Friday, February 19, 2016

Growth?

During our weekly devotion time, we sing a few songs before we start.  Last Friday as I sat down with the music (most of which that Valerie had from her playing days at ICCC, some of which are now considered the classics) I had a flashback to my first short term group experiences.

This is where I would get all sappy and spiritual...if I were a good missionary.  But me being me...I am reminded of the excellent guitar player that was in our teams, and the leading of songs after supper, for devotion time...before we were allowed to play Rook until the wee hours.  How I disliked those times.  His playing was great, the singing was fine for group sings...but my heart was not in it whatsoever.  I even escaped to the bedroom a few times as I recall so much I found the experience so unsatisfying.

Now I enjoy playing, and play at Church once a month or so as well as helping lead the Friday times.  Maybe playing is more enjoyable and the songs more familiar now, and maybe with a bit more practice...could I have actually grown or matured just a little bit?

The idea of maturity or growth, that I am somehow improved at all from the depravity I once was, is hard for me to believe or remember, and has been tugging at me quite a bit lately.

My sin and old man follow me longer and darker than my shadow.  I was reminded today through some thoughtful conversation that I am not alone in this warped way of thinking (is it not interesting to see time and again how comforting it is to just know you are not alone?...to have someone share their struggle and not have to judge or try to have an answer, but just commiserate?)

Being humble is good, giving glory to God in all things is good.  But instead of focusing on the long dark shadow and how we literally always fall short...how about looking to the shining light in front of us, or where our feet are now?  Perfection is always in front of us and not attainable, but where we strive to move forward.

Nothing we do can satisfy, nothing we do or did makes us any more worthy, and our failures and shortcomings only solidify our place in this world as fallen, but with hope from He who shines the light of truth into and onto our miserable lives with love, mercy and grace.

I can know that...I can feel that...but not all the time at the same time.  

I cannot hold a candle to what I see on social media...or probably what people think I am from my rosy social media profile as well.  (partially why I have been greatly removed from some of that lately)

Nor can I compare gifts, abilities, or just differences to what I do and smack my head for being like other people.  Valerie parks the Land Cruiser front first...and then has to back out blind.  Too dangerous for my blood.  How does she do it?

Can I not just try to do what I am supposed to do, instead of worrying about comparisons, or living up to an ideal or model to which I am not perhaps called?

Like Job answering God in Job 42...answers are often few, reasons are not always understood, and the complexities of living well, living right, living in love, are so much more than platitudes as to seemingly exasperate sometimes in living in the gray areas of their limits.

Valerie's devotion for us this morning was from I Corinthians 13 (and to further incriminate myself and unburden a bit of my shadow with the purpose of self exhortation...it was the first time I read from the Bible this week) and it turned what I always heard as the wedding chapter on its ear as a way we are called to live, this is not a sappy portion of scripture to simply smile and recite.

The version I have in Spanish says among other things that love is suffering, it is benign (merciful)...that love does not delight in injustice but recreates in truth.  Love suffers all, believes all, waits for all, and puts up with everything.

In short...love is not easy, and living it should be expected to be so.  It brings great joy, but also great testing and strife.   Accepting that, living that...requires growth.  And what is frightening sometimes is that true growth often hurts.  And according to Paul, while love is the greatest among faith and hope...that means sometimes love hurts (although hopefully not exactly in the context the famous song describes.)  What is even scarier than that though is the alternative that true love encounters...and how easily attractive, deceptive and destructive ultimately that can be.  


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