Wednesday, March 9, 2011

the Things for Which We Long.

The gray chill of a mid-March Missouri afternoon. It hangs over the sluggish, brown fields and skeleton trees. Stray birds, returned early in anticipation of sun and warmth, strain to sing the spring out of its bashful reclusion. Trickles of rain-water cut divots in the soft, thawing earth, swelling creeks and streams, eager to nourish the almost-awakened trees and mosses and grasses.

But today, the gray vestiges of hibernation still linger, an unpleasant guest on an overstayed welcome. Today the earth waits. Its time has not yet come. But the burgeoning life within it cannot be suppressed long. The songs of the frogs and insects and the birds will recall this world to life, and the gray will dissipate into the glorious colors and smells of regenerate growth and virility.

On the threshold of this great awakening, we watch hopefully, eagerly. As though reflected in this physical change around us are harbingers of an impending renewal within ourselves. As though by osmosis we will absorb this fresh revitalization. Our hearts yearn to see the change. To see the passing of a season. To, perhaps in some sense, awaken a freshness within the confines of our individual humanity. To reignite zest and passion. To escape the routine. To catch the faintest taste of something intangible. To see that in the predictable, clinical confines of our technologically-bound lives, there still is a dusting of magic in the bosom of the earth. A clean, unencumbered hope that no gadget, invention, possession or luxury can imitate. The smell of budding trees, the feel of a newly warmed breeze, the sound of crickets in the evening grass. These are the things that inspire. And these are the things for which we long in the gray chill of a mid-March afternoon.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Fence, And Trying To Straddle It.

I've not blogged in quite a few days, primarily because I've been hoping to craft something intricate, beautiful, and thought-provoking. However, after so many days passing and still lacking an opus, I sit here tonight simply looking to air out my mind. The cobwebs in the corners of my brain that I try to avoid at all costs need a little attention. It has been one of those days that has probed beneath the facade of what I wish I was and has revealed a little more of who I actually am. Not always an encouraging experience. But most certainly a healthy one.

Perhaps illumination occured last night after a great evening spent with an good friend. We discussed many of the things with which I have been wrestling today, touching on topics such as the state of the contemporary church and briefly, but more relevantly, on the state of those filling the pews on Sunday morning. As I sat through services this morning, that conversation came to mind, sparking a very introspective look at who I am as a believer. A stock-taking of what fruit I am producing as a self-proclaimed Christian. Sadly, it did not take long to realize the dismal reality. And while I recognize that no Christian - no matter how seasoned or mature - will lead a spotless life, there are certain foundational principles and behaviors that have no place in a Christ-follower's walk. Yet there sat I in the house of worship, drenched in the unconfessed guilt and wretchedness of my self-righteousness. The realization of one's own depravity, or propensity toward it, is sobering and humbling. To sit in the house of God, to publicly claim the name of Christ while living in unrepentent carnality goes against every fiber of authentic Christianity. Sadly so many times, so many sunday mornings, I would sit and pass judgment on those I knew or suspected were living double lives. And now, I have finally had the blinders removed to see quite clearly that I am among the chiefest of them.

I'm not writing this for shock or to generate some sort of good will. I write this to encourage those that share my beliefs to examine themselves. Christianity is not merely a peripheral activity to fill in the cracks of our lives. Christianity is our lives. Everything else is secondary. I pray that God allows me the strength and the focus to seek growth and authenticity in my walk with him. And also the fortitude to deal with my shortcomings and harbored sins. Why be a Christian and not take it seriously? What could possibly be the point? Straddling the fence is no different than being on the wrong side of it. Christianity has to mean something, it has to be taken seriously. Otherwise it becomes no more than an extra, weekend activity.