By C.S. Humble
This might just be me, but spiritually, I get lonely. There are times when I feel so empty that the only appropriate analogous descriptive noun would be ‘abyss’. Sometimes I feel like I’ve over complicated the gospel, other moments like I’ve simplified the eternal mystery of God so that I can have a reason to feel superior to others who embrace the mystical nature of Christ with childlike faith. I love to peacock and tout my own collected volumes of trivial knowledge, which I’ve stored away in my brain where real wisdom would be a better furnishing, so that people will think that I don’t struggle with an intellectual inferiority complex.
I suppose that I’m not the only person who over compensates through the use of verbal trickery and a suped-up vocabulary, but it feels good to let it out and let people know that I only do that because I can’t afford to be seen as intellectually vulnerable. Appearing incapable is one of my greatest fears; many of my closest friends will tell you that at my root I’m just a paper Napoleon, who struggles with math, giving grace, and cringes at the thought of suffering for those who suffer. I’m a Christian who has shunned the thought of entering back into the fold of the community of God because I’m afraid I’d get burned again by people who rejected who I acknowledged myself to be.
I don’t think it would be fair to label myself a hypocrite, because I do strive to live the life that I attest to be ‘the Way’ in my words. Falling down though,that I’m quite good at. I’ve been so very good at sins which I’m able to hide away from all of the public; tuck them away into pockets of self-deprecating humor, harmless cajoling, and help them find camouflage deep in my heart – the place you cannot see.
I’m a guilty man who finds ultimate liberty in the submission to a God of mercy. I’m a former bigot who, through the compassion of Christ, was able to begin to love my neighbor. I’ve been able to put away racism and objectification of women because of an equality made known to me through my marriage to my Wife, and a covenant made with God. I am a man who is fettered to two emotional pillars – isolation and attention whore; I’d either have people leave me entirely alone or espouse how funny, smart, or endearing I am. Again, I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way or knows this type of existence –an existence that is identified with brokenness or lack of worth –but I do think that it was time to be honest.
The message of Jesus teaches that there is a deep and eternal value on each human life, God cares for and loves the bigot as much as he does the orphan, the scales of his love remain balanced when the life of the murderer is weighed against that of the widow. It is a love that surpasses the sum of human knowledge, logic, or any reasoning system that our minds are capable of cogitating. It’s a love, that to me, seems unfairly fair. And I say fair, but what I mean is just.
The weight of who we are, the yoke of all our internal terribleness or intrinsic wonderfulness, in each of us is equally valued by God. The criminal cross of Christ, the instrument of death wrought upon God by humanity, has been neutered; the power of death, fear, darkness, and obliteration have been jailed away, never to encroach upon the true and illuminated reality of life in God.
Love has won the day.
So perhaps what I am saying, through this form of confession and homily, is that you and I are here, living in this world which seems surrounded by plague, death, hatred, intolerance, ignorance, destitution, hunger, poverty, and an indefatigable force of evil; but this is not the reality. The reality is that despite our pain and sorrows and struggles on this earthly plane there is a helper of the helpless, a light in the darkness, a God who abides.
A strong tower.
A fount of every blessing.
A bridegroom whose love washes away all shame, hurt, and unclean thing.
So maybe you are like me, a pilgrim who has come so very far in who I once was, but is struggling each day to understand who I need to be. Or maybe you are someone who feels lost and alone, thrown away by an uncaring world, and sees no reason to go on. Perhaps it’s a darkness that’s fallen over you because of a death, or a loss of incalculable measure. We all have the seams of imperfection cracking and creaking all the time in our souls – the midnight hour always upon us.
I’m not going to ask you to convert. I’m not going to tell you to ‘pray for Jesus to come into your heart’. I’m not going to give you some antiquated parable, that I’d probably screw up anyway, to make you feel better. I’m tired of the of the social internet rules that make people ‘friends’ but not a community. I want us to be honest with one another and start giving one another real support without the demand of theological agreement or unified orthodoxy.
Rather, I’ll only say that I’m a sinner who asks for grace and hopes for mercy, and if you struggle like I do, I’m happy to tell you that I’m here. I’ll help you endure. I’ll be a strong shoulder to lean on.
No matter who you are.
I love you.