Friday, October 21, 2011
We Happy Few
Once more, lend a mythic eye to your situation. Let your heart ponder this:
You awake to find yourself in the middle of a great and terrible war. It is, in fact, our most desperate hour. Your King and dearest Friend calls you forth. Awake, come fully alive, your good heart set free and blazing for him and for those yet to be rescued. You have a glory that is needed. You are given a quest, a mission that will take you deep into the heart of the kingdom of darkness, to break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron so that your people might be set free from their bleak prisons. He asks that you heal them. Of course, you will face many dangers; you will be hunted.
Would you try and do this alone?
Something stronger than Fate has chosen you. Evil will hunt you. And so a Fellowship must protect you.
Honestly, though he is a very brave and true Hobbit, Frodo hasn’t a chance without Sam, Merry, Pippin, Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli. He will need his friends. And you will need yours. You must cling to those you have, you must search wide and far for those you do not yet have. You must not go alone. From the beginning, right there in Eden, the Enemy’s strategy has relied upon a simple aim: Divide, and conquer. Get them isolated, and take them out.
You see this sort of thing at the center of every great story. Dorothy takes her journey with the Scarecrow, the Tinman, the Lion, and of course, Toto. Maximus rallies his little band and triumphs over the greatest empire on earth. When Captain John Miller is sent deep behind enemy lines to save Private Ryan, he goes in with a squad of men. And, of course, Jesus had the Twelve. This is written so deeply on our hearts: You must not go alone. The Scriptures are full of such warnings, but until we see our desperate situation, we hear it as an optional religious assembly for an hour on Sunday mornings.
Imagine you are surrounded by a small company of friends who know you well (characters, to be sure, but they love you, and you have come to love them). They understand that we are all at war, know that the purposes of God are to bring a man or woman fully alive, and are living by sheer necessity and joy in the Four Streams. They fight for you, and you for them. Imagine you could have a little fellowship of the heart. Would you want it, if it were available?
That is our destiny.
(Waking The Dead , 186, 187 )
Who makes up your “fellowship”, the small group that lives with you this way?
Mine is small, and has become smaller. Well, I had two, now I have only one. But that’s as it should be, I think. It fits right in line with my “less is more mentality” of the last several years. I still have a ways to go here in the “less” department, but it’s quickly approaching the right balance. In many ways, less IS more.
“Would you want it, if it were available?” Are you kidding? He is kidding, right?
No, he’s not. Maybe it is the first question on the journey. It sounds a bit like Jesus asking the man by the pool of Bethesda if he wanted to be healed. I always knew that it was a loaded question, and that while it sounded simple, he was asking a whole lot more. “Are you ready to have your life changed? Can you give me the thing that hurts you, but which has become familiar to you? Will you get up and follow me, instead of going back and laying down in that familiar place?”
So asking me “Would you want it, if it were available?” is not an unfair question. I know it’s the only way to take hold of the Life offered to us. But the temptation is walk too cautiously, retreat to what is comfortable, to lay back down in that familiar place. But that’s like eating a stale piece of bread. One bite and I want to spit it out, and then I can barely scrape the taste off my tongue fast enough.
I’m not sure what you call this. Divine Dissatisfaction? Whatever “it” is, it keeps you looking for the promise, wanting and expecting more, moving. Still, I hope to make peace between the hunger and the promise.
Looking at what I just wrote, you’d think I was a perfectionist, hard to please. I’m not. I can look past my imperfections, and yours. I want, and need, to. Jesus said we’d be forgiven as we have forgiven others.
I guess the hardest part of living this way is being “present”, and consistent. I’ve laughingly said it’d be easier if honesty, transparency regarding your true self, could be handled like at an AA meeting;
“Hi, my name is Rufus, and I’ve kicked a dog, shot the bird and yelled back at rude drivers (wouldn’t that make me one?), am divorced, and have done or thought enough terrible things in my life that if you knew you wouldn’t like me, and would know I don’t deserve love or forgiveness.” That’s our real fear, isn’t it?
If it would help I could made a list before the next gathering ;-). Wouldn’t that be dangerously wild, showing my true face? Yeah, probably so, I know it would be exciting! But the folks there would probably nod their heads, perhaps shed a few tears of recognition, and softly smile.
Somehow, I think they already know me. And they care deeply, but not in an excessive way. They understand, have been there.
And they love me, but not because of me. Now that looks strange in print, but it’s a relief.
I think that’s called grace, mercy, and forgiveness. It’s medicine for spirit and soul, to be sure.
It’s a hard, messy road, gang. And we may sound and act a little weird sometimes. But I’m really glad it’s available, because it is the only real game in town. Hopefully there will be good company along the way at some point.
But if you ever want to compare lists, we can go get a cup of coffee. It’s good sometimes to sit down, unroll “it”, and let everyone see where you’ve been. To confess our sins to one another, to allow God to speak through someone else about what you may have misunderstood, and to hear healing words of restoration.
So it’s a very good first question… “Would you want it, if it were available?”