Friday, February 28, 2014

Wrong Track

Have you ever had a moment when you’re standing on the middle landing of a two-level stairway, surrounded by double thick, floor-to-ceiling windows separating you from the bitter, wintery world outside, and you wonder if you’ve been doing it right? You peer into the glass at your dim reflection, you reach out to touch it in hopes of it being real, and you ask yourself, “Have I just been wasting my time?”
Maybe that’s just me…
Maybe you’re more the type who has stood in the middle of a vast library, pacing both sides of the table, as you argue back and forth with yourself as to whether or not your chosen path is the correct one. The musty smell of the hundred-year-old tomes did nothing to clear your mind, and the sound of the rebellious throng outside, destroying its way down the avenue toward the building, did nothing to relieve the tension of your thoughts.
No? Well…
Perhaps you’re the type who has found yourself balancing atop the back railing of a runaway, double-decker bus, cane sword at the ready, wondering what you could have done differently to have prevented your situation. It’s the kind of question that would have gnawed at you, even as the congresswoman had continued to creep menacingly over the rows of seats toward your position, forcing a more pressing question into your mind: fight on or jump off?
At this point you’re just being modest.
Anyways, that has been me for the past few weeks. No, I haven’t literally fought a congresswoman on a double-decker bus, or paced around a table in an old library, or even reached out toward my reflection in a window on a stairway landing, but I have mentally come to grips with the fact that I’ve been wrong.
Really, it was not the fact that I was wrong, but the coming to grips with it that seemed to give me trouble. It wasn’t that I wasn’t ready to admit I was wrong. It was more like it just took forever to do so. Like being twenty feet under water and then starting for the surface. You can see the surface, you want the surface, but you aren’t at the surface until you get there. And sometimes that surface you conceive in your mind can feel a light year away.
What I have been wrong about is in regards to the mindset I hold toward my fellow human beings. Again, I find it hard to type this, as if I am fighting watery currents to get every word out. I have known people and I have cared for people, and I have loved people… But I did not pity people and I did it consciously, and I was wrong.
You see, people are more than just earthly shells, more than just basically good or basically evil. People are souls who know both good and evil; who know both laughter and tears. People are either in rebellion against God or in subservience to Him, either hearts twisted by selfishness or pierced open by the Savior.
Let me share with you a quote that I heard near the end of my swim, summing up all that had come before:
“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which,if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations — these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit — immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.” – C. S. Lewis
…We are all of us, immortals. Ever last one. It is just where we will spend eternity that is in question. Will we spend it in Hell, away from God, as our selfish hearts desire? Or will we spend it in Heaven, in the Glory of the one True God, as we were created to do?
When you begin to look at people like this, see them for what they are. Then suddenly everything has changed. The way you smile, what you say… Most of all whether or not you pity.
Because the truth is none of us deserve pity. But we all need it. We are immortals in a mortal world, that we ourselves and our forefathers made that way. We ran from Love and deserved to die. But God in His infinite Love showed us pity, forestalling our judgment to give us another chance.
That chance came as Jesus, God incarnate, who brought His infinite Love into a finite world to draw us away from damnation. He lived a perfect life, died a perfect death, and rose in perfect victory. He embodied this infinite, perfect Love, and if we believe in Him He is with us, bringing us to eternal glory.
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected with us.” – 1 John 4: 11-12
“…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” – Ephesians 3: 17-19
It is this that draws me on through the water; pulls me up as a hook through my heart. We all need pity, whether splendor or horror, we all need love. If Jesus did not hold back, how can I?