Today, January 27, 2012, would have been my mom’s 78th birthday. And though she would have loved to have seen what I’ve become in the last two years, she would also remind me that everything happens exactly at the time God has for it – not a moment earlier, not a second late. Thanks for the seeds of faith that have bloomed into my own walk. I love you, momma – see you someday!
The disparity: the difference between speaking a blessing over someone one night and getting lost in useless wanderings the next, which can lead to believing that one negates the other or that, because we swing from one extreme to another, we have the word “hypocrite” tattooed on our foreheads.
Were that true, here’s some of the folks that should line up behind the needle, awaiting the artist’s loving and painful touch:
Asa (along with bunches of the kings of Israel)
… and pretty much anybody sitting next to, across from, behind or in the same room with you in church, including (and especially) the person sitting in your chair. And (by their own humble admission) the dude or dudette up front behind the pulpit.
To those who are inclined to believe that religion is a crock, a shelter for the weak-minded or superstitious, the disparity provides a perfect scapegoat for the uncertainty of their own conscience. “If I can’t live the life without being one of those religious hypocrites, then I just won’t live it at all.”
(“Whew – dodged that bullet. Now I can sleep in on Sunday morning…”)
Nice try – but the easy way isn’t the right way. Using that excuse to avoid striving with the war of our fallen natures is simply giving up.
To those who, every time they prove in a most profound manner that we all are just human, spout off that most tired of excuses, “I’m not perfect, just forgiven!”, the disparity provides a Get Out Of Jail Free card with a lifetime of grace expiration date.
Nice try – was the death of God’s Beloved worth you getting to use the grace excuse every time you indulge your lower nature? Or is that all you think He accomplished in His sacrifice?
“Holy cow, Captain – did you wake up on the wrong side of the bunk this morning and set the phasers on ‘extra crispy?’ “
Yeah, and then I pasted a bullseye on my own backside. “Among whom I am chief…”
Speaking of the Apostle Paul, here’s how he put it:
“What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise.” Romans 7:15 (The Message)
Yup, that’s me. And that’s the disparity.
In my first life, Sightblinder could use the disparity to paralyze me. Since both light and dark could and did dwell in me, it must prove that neither has a majority vote. Remember the whole “lukewarm, so I spit you out of my mouth” thing? Yeah, that was thrown up to me (sorry – no pun intended) at every moment. “Obviously, you’re useless for the kingdom since you don’t ever grow, you don’t ever put the darkness behind you and live totally (without exception) in the light!”
And, in my first life, I’d believe it. Hook, line & sinker. And the whole rod. And the fisherman. And the cooler full of worms – the whole shebang.
But in life 2.0, things have changed up a bit. Ok, a lot. Ok, a whole honkin’ lot. And I’ve been realizing that some of the flowers that are blooming in life 2.0 are from seeds planted long, long ago. I’m thinking of some of those who planted, hoping for but never expecting to see a harvest, let alone one that looks like it does today…
– My theology professor, opening the door to how I view most everything in my world with the concept of “Both/And” – for most theological views, there can be a balance where two things that seem to be opposites can dwell, equally without conflict.
Want an example? OK… Jesus – fully God or fully man?
Answer: both/and. Both, equally, without compromise.
So the gentle balance of both/and stabilizes my world in many ways. Interestingly, this seed really bloomed when I began Tai Chi, which, at its core, is totally about balance.
– My counselor, who has gently been speaking truth over me for years, reminding me that we are never meant to live in guilt and shame but in love and grace. Even when we walk in darkness sometimes, we still live in the light.
Just because we pass through the valley, we don’t move into a condo there and put out a change of address form. The enemy can assail our minds but can’t overthrow our hearts.
My heart belongs to God alone.
– My beloved, whose clear vision of who I really am inside shone through the layers of weight, depression, unbalance and insecurity, allowing me to see who I really am in her eyes. And no, she’s not perfect.
(I pause to allow those of you who know my beloved to recoil in shock… Breathe deeply. Use a paper bag if you have to.)
But she never allows darkness to define her reality – she lives in the light.
(Yes, dearheart, I really was listening all those years. I’m glad that you’re finally seeing the harvest of what you’ve sown for so long.)
– My Father, who knew before I was born that these days would come. He knew every moment that would lead up to this, through all the lonely roads and confused paths. He put everything in place so that someday I could come out the other side shining like gold, blazing with light.
As for the disparity…
– Both/And shows me that both darkness and light are in me. But even though they both dwell there, I don’t live in the darkness – I live in the light. Falling doesn’t make me a resident of the concrete… I get up, I dust myself off and I get on with the step by step adventure of living as a follower of the Christ.
– I don’t live in regret and guilt because those things aren’t who I am in Jesus. Sightblinder can confuse and oppress my mind but he can never have my heart. At the end of the day, He who has my heart wins. Every time.
– I am slowly and gently becoming what my beloved has seen all along. Every day I’m a little closer to what she sees with her clear gaze and further away from the things that concealed me. If I have a day when EvilCal seems to be back in control, I need to remember that it’s just a game of mental hide and seek – I’m still here, and can easily be found, if I just look around a bit. The important thing is to look.
And the path goes on – I’m not there yet, nowhere near. So there will be bumps and trips and falls. There will be dark passes, times of blazing sunshine, and times of absolute flat roads where it seems like I’m not even moving – miles and miles of absolutely nothing.
But it’s never about what I can see.
My eyes are easily fooled, my senses are easily overrun and my fallen nature is oh-too-quick to take over. No, the One who puts the path before me can see all of it, perfectly. He knows where I will stumble, He knows right where I’m going to do a face plant and, though His Daddy’s heart winces when I scrape my knee or get a lovely case of road rash on my cheek, my Father knows what lies far beyond what I can see.
And it’s gonna be amazing.
No disparity – just a fallen creature in need of redemption, a recipient of grace who is learning to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with His God. I am a complex, wondrous creature, bearing the image of He who made me, astonished by wonder, frustrated by my own shortcomings, and deeply grateful for unconditional grace. I stumble and stub my toes in the darkness but I live and walk in the light.
And someday the darkness will end, the light will blaze, and “ever after” becomes “now.”
Like I said – it’s gonna be amazing.