Archive for July 5th, 2010
And leading them outside, he said, “Sirs, what must I do that I may be saved?” Acts 16:30
Must – As I look back on some things written, I find this: “A growing sense of aloneness accompanies nearly every moment of my day. My social connections to comrades and friends offer peripheral distraction, but do not touch the deepest core of this loneliness. My dearest companion stands aloof, critical, judgmental. There is no comfort there. It is as if observation of my faults and failures becomes grist for condemnation rather than grounds for empathy. No one holds me. No one gives me permission to cry over my loss of the sense of self, of purpose, of acceptance. In a world filled with people, I am alone.
God is silent. I know Him as the Judge, not the Comforter. My desire to sit with Him and weep over my life seems impossible now. I don’t know where He is. Every word I write sounds the alarm and widens the abyss. I am tempted to give it up, but then there would be no reason to continue in the hope that somehow I will meet Him along this path.
Everywhere I look, I feel the pressure to perform – to live up to someone’s expectations. Some expect me to produce financial gain. Some expect me to rise above the dross of Christian confusion and lead a holy life. Some expect me to solve their problems, to give them direction, to fix things. But I am broken enough to know that none of these expectations will come to pass. I am not my brother’s fixer. Perhaps all I see is how desperately I need someone to care without any expectations.
The narcotic of addictive anesthetics no longer provides even temporary relief. I walk in the terrifying fog. I am stripped of life, animated aimlessness. What happened to the hope of wholeness? What happened to the wonder of simply living? It was pushed aside by the demand to be someone else. I am a hypocrite aware of his own pretense.
I am reminded of the Psalmist. ‘If I descend to Sheol, You are there.’ Well, I have descended. I am waiting. Are You there? My cognitive theology answers, “Of course,” but there is no emotional confirmation. Abraham waited 13 years before God spoke again.
I have cut the ties to Hellenistic Christianity. I can’t go back there. It is form without substance. But now what? The wilderness? Wandering? I don’t have what Israel has – a history that might sustain me in the valley of the shadow of death. I have no culture to lean on. I am disconnected. I am Hagar. I know where I have come from – my pain. But I don’t know where I am going. Only deeper into the desert to die. Without connection, I am not. To be human is to be in conversation with my Creator and a blessing to others. Most of us die as animals.”
If the jailer had time to reflect, he might have experienced some of these same thoughts. I often wonder if his cry isn’t really about the possibility of punishment for failure on the job. I wonder if he didn’t see, in a moment of heavenly illumination, that he was the prisoner. His question reveals his military orientation. The Greek verb, dei, is a call of duty. What must – of necessity, of obligation, of inevitability – I accomplish to be freed from the cell that surrounds me wherever I am? What is my duty now? How must I respond to my world turned upside-down? Help me.
Is his cry to be saved, to be ushered into the pearly gates when he dies? I don’t think so. That might be a by-product of his recognition of captivity, but I think his question is the question we all ask when we realize that we are prisoners within ourselves. What do I need to do to be rescued from the life that I have allowed to control me? What must I do to be saved from what I see to be true of myself? I can’t stay here anymore. My neat and tidy world has been dismantled. I am suddenly surrounded by a terrifying fog. Help me, please.
Topical Index: save, must, dei, Acts 16:30
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