This has been quite an interesting two weeks, thus my silence. I have encountered a whole host of people who are either unaware of the ill they do, or are aware and ignore the voice of conscience. Ok, I wont stand here and judge like I never disobey what my conscience says or even claim to have never caused any harm by my disobedience so take this toasted lament with a pinch of salt, a hint of pepper and some Marmite (which I hate by the way).
You are always righteous, O LORD, when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease?
The question that has been marinating in my heart is this. Do the wicked have no conscience or is its voice dimmed?
In my own life I’ve found it quite hard to make a cup of tea for myself without offering one to whoever was around me. I struggled to eat the last biscuit in the pack, and used to buy two chocolate bars so that when asked I had one to share. I try to do what I can to be a positive in people’s lives. This is quite difficult as my desire is to serve myself, thus wrought for others seems vain. My conscience however, loud as a drum, kicks in and wrangles with my self-centeredness whenever I turn away from serving others.
This moreover is a world full of people who can be ungrateful, and utterly selfish with no regard for their neighbour’s wellbeing, and seemingly get away with it. This makes the whole turn the other cheek thing tough; not because the other person is relentless but because deep down I wish I could get away with doing what they are doing. This is at the core of my complaint. It is such a devastating lens focused onto my own depravity: that it isn’t against the wicked that I lament but a desire at very center of my heart to be one. I genuinely love God and would like to think that my actions in line with His will are rooted in a love for Him rather than a fear of my actions’ consequences. But that root isn’t as straight forward as I find as similar a mystery as is the nature of Grace at the core of my desires.
I honestly do wish I could get away with half of what I have seen people do this week and am – like Jeremiah – complaining about it. At the same time, I know how harmful selfishness can be and am – in a small part – grateful that I know I wont actually get away with it. It doesn’t stop it being painful to witness, neither does it make doing good easier.
Our faith is difficult one. I suppose if you aren’t grappling with it constantly then you’re either almost in heaven or most certainly angelic. It’s answer to the pangs of desire is to ask us to pursue someone else’s: God’s. This doesn’t stop them from being pangs. I suppose the idea of ‘carrying a cross and following Jesus’ is this sense of doing something difficult for a cause that transcends our own. It’s a noble thought that like a drop of water skims the surface of a furnace almost mocking the hope of dousing the flames.
Evidently I am in complain mode so I will not put my positive thoughts. (Out of disobedience because I hear and feel the answers to my complaint: take what you will from that.)
I have made a covenant with my eyes
A few lines musing on the root of lust.
It’s strange that I would wish I hadn’t
raised my head from the soft pillow.
For maybe I this madness wouldn’t
have ingested from the window.
In slumber I’d my thoughts so ardent
Kept concealed and winnowed.
And so I’ve lived in persistent fear
of that day when the Lord would come,
for the cool – once an oasis near –
now burns my parched tongue.
And his words – once songs to my ear –
the noose from which life hung.
If love lived in a hunger unquenched,
and lust was a drowning thirst,
Then merry many sweet fruits untouched
would have kept us with the first.
And the words he placed to stay the tears,
would have worked to stay the hearse
© Denis Adide 2011
Once he saw her, he was lost. Two people lost their lives, two had their lives changed and three relationships were broken. Bathsheba, like eve, is not to blame.
There is a whole thesis to unpack about the mysterious place that a Christian finds themselves. On the one hand there is an ever loving God keen to show and give his love fully, a love which without the freedom to choose we wouldn’t understand. In fact, the freedom to choose is itself a gift of love. On the other hand there is this sense that our capacity to act in accordance with our desires towards loving God is hampered by various factors. Therefore a dependence on his provision and guidance is also necessary. How far then does the pre-emptive love of God stretch and how much choice to we really have. Omnipotent everywhere or potent in some areas? It is on this dilemma that my question rests.
As I continue to contemplate Addiction and Grace while studying Gerald G. May’s text, this idea of responsibility, irresponsibility, and choice seems to be the fog to wade through. The idea of sin as a choice emerges from the same root as that of sin as a sickness. When does the indictment stop accounting for socio-economic factors, or psychological and physiological dysfunctionality? How far into the soul are these dysfunctionalities weaved? Most importantly are these dysfunctionalities – the capacity to countermand – the bedrock of our freedom? And if so, what is the purpose of Grace?
See, I firmly believe in freedom, but also firmly in brokenness – our inability to wisely use our freedom. Sin to me is as much a complex mix of both a sickness and a choice just as I am a complex mix of mind, body, and soul. (As you would probably come to see in most of my works, I fray from dichotomy. Nothing is as affixed). This all makes the idea of teaching this at church this sunday quite daunting (I’m writing the talk this week). The quote below is my starting point.
When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a bicycle. Then I realised that the Lord doesn’t work that way so I stole one and asked for forgiveness
Repression, then, in spite of its sinister reputation, is relatively flexible. It is workable. Addiction, the other force that turns us away from love, is much more vicious.
Gerald G. May MD Addiction And Grace
As reflected in my posts of late, the idea of being vulnerable and broken has been burning within my mind and heart. I have been contemplating the effects of denying my own brokenness on my relationships and the expectations I have within them. By relationships I also refer to the one I have with myself. The questions regarding how I interact with myself, treat myself, apply also to the way I treat others. This is because the command that I feel my desire leads me to try and follow is that by Jesus to us to try and love our neighbor as we do ourselves.
I have therefore been forced in a way to confront my own desires, both the deep inner good ones as well as the deep inner bad ones; the kinds that lead to my diceitful and selfish choices – choices that I knowingly make and even desire to make. This contradiction is a reflections of my own brokenness and unless I face them and begin that first journey of self acceptance, there would be little success in my attempts to love others or even accept being loved – especially by myself. Odd to think that unless I see myself for what I am, warts and all, I am bound to constant self-deception which weakens rather than strengthens.
In discussion with a close friend about these conflicts within me, the ideas regarding addiction and repression in respect to sin were brought up and he recommended Gerald G. May’s Addiction And Grace which I have just started reading. It is very insightful and one chapter in has opened my heart to thoughts I had denied within myself. The nature of addiction is still far from my understanding. The nature of love, however, is much closer and I think is the driving force on this journey.
Lets see where it leads.
Happy New Year to you all.