Thursday, July 30, 2015

Losing One's Grip

To have a focus for the written word one must have a grasp of what they are trying to say. To facilitate such a focused grasp one must learn to blend a sense of discernment with the ability to grip an idea and not let go.

I imagine it would hurt to fall off a hundred foot cliff to the rocks below. I’ve tumbled head-first down a thirty foot incline that was very cliffesque (somewhere between 78°-80° rather than 90°) that had rocks below it. That fall hurt a lot. I’ve even had a branch of a tree I was climbing snap beneath me, giving me that sickening, surprising-drop sensation that lurches through you when you dream of a fall. But to fall… All that way…
The dread would most likely start as your fingers slipped. That piercing feeling to your very soul as the adrenaline rush kicks in and the hairs all over your body stand at attention. But it doesn’t matter anymore. You’ve lost your grip now. You’re falling.
The adrenaline has only served to make you excessively aware of every single second as they whiz by. There’s nothing to grab hold of, nothing but the wind and open air all around. It jabs and pulls and laughs at you as you fall, fall, fall to your imminent demise. Those rocks below, like colossal, unforgiving truths, stand silent sentry, awaiting your embrace. It is two seconds away now, and there is nothing else to focus on. Nothing else to grasp except your fall, how it happened and why, and how those rocks will destroy you now.
It’s funny, isn’t it, how one’s focus can be wrested away toward something pressing if that pressing thing tries hard enough. Or maybe it’s funny because the reverse is true: Some people’s focus cannot be changed no matter what until it’s too late; until the rocks they hate so much break them, or the waters of that red sea they ignored take them (more precisely they ignored God, but He used the waters to get their attention at last).
This topic of attention, focus, and grip comes to me at a poignant time. Or maybe ironic is a better word… Let’s use both: an ironic and poignant time. The thing is I’ve noticed my attention slipping. I’ve been losing my ability to track multiple conversations at once and even have trouble sometimes with just focusing on two at a time. That’s the ironic bit because I’ve noticed the rest of the world getting worse and worse with their attentions as well; the poignant part.
It’s not just how the world gives it’s attention but what they give their attention to. Right now, the world has gripped onto the story of poor Cecil the Lion’s death. If you somehow haven’t heard, the poor cat was hunted and killed by a dentist. Now, it seems, everyone and their mother wants the poor dentist’s head. All while ignoring other more pressing atrocities that they don’t want to think about.
Before you think I’m going the route of, “This isn’t that important and That is so important and you all should be spending so much more time focusing on That rather than This!” let me just say other, more eloquent people have already said what needed to be said on that front.
What I’m focusing on here is a little simpler than all that. I’m focusing on the fall when one loses one’s grip on the thing they thought they could hold onto, and the pain that comes with crashing and shattering down upon truths one has been trying to ignore. In that moment of the fall, as your world comes apart and your paradigm shatters, you inherit the wind and find the prince of the power of the air a very poor comforter.
Time would fail to tell of all the examples throughout history of people who thought they had a hold of something rock-solid, only to find themselves falling, grasping at air. I think of Pharaoh, Nebuchadezzar, Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, and Nicholas, the last Czar. My mind flies to Oscar Wilde, Samuel Clemens, and Earnest Hemingway. There was Friedrich Nietzsche, John Lennon, Al Capone, Groucho Marx, and George Reeves.
All of these men fell. All of them trusted in something or someone that just did not come through. They paid their attentions to these false saviors in hopes that they could hold them up and keep them from falling. All of these attentions were paid in vain.
As I said before, it hurts to tumble head first down a steep incline with sharp rocks at the bottom. I was running and it was raining. If it had been dry the incident probably would have been avoided. It was a path I’d run a thousand times without falling, without tripping, without a single misstep. The rain changed everything, though.
The feeling of the fall is akin to the feel of betrayal. It’s like, “Why did you give out on me? I trusted you…”
See, it’s all what you focus on, what you trust in, what you grip onto. Today’s world is being trained to focus their attentions on meaningless, unsubstantial ideas, hopes, and dreams. They have temporal goals derived from fleshly minds and lustful hearts. They are taught to borrow from the future, think only of the present, and do what will make them happy. We are, as a culture, being tricked to focus on feelings.
Hardly surprising if you really are a student of history, but let’s focus on that word: Feeling. What are you feeling right now? What makes you feel good? How do you feel about Cecil the lion? How do you feel about a mound of dead baby parts? How do you feel now that I had you read that and perhaps envision something you didn’t like and don’t want to envision?
Thing is, though, life is full of raw deals and raw feelings and things you just can’t avoid. Even if you click away right now it doesn’t change reality, it just changes the part you’re paying attention to; what you’re focusing on.
I know! I know! Just change the channel to something uplifting and kid safe! Something that will never offend or upset, never shatter your dreams about the way the world should be. That will fix everything!
Except you still have that fall… It’s coming for you, you know. It will get you in the end. It gets us all. Sooner or later you’ll be standing at the top of the stairs or in the bathroom, or driving a car, and something will go pop in your head, and the stairs or the tile or the steering wheel will come rushing up to meet you…
Only you won’t see it. You’ll see blackness, rushing up and in and all around. Suddenly you’re falling but in a different way then you ever thought possible because your body isn’t there. You have no anchor to reality, nothing to shield you from those cold, unforgiving, bright truths speeding headlong toward you.
You can’t look away. You can’t click away. You can’t change the channel or even scoff the ideas into quiet nothingness because they’re blinding and overwhelming and roaring and tearing at you. Suddenly you’re exposed, the cheap treacherous wretch that you always were. A horrible being born from horrible beings and there’s nothing you can say or do to change it; Nothing at all because it’s too late. You ignored your chances. You’ve hit those rocks and broken into a thousand pieces and if anyone is crying you don’t know it and it doesn’t matter, you’re gone. For all eternity you are gone.
This is why I love little falls here in life. They keep me focused, keep me grounded, keep bringing me back to Jesus. He is my God and my only hope. He is the rock upon which I stand. I would be in for the same fall at the end if not for Him. But Jesus redeemed me and saved me from what I was. He fell on me and crushed me and saved me from myself.
You see, everyone will come to God in the end. It just depends on how. Will they fall, toppled from the heights of their own vain hubris and tumble on down on top of Him to be shattered and lost for all eternity? Or will they be taken into His arms and brought into His presence to be with Him for all eternity?
Everyone has to choose between the two. The former choice is easier, less painful in the present and you get to be happy for a little while. The later is painful and hard in the present but comes laden with joy that will last past the bounds of time and space as we understand them.
It’s all in what you grip onto, which way you choose. Will you grip tightly onto your own strength, or money or power or something else equally temporal and fatal to the human soul? Or will you give yourself up as nothing and grasp and cling to Jesus the Savior and cornerstone to be saved for all eternity? The choice is yours, my friend.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright.” – Psalm 20: 7-8

Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf. Whoever troubles his own household will inherit the wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise of heart.” – Proverbs 11: 28-29

Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes”? Therefore I tell you the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing fruits. And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.’” – Matthew 21: 42-44

Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors!” – Psalm 73: 17-18

1 comment:

  1. Magnificent! I love the way you grasped that sickening feeling as the end rushes in. Your put it so amazingly well, that I could feel it. It's frightening, but not terrifying to me because I've already died. I recall the moment I fell on the ground and realized that Jesus would be my master sooner or later and begged Him to make the time now.
    I love this passage,"In that moment of the fall, as your world comes apart and your paradigm shatters, you inherit the wind and find the prince of the power of the air a very poor comforter."
    How did you get to be such a superlative writer?