14 September 2010

10 September 2010

What has been termed a joyless summer

Well, you have stuck with me this summer as I wrestled through some difficult experiences and how to best convey them in writing. You have prayed for me and for Jeff. Street, and you have supported me verbally, financially, and otherwise. Thank you.

I find it necessary to continue writing and processing the summer, but I can do that in private. I can do that where I am comfortable, where I can use poor grammar and bad punctuation. Where I can insert some Spanish-English hybrid words that seem to describe that which I want to remember. I said I could process the summer for my own sake. But I am not called to live for my “own sake.” Even in my writing I desire to minister, and right now, I am writing to address an issue that may have concerned a few people—the apparent lack of joy in my updates.
The summer was difficult. Agreed. But it was a summer I would never trade for an easier one—for God grew me. (It is difficult to grow in intimacy with God through ease. Why is it that we often need to be pushed toward God by our circumstances or trials?) And friends, do not find that “difficult” must mean “lacking joy” or even that I was weighed down the entire summer with my sin and the sin around me. This is never what I wish to convey! (Nor is it true)

What you have seen and I have written has been called by some “the sobriety of life.” As W. H. Auden writes,
We can only
do what it seems to us we were made for, look at
this world with a happy eye
but from a sober perspective.

The desire for everything to seem superficially fine, good, and happy seems to be the very thing we fight in conveying the whole of the Gospel. We do not merely say that God is love…precisely because we humans need to know why it is important that God show His love. We need to have a sober perspective, knowing that His justice that destroys sin is fearsome…and that we are neck-deep in sin. Aye, and then the happiness comes. That, despite the sin that permeates our being, we are not destroyed—for God came in human flesh to be destroyed for our sin. (And the grave could not contain Him, for He is life.) What can we say then? That life on earth should not reflect the good news that, though there is death, God has conquered? Sometimes, we just see that death and decay a little more. And because we have been recreated to receive life and light, we actually notice the wretched place from which we come.

In Louisville, I saw more clearly the wretched place from which I come. Why do you think the program in which I participated is called Hope? Because sometimes we get so stuck between light and dark—what we call the grey areas—that we need to be reminded that dark is really dark and light is really light. We need to be able to say once again, “if Christ came into this dark, He can truly conquer any darkness.” Maybe it is because in our hopelessness and weakest state, we are taught to remember that we need Christ. For real need him. None of this license plate Christianity. We remember that we need to drink, eat, and breathe the life Christ demands when He says “follow me.” We need to remember that He provides the power to do so. Sobering? yes. Happy? yes.

I John 5:19-20 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.