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Sunday, December 9, 2007

Shipwreck

My relationship with God is complicated. Characterized on my part by neglect. Maybe God is waiting. Maybe he's working. I don't know. It's hard to see through the smoke. There was a time when I went to church three times a week. I would have gone more but it wasn't open that much. Bible study. Couldn't get enough. I never mistook it for spirituality. It was just me, looking for truth, for meaning. I did find it. Didn't do much with it. Much that was meaningful, I mean.

Like the parable of the man who sells everything that he might own the pearl of great price. When you have the pearl, what do you do with it? Look at it? Polish it? I own the pearl. I've never figured out what to do with it. What good are pearls? Their good is in their beauty, and the joy that beauty brings. I have very little joy. It must be a small pearl. Or maybe I didn't sell everything I had, to own it. Apparently the pearl gets bigger if the box you keep it in is empty.

I keep my box full of pain, of memories and fear and anger. My heart is broken, and I keep the pieces there. There's blood on my pearl. I want to blame God for that. He didn't protect me. He didn't protect the ones that I loved. He allowed suffering more than I could bear. He must have misjudged me. I only look big. Funny that he could make that mistake. Does he think that we can bear the pain of this world? Did he learn nothing from the suffering of the Cross? Did he get into the habit of forsaking us? Is anguish the only tool he uses to call us to him? Is there any gentleness in his patience? Or is patience just a countdown to wrath.

Worthiness has nothing to do with it. We stake our hope on his promises. He'll love us when we are unlovable. Like me. How my heart yearns for comfort, some comfort other than that false drugged indifference of avoidance and neglect and emotional stupor. Maybe there's something that God doesn't know. We need to be saved more than once.

I am so tired of this world. If there were some way out of it I'd like to know. Other than the obvious, I mean. But everything is death. What, a shipwreck? -- with bodies in the water and survivors clutching onto debris? And the cold and fatigue and thirst and the sharks and despair claim us, one after the other? Because no one gets away alive. The only rescuing we can ever suppose there is would be spiritual. That would be no small thing, since it's all there can be, but it seems only to be a theoretical comfort. Faith floats, and it will keep us warm, and it answers our thirst, I'm told -- but it attracts sharks. And everyone drowns.

I was talking to a friend a few weeks ago. I don't recall how the subject came up -- probably just rose out of my soul's yearning to find light -- but I mentioned that my son would be coming home in not too many weeks. And the realization flooded over me, that life was always only loss, and that everything we love goes away, and that this was the first time that anything was coming back to me. And I wept. Publicly. For just a moment. I don't pretend to be hard. I'm soft.

I know what it all means, and I know why. My great learning has not driven me mad. It's kept me from succumbing to my madness. There's a way that this is a good thing. But it is not pleasing to God. He wants me broken. I don't trust him to hold me together. How can I trust God? He's so hard. I take his forgiveness as granted. I have no quibble with his grace. But his mercy is so implacable. He thinks our suffering teaches us something, and he thinks we'll turn to him when we've had enough. I don't care about God's compassion, the feeling he has and why he does things. How would that be my business? I want a miracle, to be rescued from myself. There are things, though, that we can do and God cannot. I don't believe that anyone gets saved from their body of death. I think that if you're surrounded by a body of death, you die. Tell me where you think I'm wrong, and I'll refer you to the sharks.

I was thinking about how easy it is to love little children, and how unfortunate it is that they become like adults. Apparently innocence past a certain point is just stupidity. Does God look at us, in our depravity, and see us as we see little children? That would be sweet, and a comfort. But a dark realization haunts such an understanding. Not all children are loved. I see myself sometimes as small, and lost, and wretched. What kind of a man is that? I see myself as foolish and useless and as a joke. Poor little me.

If I ask who could love me, well, wouldn't it be arrogant to suppose that I'm not loved? It's just that in such an imperfect world, no matter how bright love starts out, it arrives dim. The world is filled with smoke. There is fire on the water. Something else to regret.

I can't end there, though. My knowledge won't let me, for all the darkness of my heart. Because I know the answer. I wish it would do me some good. Here's the answer. Since we're in the water, we should be pearl divers. We should risk the depths, that something beautiful might be found and brought up. There's light enough to see the beauty. That's what the fire is for, if we dare the flames.

Jesus, Jesus, come get me again. Reach down and pluck me up from the deep. It's been so long since I could breathe, and darkness twists me so I don't know up from down. I'm hard to love, but pity my wretchedness. Your humanity is my only claim on you.


J

9 comments:

Bipsy Quee said...

I know the feeling.

But somehow, reading it being spoken by someone else helps me think that unvarnished honesty is more important to Him than we realize.

We don't get all the answers. What the 7 thunders said He sealed up so we wouldn't know what they said but He let us know they said something nonetheless.

All I know is that, "for such the Father seeks to worship Him", is MY only hope, because that's all I can give. Anything more than that is just religion.

Ms.Green said...

"The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit." Psalm 34:18

I'm not sure exactly what this verse really means. The LORD is nigh. Sometimes when I pray I feel that He is so close that if I were to open my eyes at that moment I would see Him. Which is kind of scary in a way. Other times, I doubt His very existence, because I don't feel His presence in my life.

I'm not sure what the verse means, but I believe it. Because I believe the Bible is God's revelation of Himself to us.

I also know that we can't trust our "feelings". Emotions lie to us. Emotions sometimes lead us in the wrong direction. Emotions can destroy. And yet, what a dull and lifeless world this would be without them.

Jack, I prayed for you today. Not that that would necessarily mean anything to you, but I wanted you to know just the same.

The Lord is nigh. Wherever nigh is.

Jack H said...

Thank you, both.

The alternative to saying these things, is staying silent. God is big enough to weather my storms.

Isn't it odd how we doubt God and trust Jesus? Jesus came down from his throne. How wrong it would be, not to love him for that. And as for the unspeakable Cross, let every tongue be still.

J

brent said...

We are most like God when we suffer. Why is the gate narrow and the way hard? Why didn't He make it easy? I believe God suffered more than Jesus. Certainly, as a father, you would agree. Jesus' suffering is over but God suffers on.

Jack H said...

Jesus' suffering isn't over. But you're right. continually fail to remember that God is the Father, the Good Father. I'm a little conflicted with that image. It's hard to think of someone who dwells in unapproachable light as suffering. But in such a full spectrum, there must be some somber colors. Something I'll have to remind myself to remember.

J

brent said...

Of course you're right. I was reaching for poetic contrast.

I developed the idea more at my place. Funny, I had been meditating on this for about a week. It still does not convey what I'm grasping for.

Blessings.

Will C. said...

Take my hand
You know I'll be there
If you can
I'll cross the sky for your love
For I have promised
Oh, to be with you tonight
And for the time that will come

Take my hand
You know I'll be there
If you can
I'll cross the sky for your love
And I understand
These winds and tides
This change of times
Won't drag you away
Hold on, and hold on tightly
Hold on, and don't let go
Of my love

The storms will pass (the storm will pass)
It won't be long now (it won't be long now)
This love will last
His love will last...forever

Take my hand
You know I'll be there
If you can
I'll cross the sky for your love
Give you what I hold dear

Hold on, hold on tightly
Hold on, hold on tightly
Rise up, rise up
With wings like eagles
You run, you run
You run and not grow weary

(take my hand, take my hand)
Hold on, and hold on tightly
Hold on, hold on tightly
Too this love, lasts forever
Now this love, lasts forever

Take my hand...

Drowning Man - U2

Ms.Green said...

You've really stirred up something here, Jack.

I've written a post, inspired by your post here.

Is it Ok to Ask God Why?

Jack H said...

My word. Just say a few selfish and unfair things about God and look what happens.