a heart that doesn't stop there but actually brings those needs before the Father, then responds with the leading and power of the Spirit. Part of that will mean recognizing that it's not my place to take on or respond to everything I can see—God is infinite; I am not. He can be trusted with my life and the lives of others. The other part will mean recognizing that things are not supposed to be this way, not settling for a good wallow as if it were the same thing as redemption and healing.

A friend recently visited a seminary to investigate the possibility of furthering her education there. When she asked where the student body worshipped, the staffer replied, "Our students have hurts. Most of them aren't a part of any church." She walked away deeply concerned, and rightly so. That response indicates an underlying belief that pain is sovereign, not God. Comfort in such a world, even when it is plentiful, is also temporal, and the hunger for it will never be satisfied.

Christ came to heal and redeem, and while we who believe must accept that much of this will not be realized on this side of the resurrection, we are also called to believe that He is active here and now. And He's not active in some abstract, ethereal, and individual sense—He is at work in and through His body, the Church. The God of the Bible has always simultaneously worked for and through a community, a people of His choosing. He still does. They are as flawed and in need of grace as ever, but His Spirit abides with them.

Can He be trusted? Or will we trust our pain instead?
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