Recently a friend posed a question to a group of friends, in which I am thankfully included. He asked how we would finish a phrase, and here is my response.

His phrase:

Greater acceptance and understanding of God’s teachings leads to…

My response:

. . . an overwhelming realization of how horrible I am and how amazing it is that anyone would call me a friend.
. . . a dangerous responsibility that will forever leave me daydreaming about the days when I didn’t understand.
. . . feral anger at how my flesh enslaves me.
. . . clearer insight in regard to Isaiah’s response to God (I’m horrible, woe is me, I would be better unborn).

I don’t even know why my friends love/like me or call me “friend.” And my satisfaction with their ability to quit me (even though they don’t, surprisingly) leaves me dumbfounded at God’s inability. I would have quit me a long time ago. Sometimes I don’t know that I haven’t.


The previous posts are excerpts of my responses to the responses from the e-conversation that followed the phrase-finishing task.


As for someone unable to read the Bible, I am pretty jealous of those folks. They may have a purer understanding of God and his teaching than those of us who can read. Rom. 1:20 says that God’s eternal power and divine nature are evident through what has been made/created. It also says that God did it that way to remove excuses.

If I couldn’t read, I would be held accountable to the standard set by creation, i.e. nature. Seems like that is a similar standard for Adam and Eve in the Creation story since they were held accountable only for that which they were capable of knowing.

Man, if only I could have been illiterate. I may never have argued over baptism, instruments, marriage, “wine or strong drink,” Sunday worship vs. Sabbath worship, et al–all those things that some believe constitute the talking points of greater understanding. Instead, I would find myself with more time to sift through God’s eternal power or soak in thoughts of his divine nature, things apparently written on the rocks and on the backs of birds and gnats. All these walls, roads, skyscrapers, vehicles, etc., keep me from seeing what is probably simultaneously most basic and most complex about God. Heck, even state parks and the like want me to see nature their way.

Perhaps what we call civilization looks to God more like an ant farm: unending work inside our reality trying to get toward something we’ve never seen, but that we’re pretty sure can only be achieved through work since that seems to have gotten us everything else we’ve ever wanted.

“[g]ratitude which cannot rest or be confirmed until turned into praise, prayer, or some other expression” D. Lyles

That may be the first profound statement I’ve read in 2010. Not that anyone’s waiting in the wings on my stamp of approval.

It’s never dawned on me that “gratitude” is a state of being which can only be worn as a result of the VERB “thank.” The infinitive “to thank” is like the infinitive “to love.” Just as I can’t love you if I don’t prove it, I can’t thank you unless I prove it.

I guess that leaves me both depressed that I haven’t lived that way, and improved because I now can. Of course, I will most likely continue the depression because now that I have a deeper understanding (to an entry level), my past leads me to believe my future will be littered with the casualties of failed responsibility.

How many more people have I thanked than I have loved? How many new failures must I now face as a result of the realization that I have spoken “love” and “thanks” to well more people than I have loved and thanked?

I’m sure it’s number I never want to see.

Despite my past, or maybe because of it, I love you all and I thank you all. Of course, now I have to prove it, and I don’t know how. I really don’t.

It feels like I’ve taken everything I’ve ever been given and used it all as a method to walk away from God. Like God’s message to Israel through the whole Hosea/Gomer story, God taught me to walk only to find out I would use the skill to walk away (read Hosea 11 for some sobriety).

If I use the wrong (or maybe the right) math’, I am a monster like Frankenstein or Lennie (Of Mice and Men), but more like Frankenstein–created for good things and only capable of evil. I am capable of remaining faithful in every decision, but I find a way to continually require that God spin good out of my evil. So either I’m not following his lead or I’m simply screwing up and leaving casualties in my wake that God has to fix.

Every time I hit bottom, the casualties leave me fewer and fewer hands to help me up. I miss my friends and I may always have to. But I need to know that God will take my “family” out of Sodom despite my decisions.

May explain my hermit-like behavior. Just afraid to hurt anyone else. It’s like a mission effort to spare people by helping them pass me by.

All this could sound like depression-sourced talk, but I’ve really moved beyond that and am simply trying to at least make it make sense. Not justification, but at least a little peace in knowing that God will/can/does clean up my carnage in others’ lives.

I’ll very rarely ever mention the over-mentioned Jabez, but it may be prudent to point out that Jabez asked for his territory be enlarged, as opposed to the territory God has for him.

Just a thought. Sometimes I’m not so convinced that God has an exact blueprint for my life. To rule my life as if it were some type of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade type foot puzzle where I’m constantly having to check to make sure I’m making the step God planned or I might fall into a stalagmite-covered pit, it’s not within what seems to be his character.

It begs the question: Did Lot sin by choosing the land he chose, or was he rescued because he remained faithful within his choice (remember the lowest sell-stop number on S&G was 10 so that doesn’t mean Lot and his lot were unfaithful)?

It seems to me that we are called to be faithful no matter the choice or situation. It’s almost as if a choice, with two plausible answers (in other words an amoral choice), isn’t as important as the way we follow-up with the choice. “In whatever state I am, therewith to be content” Phil. 4.11. If we’re submitting to God, maybe we’re one (or both) of two things: 1. We’re either blessed where we are, or 2. We are where we are because we’re blessed. Maybe you’ve let yourself believe you’re where you are because of your decisions, but you’re really there by the hand of God. The litmus test may just be God’s glory and God’s blessing.

A lot of people believe that the Bible was preserved from generation to generation, untainted, intact, and sufficient, despite the cruel hands of Marcion, King James, Thomas Jefferson, and those people who’ve made the Bible look like a teen magazine. Those same people may be wise to take the same attitude about God’s relationship with his people. If he can part the water, create the world, preserve a text, and defeat Satan, he surely can lead/protect/bless you where he’s placed you, even if you think you got you there.

If you look at the amount of scripture used to talk about a subject as an indicator of a subject’s importance (and I do), God’s lead is not as important as your heart and faithfulness. Mainly because his lead is his business, and our heart (which will make us open to his lead whether we know it or not) is our business.

That and one penny represent one worthless e-mail and one obsolete denomination of currency.

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