Beloved of and in Christ,
One of the most challenging apsects of the Christian life is staying vulnerable, weak, listening, available, and teachable SO THAT we do not run the risk of self-sufficiency. Those of us who know our wretchedness–covered by Christ yet not completely gone–well enough, know that given one tiny-tiny, itsy-bitsy chance to swerve towards the cliffs of self-sufficiency, we will do it with “Adam’s abandon”, “Did God really say” (Genesis 3)?!
CS Lewis, as he’s astonishingly apt to do, put it very true and well:
“The human spirit will not even begin to try to surrender itself well as long as all seems to be well with it. Now error and sin both have this property, that the deeper they are the less their victim suspects their existence; they are masked evil. Pain is unmasked unmistakable evil; every human being knows that something is wrong when he or she is being hurt and pain is not only immediately recognizable evil, but evil impossible to ignore.
As I am progressing along the path of life in my ordinary contentedly fallen and godless condition, absorbed in merry-making with my friends for the morrow, or a bit of work that tickles my vanity today, a holiday or a book… When suddenly a stab of abdominal pain that threatens serious disease, or a headline in newspapers that threatens us all with destruction, sends this whole pack of cards tumbling down.
At first, I’m overwhelmed, and all my little happiness’s look like broken toys. Then, slowly and reluctantly, bit by a bit, I try to bring myself into the frame of mind that I should be in at all times: I remind myself that all these toys were never intended to possess my heart, that my true good is another world, and my only real treasure is Christ!
But the moment threat is withdrawn, my whole nature leaps back to the toys: I’m even anxious, God forgive me, to banish from my mind of the only thing that has supported me under the threat because it is now associated with the misery of those few days.
Thus, the terrible necessity of tribulation is only too clear!
God has had me only for forty-eight hours – and then only by dint of taking everything else away from me! Let him but sheathe the sword for a moment and I behave like Poppy (the dog) when the hated bath is over: I shake myself dry as I can and race off to reacquire my comfortable to dirtiness, if not in nearest manure heap, at least in the nearest flower bed. And that is why tribulations cannot cease until God either sees us remade, or sees that our remaking is now hopeless.” (CS Lewis, The Problem of Pain)
So what’s the best way to stay truly self-aware and “at risk”, or vulnerable and courageously weak enough, to always need the True Truth, Love of God, and compassion to serve at every moment of the day? Or at least most of the time? There are lots of Biblical examples of how best to achieve this worthy goal, but here’s one of my favorites:
The Stewardship of Our Temptations and Suffering: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).
To Name A Few: 1) Staying available to God and free to serve Him requires putting ourselves at risk and radically repenting when we’ve gone off course–not by an occasional mission trip to some remote and impoverished land, or some guilt-ridden process of remorse–but every day, and repenting in a community of faith. 2) Serving the poor, orphaned, widowed, weeping, marginalized, and abused right in our own circle of influence. 3) Giving of our time, talent, and treasure “until it hurts” (Mother Teresa) means having to sacrificially give, first to the church, and then other charitable entities. 4) “Dying to self”, by killing PRIDE (our right to look down upon others) and CONTROL (our obsession to control every aspects of our life). 5) Bringing an end to our fear of man and slavery to the things of this fast-decaying world. 6) End the whining that our church is not serving our needs, but rather seek how we can serve the church in ways in which we are GIFTED as well as a reflection of a REDEMPTIVE TURN-AROUND of our own personal story.
God richly bless your “TODAY…” (Psalm 96:7-8), JohnDoz