Friday, May 21, 2010

Lingering Thoughts

I am constantly amazed by how easy it is to become distracted from looking at Christ as I am commanded in Colossians 3:1-3. It is a constant source of concern for me. Here at the school we end each day, and begin each day with scripture reading, which has the effect of realigning my focus. It has been an invigorating exercise for someone who always struggled with this kind of routine. The only issue I have is with how quickly I change gears from arranging my thoughts according to God’s word to organizing my day, worrying about tomorrow, or just simply wondering off in my mind looking for distraction. This is actually quite disturbing because when I catch myself drifting away it is nearly impossible to draw my thoughts back to where they belong. Disturbing because of the peace I relinquish every time my focus shifts. Disturbing in its obvious hostility towards the desire of Holy Spirit in me. Disturbing in the fact that it is my choice to whom I will submit.
My nature has always been to avoid authority through determined rebellion, and self-destruction, and this has carried through all of the deep work God has done in my life, resurfacing almost daily. While there has been an immense amount of change from who I used to be, the general makeup of who I am remains as a stranger to the mind of Christ. It is that part that will always resist the forward work of Holy Spirit in me as Paul wrote of in Romans 7:23. It may be that this should cause me to rejoice in Christ, esteeming His infinite grace, which enlightens my eyes to even perceive this malady, but I cannot seem to help harboring a quiet despairing within my thoughts. This familiar little creature has been closeted away in my mind for many years. It may also be that this little creature of despair is something that I stubbornly cling to, so that the cycle of reasoned rebellion can be fed.
Despair and rebellion are connected in a parasitic symbiosis from which there is no rational escape, the only way is to ignore it. That is not a typo. This may sound like a descent into heresy and defeat, but the truth is that I cannot keep my eyes trained on this thing while setting my eyes on things above. Every ‘rational’ fiber in me strains against this simple revelation. It just makes no sense. To win I must cease struggling. To win I must admit defeat. To win I must finally concede. To win I must ignore the war and set my eyes on the Victor.
It was a number of years ago that God gave me a vision of a huge, broad valley populated with masses of people who were wandering about aimlessly. The general direction of their meandering was towards the valley’s end where it ascended up into towering mountains. At their feet was rain soaked earth inundated from the dark clouds swirling above. The feet of the people were caked over with thick muck as they slid and slipped about. The primary thing I noticed about these people was that none of them ever looked anywhere but at their feet, and from their lips came only words of defeat, and hopelessness. This is when I heard the voice of the Lord calling for the people to look up, and when I, as one of those people, looked up everything changed. I first saw a brilliant rainbow arcing across the clouded skies that held my gaze from returning to the ground. The sight of the rainbow also made me begin to look about for the source of the sunlight. Turning my eyes from the valley’s end I saw in the sky that the dark clouds ceased their dominion only s short distance away and bright, sunlit sky cut across them like a fiery barrier. It was then that I realized that the rain was actually a blessing from God, and that all I had to do was stop looking down and lift my eyes up. This had the automatic result of turning my head and thus the direction of my travels. This did not remove the mud from my feet, but continued travel towards the light would by degrees accomplish this feat. If I stopped to wash my feet in the rain I would never leave the valley, but rather lift one foot to wash while placing the other into the mire, which meant I would have to lift that one to wash it and place the clean one back in the muck. This would be a pointless, cyclical exercise in momentary glee.
I believe that this struggle will become easier as the years go on, if I continue to make my focus and upward one. If, on the other hand, I continue to either look down at how muddy my feet are, or continue to try to wash my feet clean I will never cross that dark boundary into the dry ground. The mud is simply a gracious reminder of why I need to keep looking the right way.

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