Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Beset By Deep Waters

Recent events have me feeling overwhelmed. But not necessarily in a bad way. Though sometimes in a bad way. I feel like I am staring over a vast ocean of time and space, all of which is both at my fingertips and at the same time far beyond any control or influence.

On the one hand, two people close to me have died recently at young ages. It makes me think of all the death I've been around in my life. Three people I have known in my life have been murdered. Many more have died way before their time. The death particularly of the little child of my friend Israel is almost too much to comprehend.

At the same time, in my career, things have never been better. People are coming up to me and inquiring as to how they can get deeper in their relationship with Jesus Christ. We have one of the biggest confirmation groups we've ever had, and the youth and young adult ministries are growing. I've received a promotion, and my work at Galloway School is being recognized in various ways. I am surrounded by people I love and engaging in physical activities that are both creative and exciting. My upcoming book is coming along nicely and I'm getting some good feedback concerning it.

Yet even as I enjoy my job and am happy about the growth in my ministry, sometimes I feel like there is just so much to do. Every new opportunity opens up new avenues of time and work that will be required of me. I lean on God and that brings me contentment and peace within the storm, but I am still just one man. Even Moses had to delegate his duties, at the command of God. Yet I am in a weird place. To become the kind of community that has the human resources to relieve my pressure, we have to still reach a new level in qualitative and quantitative growth. Once we reach those levels, I can really develop the volunteer and maybe even part time paid work force to delegate my duties. Yet to get to that point, I have to push a bit harder and that means more work and more time spent in the short run. It all feels so magical, and so hard, and so wonderful, all at the same time.

There are great and terrible things on the world stage as well. I step back from life, from the world, and I am beset by deep waters, both wonderful and terrible. My visions and dreams are taking a similar track: heaven and hell, demons and angels, visions both divine and diabolical. It is almost maddening. Life is wonderful, it is amazing, I am happy, and I am filled with the Holy Spirit. Yet life is terrible, with demons everywhere, and so many are oppressed by sin and death I can hardly stand it. I am living all of this, all at once, all at the same time.

I will end with a quote by Reinhold Niebuhr that serves me well at times like this, it is a reflection on 1 Corinthians 1:26-29:

'The wise may not be chosen, not only because they are not wise enough but because they are too wise. Wisdom may overreach itself. Wisdom, like power, tempts men to pride. Sometimes the wise identify truth with rational consistency and seek to measure the paradoxes of life and reality by the canons of human logic. The wise are too wise to see that the world is both "God’s world" and (to use a slang phrase) "a hell of a world." Hence the wise tend to be either optimists or pessimists. The mixture of gratitude and contrition which characterises the simple religious heart outrages their sense of consistency. Yet the world is both good and evil and the proper attitude toward it is one of both gratitude for the mercies of God revealed in it and contrition for the evils which human sin has created in it. Whether they are appraising the world or seeking to understand man's place in the cosmos, or estimating the curious mixture of good and evil in the human heart, the wise men usually resolve the paradoxes of religion and arrive at a simpler and more consistent truth which has the misfortune of being untrue to the facts of human existence. The wise either ascribe a significance and dignity to man which denies his creatureliness and finiteness; or they think man insignificant because he is dwarfed by the vastness of the interstellar spaces. They do not understand the truth of the Christian religion which Pascal expressed in the words: "The essence of the Christian religion consists in the mystery of a redeemer who, uniting in himself the two natures, human and divine, has withdrawn men from the corruption of sin to reconcile them to God in His divine person. This teaches us two great truths together, that there is in man a capacity to be like God and at the same time a corruption in his nature which renders him unworthy of God. It is equally important to know both of these truths. — One knowledge produces the pride of the philosopher who knows God but does not know his own misery, the other produces the despair of the atheist who knows his own misery but knows no redeemer."'

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