I suspect at times my family and long time friends may wonder at my edginess, given the tight box of theology in which I was raised. Walking that edge has its moments!
Last night seemed just such a moment, one quite dark, along with a lostness not felt in decades. The thoughts were likely precipitated by a read that was just too revealing of what my life could have been but for God! For several years, alcohol consumption was a means of escape, and this fictional read centered around the devastating effects upon one in denial of dependency.
It was well written for the author's objective, but gave me a fresh taste of a hopelessness which I had not felt for decades. Thank God all that had long since been removed from my thoughts. Talk about being delivered, this boy truly was!
Then I woke up to the reality of what my discipline in scripture has meant to me over the last 50 years. I opened the Book of Books and there was Isaiah 49:1-2 KJV:
"Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name. And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me;"
Given the distractions of the last few days, trips back and forth to our Mountain home, my frequent stops and starts for writing as I read, like I am doing at this moment, then throw in unexpected interruptions from my commercial real estate associates, scheduled zoom calls, etc. Well, the probability of that text at this time seems unlikely.
Such has always been the case it seems with this mysterious Book of Books.
On top of that, a similar and parallel inquiry this morning from a trusted friend, much younger but an old soul at heart. He seems chosen as well for this edgy maverick ride with the Christ.
In fact, our life stories should not have gone as well as it seems they have to this point, both likely ended prematurely given our B.C. days (Before Christ). We get each other it seems, though I am 30 plus years his senior, brothers from different mothers!
He, a much better writer than me is always an encouragement to this old codger who so longs to share with his generation. A Millennial who will still sit with a Boomer is a gift.
He, along with those generations that follow him are desperately seeking a spiritual meaningfulness, something for many long lost in their pursuit of a fit within traditional church. Even those who have passionately attempted amped up worship, "on stage with smoke machines and high tech videos" often now are recoiling.
Don't get me wrong, for some that is heaven on earth, while to others, mere Christian entertainment, lacking the depth now yearned for, as well as producing the transformational impact implied within the scriptures.
Call it what you will, I still love the solace, fellowship and occasional breakthroughs shared in worship each week with my devoted Pentecostal, Presbyterian, once Missouri Synod wife! She brings balance to my edginess.
However, I cannot ignore what I see occurring around me, even wondering where my dear grandchildren may land, if American Christianity and global unrest continue unchanged.
The picture above of Little John looking into the future, with its wilderness background and a vast world of possibilities is why I pour out my heart each morning of late. My writing is more for them, than for those who may now currently read. My hope, unlike with my life, is that they can one day open one of my books or blogs and seek out what I have experienced, a spiritual practicality that better fits the marketplace than the sanctuary.
I also follow quite the spread of theological thought, from those who love to shoot at any religious bent, to those who have given serious study to the Book. You can't imagine the spectrum of opinion which I entertain, from a purely rational data driven approach to life, a live and let live liberal bent open to all faiths, to those with whom I was raised, professing wonders similar to those we read of in Christ's day. The latter is where I tend to go, so much reinforced by things seen and experienced that I cannot rationalize away.
However, this Being I have come to know, observed often in nature's order, Creation, reinforced by the mystery captured in the Canon of text, as well as being demonstrated within the diverse Body of Christ is a Being unwilling that any should perish or live without hope.
So, reading the thoughts of humans whether from their darkest depths of sorrow, or a defensive stand of denial, all painful at times, serves to make rich the bowels of compassion which now compel my heart. A "boxed to go" religion has now long ago fallen short of my needs.
If you have found a solace among those who think like you, look like you and worship like you, you are blessed! Yet, that should never isolate us from the gripping sorrow, darkness and despair so prevalent in our day.
Let your love light the path when others know no light, a love where grace abounds, one that is catalytic, such that questions arise as to the reason for the hope within you, versus the suspect that you are peddling your beliefs in order to merit some eternal reward.
Live life as if the Kingdom is among us and the love of the Father lavished upon us, as is the case!
The Babe is real, his righteousness free and love abounding. That's a powerful way to live, quite the contrast with the darkness of which I was once a part of!
God grant my grands such insight and wonder as they mature.