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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.


I want to say something here... and I keep starting, and backspacing.

About being a 'truth person'--is it like the thing where someone asks you a question and you know it would be so much more tactful to skim it over by shading the truth, but even a half-truth sticks in your throat?
I'm not sure how to phrase it, either. Part of it is that I tend to peel back layers of what's really going on, and I'm not as careful with that as perhaps I ought to be.

I want to talk about how aggravating it is when people cling to illusions, but I'm afraid of implicating myself.

I do know, though, that I prefer to hear the truth, even if it hurts. Because at least then I'm dealing with reality. I can cope and heal as long as I know the truth of a situation. For instance, I feel like all of my issues with my MIL would disappear if I felt like she was ever really honest with me. I wish she'd tell me what I bitch I am to her.
"Where are we to go, Lord? You have the Words of Life."
It's like God whispers (or shouts) through you to me. I like the Truth in you even if sometimes it makes us like magnets that are facing the wrong way.

And I think Joe is going through a similar situation with a dear friend. I should steer him to this entry.

Thank you.

Your writing means so much to me, just because it's honest. I know you don't know me and may not even care who I am, but I feel like a 'blessed bystander' just to be able to stumble across your words week to week, day to day.

Why? Because of the honesty. Because He's your everything. Because you remind me that life lived with one shred of anything held back from Him, is not life, and is not worth living.

And most of all, because I know it's not you, with all your unbeknownst idiosyncracies and issues (for we all have them); it is the Him in you, working through your perfect palate, that allows such breathtaking brushstrokes to illume the page with colors that, quite honestly, often cut to the quick.

I'm afraid that none of that made sense, but I don't care. I needed to say it. And again ... thanks.