fireworks of God
lives not grounded, nor yet burst
we run, expectant
Archive for September, 2010
fireworks of God
We want broken things
Christ turns our faces to his
Grace lavishes us
How do I trust God?
This is a question out, not a question fielded.
How do I know I have done it?
How do I know I have held fast to what I have believed?
Will there be a finish line?
Will the haze lift to show
that this was nothing more than moguls
and I am on a downhill slope?
faster and faster
let the snow burn my skin
as I tear down the hill
the adrenaline blinding me
because I must come out one side
if I went in another
I already know I don’t end here
I already know that there are things that last
and with the snow in my eyes and my heart in my throat
I try to imagine a punch line to this joke
But mostly I come back to what I just wrote
How do I trust God?
I suppose I keep going.
Someday we will be ourselves without fear
and perfectly knowing
rejoicing in the Lord our God
There will be no discomfort.
Just the grace of God, sustaining us forever.
There are some who dance
and some who don’t
and I see just one reason why you wouldn’t or you would.
There are some who know
and some who don’t
that the Gospel came to give us life, not lock us in a cage.
And some will go,
while many want,
to be alive together in the view of those who won’t.
And some will scoff,
while others shrug,
but we will be alive and show the world just what that means.
Spiders are the only things that make me jump, and they are the least of my worries when it comes to fear. I’ll take a spider any day over an underlying fear that affects how I act. Alas, my fears mostly manifest as hidden motivators of what would otherwise be normal activities, and not as arachnids.
One such subterranean fear was jarred loose recently. I have a tendency to err on the side of people pleasing. I’ve never particularly thought about why, other than I like to be a good guy and the Gospel compels me to do so. These are good enough reasons for the casual observer, and until recently they were good enough for me.
But after a conversation with a friend, I realized that I try to please people because I am afraid that if I displease them they will leave. This fear is so deeply set that I almost didn’t write this post: ”If I tell people I’m afraid of people leaving, they’ll see how weak and needy I am and then really want to leave!”
This is foolish. This is not how friends work, among other ways that the thought pattern is deceitful. Still, it is a hard fear to shake, especially when I can mask it by being really accommodating and helpful. No one’s going to complain that I’m just being too helpful around the apartment.
This is not to say that I don’t have any good motivations for doing the things I do. I love my friends and want to do good things for them. But deep down, every good thing I do makes me feel a little safer in the knowledge that now they can’t possibly abandon me.
This is legalism. This is earned favor. This is a transaction. This is ungrace.
Put another way, I have a fear that no one will give me any grace. If I don’t perfectly succeed at the wholly impossible feat of pleasing everyone, I will get exactly what I deserve and be left out in the cold (or so says the terrible whisper).
“Remember,” yon awful voice says. “People are bad. Man is sinful. God is just. There is no grace for you.”
And that is why I get afraid even when I see a possibility of displeasing someone. I have convinced myself that there will not be grace for that; the offended party will see me as I really am and desert. There will be no grace. I am doomed.
This fear of ungrace often extends to God.
But there is grace for me. Grace is the very message of the Gospel, spoken to us by Jesus: “You deserved death, but I came to give you what you do not deserve. Your sin greatly displeased me, but I love you so much that I came down to forgive it. Nothing you can do will stop this grace. No amount of displeasure you cause me can ever change that I love you more than that (and I proved it, by coming down there and dying for you).”
Really? Grace? That much grace? Honestly? Truly?
Yes. That much grace. And more. So much more.
It is not easy to remove a fear. Pointing at the fear is only the first step. Knowing your enemy does not mean you have defeated him; it means you know whom you have to fight.
And sometimes people will deal with me ungracefully, which is sad. Many will not deal ungracefully. But Jesus will deal gracefully no matter what, and I can rest in that. May the confidence I have in Christ erase my fears in people! For I want to remain gracious, even if I see and feel ungrace in the world. By the grace of God, fear will not dominate.
There is much prayer to be prayed, and many flareups to quash in the name of Christ. But the Gospel contains fearlessness, because perfect love casts out fear. And the Gospel is perfect love, manifesting itself in perfect grace.
I often forget that God answers prayers.
I think he likes that I have a bad memory.
It makes all the more glorious when he answers my prayers in ways I couldn’t expect.
Consider my pride riddled with arrows.
Didn’t even have to wait the full twenty-four hours for that one.
And my dependence on Christ grows.
I want to tape my pride to a target and riddle it full of arrows. It is a bloated megalomaniac, enticed and swayed by every adulteress that whispers in its ear. And as my pride goes, there go I; dragged hither and yon by the slings and arrows of outrageous indiscipline.
Which is why I’d love to reverse the tables and shoot it full of arrows.
It doesn’t make sense to be run by my pride. Pride only results in devastation and disappointment when I prove to myself once again that I am not as strong as I fancy myself.
It further doesn’t make sense to be run by pride when the alternative is so much better. Jesus Christ offers his peace, wisdom and aid to those who will just fall at his feet and admit they can’t do it. All we have to do is admit the truth: we are not perfect, and there is one who is. For that, the one who is will help us.
No strings attached. No performance targets or quotas. Simple admission. And the infinite power that formed the Universe through sheer force of will and sound of voice will guide and help you. (Why would we not change our actions out of gratitude to follow that being that has saved us? but that is for another day.)
Why would we not ask for that? Is fumbling around in our own “power” preferable to having the infinite power of the universe with us? Is pride really so powerful as to convince us that our meager sense of accomplishment from doing something “all on our own” is better? Is the control, power and selfishness of “I” more satisfying than the humble, beloved, known “we”?
It won’t be after we riddle it with arrows.
The first few layers are almost clear,
unnoticeable to all but the best trained eye.
As the layers pile up, things get dimmer,
but this happens at a glacial rate.
“It was always that dim,” they say.
“His heart was always cold.”
Their barbs remind of the warmth of heart
and I work ever harder, spinning
to convince myself of what they said
my heart was always this way.
but I can never believe it.
By the time I realize I can’t escape myself,
I can’t escape my fortress either.
No one knows I’m here,
but I finally see that I am here.
Until He starts peeling away the thick layers
inviting me now to come into his pastures
and I am afraid, for I do not deserve this
he says he knows, for he is the great servant
who gave what we could not have, turned himself in
and now seeks me out, pull me out from within
my trappings fall outward, I see light through dust
now I must step toward Him, through fear, but in trust.
So sudden, I found in myself
some odd theology.
The sooner I see how I fail,
the quicker you rest me.