One Year Ago or This S*** Sucks

One year ago I had this to say, “I’m looking forward to this Christmas as well as the new year. I’m content and hopeful and encouraged and ready to see what will happen this next year.” If I had known then what I know now I’d have probably hidden out under a rock to let the year pass by and come out again like Rip Van Winkle. I can’t remember a worst year in the entire Book of Eli. My failures have spanned all disciplines; girls, house, cars, work, girls. It has just kept on coming. The discouragement has been overwhelming at times and at the end of the day I’m not sure if I’m stronger in my faith or just weaker as a person.

Francis Schaeffer wrote,

The Christian life is not an unbroken, inclined plane. Sometimes it is up, and sometimes -we must all acknowledge if we are not deluding ourselves – it is down. While it is not possible to be more or less justified, it is possible to be more or less sanctified. Justification deals with the guilt of sin; sanctification deals with the power of sin in the Christian life, and there are degrees in this.

This is somewhat of an encouragement to know that my justification has not been undone even though the discouragement has definitely resulted in a decrease in sanctification of myself and life. There have been times this year of great satisfaction and contentment; earlier this summer, I can’t remember if it was before the disappointing appraisal or after, I picked up bike riding again and I can remember sitting on my stoop after a particularly long ride taking in the summer air with a cool gatorade. I’m fairly certain I even audibly voiced my contentment with life even if it meant staying indefinitely at chateau de Woodgate(my crappy cheap apartment). These simple moments are what are stolen so easily; whether by distraction or deception Satan has drawn my eyes and heart away and the contentment disappears.

Schaeffer goes on to say, ‘When I lack proper contentment, either I have forgotten that God is God or have ceased to be submissive to him.’ Ouch I didn’t need that conviction too. Where has my contentment fled and what’s in the way of my submission? Trust? Have I trust enough to be led in a ways that I would not choose? Is what I fear about the future robbing me of the present? The very real possibility of never finding a wife, never building a house, never racing a rally car, no thing for which I had hoped. I stare at these prospects somewhat paralyzed. I’m the first to rejoice at the blessing of others and I would say the last to covet what another has, but the root of this sounds an awful lot like coveting.

Schaeffer…again,

Does this mean that any desire is coveting and therefore sinful? The Bible makes plain that this is not so – all desire is not sin. So then the question arises, when does proper desire become coveting? I think we can put the answer down simply: desire becomes sin when it fails to include love of God or men. Further I think there are two practical tests as to when we are coveting against God or men; first I am to love God enough to be contented; second, I am to love men(mankind) enough not to envy.

So I’ve got that second part, but I think somewhere along the way I skipped over the first. I am missing part of the equation and probably the most important part, emphasized here by guess who. ‘”The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.” The order is in three steps: rejected, slain, raised. “And he said unto them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” The order – rejected, slain, raised is modeled for us in Christs substitutionary death and is the order of true spirituality.’ Again, ouch. When the heck was it that I thought this cross and denying of self would include indulging oneself in whatsoever satisfaction one can garner out of this life and his surroundings?

As Christ’s rejection and death are the first steps in the order of redemption, so our rejection and death to things and self are the first steps in the order of true and growing spirituality. As there could be no next step in the order of Christ’s redemption until the step of death was taken, so in the Christian there can be no further step until these first two steps are faced – no in theory only, but at least in some practical practices. Rejected, slain.

Holy hammhocks why do people have to be so difficult

Things are rarely as straight forward as we’d like them to be. I believe in absolutes, black and whites when it comes to matters of right and wrong, fundamental beliefs of faith and personal world views. But try as I may and as much as I want a single statement or a rigid response that I can use to apply to these disparate situations I encounter each day I’m left with none that cover every situation, that I can use applied in the same manner over and over again. There is no formula. Even with the same person at times they require one response and other times another. Love is the target and end goal, but even it is not as simple as we’ve made it sound and defined it in our culture. As a co-worker put it, “love is not always doing what the other person wants.” For that matter love is not always doing what we want. And yet here we are searching, looking for a formula, for a way to navigate the sirens calls and the jagged rocks, but not finding any. Because there’s not a simple answer. It’s simple enough to understand, but difficult in application. Though we may not like it, it is the best way. To go through a desert in order to reach the promised land. If you go the quick way into the promised land will you appreciate it? Will you be capable of upkeeping it? Are you a wiser person for doing so?

Applying truth through paradox, being in a place where you are able to hear the Holy Spirit, practicing love in its full capacity and not just the warm and cuddly version we have, listening and seeking out Godly counsel. It takes not just one, but all of these along with constant re-examination of oneself. Always striving, always applying instruction, never ceasing in zealousness, perseverance no matter how much simpler it is to take the easy way out. In short accept responsibility, lead courageously, resist passivity and expect the greater reward.

– Give instruction to a wise man and he will be yet wiser; teach a righteous man and he will increase in learning.
– not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought, but to rate his ability with sober judgment.
– Faithful are the wounds of a friend.
– Hear counsel, receive instruction, and accept correction, that you may be wise in the time to come.