There’s a difference between a hopeless hurting and a hopeful hurting. One’s darkness is complete. The other has a star or a moon or a distant glow on the horizon. A birth.
The biggest risk to a person of faith and religion is to walk into the trap of the rationalist. One with the same walls and bars as his peers. Walls made of rationalism and materialism; high, unreachable windows barred with adamantine determinism. Caught in the complex gears of a machine rather than strolling in the simple daylight of a miracle.
The biggest risk to a law abiding person is to no longer abide in the law, but die in it.
The biggest risk for the Christian is to no longer bear his cross but buck against it.
The adversary of existence wagered that if God’s hedge of protection was removed from a certain man, exposing him to pain and suffering, God, as a useful concept for making life worth its existence would become useless. God would progressively hide from him and as a result the man would curse existence itself. But the adversary miscalculated. Because for a man like Job, exposure to suffering did not hide a revealed God, rather it accomplished the exact opposite: it revealed the hidden God.
Through suffering Job was forced to confront his concepts of God versus the actual God.
As Job was sitting in the ashes of his life, scraping his sores with potsherds he was finally brought into an unhedged view of God. He and he alone.
In the cosmic court room, there is God and you. That’s it. When the verdict is given—the truth spoken aloud—Job walks out of the courtroom into new life. A life marked by understanding.
“Making a choice” is when there are two things before you but you only get to choose one. It is the spoiled brat in you who thinks he can have both. It is the Cain in you who thinks he can have both.
At the fork in the road, you can’t continue down both roads at the same time or splits you in two.
You can chose hate or love. Not both. You cannot both hate your enemy and love yourself at the same time. Why? Because they are both you.
You cannot both nurse your resentment for life’s rejection and enjoy peace in its acceptance at the same time.
You cannot both nurse your resentment for God's rejection and enjoy peace in His acceptance at the same time.
What do you do when God rejects you?
I don't know. I guess you'll make your choice.
It took me a long time to figure this out, but I chose Him anyway.
t“The Wall” is a very good image or term or metaphor. It matches a question I have been thinking about the past couple of days: Why are the waters are always at flood-stage when it is time to cross?
And I think it something about real change. Real change. Real growth. Not small incremental change, but massive transformation. We “small increment” ourselves to death—right up to the Wall. Then we divide the distance to the Wall in half, like Achilles, literally forever. Which is a great way of never hitting the wall, but also of never going anywhere.
The Wall is like the flood-stage: It is only when the waters are at flood-stage we finally realize there is no way that “I” could ever do it; “I” can never cross it. It is impossible.
And at that lonely, terrifying place, the ONLY choice is to allow the transcendent in. “I” must no longer continue the journey of half-lengths—it isn’t working; “I” must turn a new direction—inward. “I” go deep. On the surface, near the Wall, I leave the husk of Adam Hankins, a cocoon; I must leave and go down—I am shrinking. Dissolving. Making contact with something new, yet at the same time ancient—the self-organizing principle. My DNA is restructured in the primordial soup. Out comes something different—changed. No incremental thing. A thing with wings.
The suffering servant—the one who serves a thing outside his understanding in spite of his suffering—is the one who speaks straight to the soul. He always is NOT desired, NOT seen. Christianity shouts from the rooftops with inaudible yelps: “Not majesty! Not splendor! Look lower! Don’t look to the believable! Look to the unbelievable! It is the lowest thing that is lifted higher than all others!”
Man should not suffer.
No! Man suffers.
It is the man who strives to avoid suffering that holds the truth of life!
No! It is the man who accepts it...that holds the keys to to life. The man who is MOST humble is stepped upon. The man who loves most of all is the tenderest shoot in a desert. The man who bears the ripest fruits of character is bruised and bloody beyond recognition. Nations, kingdoms, society, families, education, systems, politics, philosophies, stoics, gnostics, science, doctrines, the crowd and the individualist alike cannot stand near him without smashing him.
But it is exactly that…precisely this…by definition and design: that which is unexpected harbors hope.
Take all that is desirable—he is not there.
Take all that is splendid and majestic—he will not be found clothed in those garments.
Look elsewhere to finally see. Listen far from what is obvious to the ears to finally hear.
Buddha says life is suffering. And as statements go, that one has a lot going for it.
But life is also alive. It is also joy. And this aspect of life seems to win somehow. Little by little. Like the tip of a wave cresting toward the shore instead of away. The thing tilts in our favor, bringing things to us. New surprises at our feet. New shells to wonder at.
Otherwise, by some mathematical law somewhere, we should be long gone. Little by little, even great blocks of marble should be chipped and chiseled to dust. Yet, here we stand like King David, created in the image of God.
"Man...this amazing man...figured out how to go on after suffering."
—from the snarling lips of Satan; from the smiling lips of God.
How do you accept suffering and death at the end of your life?
You accept it at the beginning. Says Jesus as he walks out of the wilderness.
God is saying to the Israelites through the symbol of Moses’s raised serpent, “That feeling of discomfort slithering and squeezing around your midsection is a sign of undealt with truth in your life. All those parts of your world you once felt ok ignoring...denying—have become obstacles—a sign of your unredeemed state—your suffering highlights your need for salvation. They—the undone things—have turned your landscape into a place where you can no longer peacefully ignore; no longer make things irrelevant. This desert of discomfort is not a place of peace. It is a place of broken relationships littering the ground around you—a place of not working on what you are supposed to be doing —of not becoming what you always should have been—of truths avoided; not ‘faced.’ I will not help by ’taking it away,’ I will help you by drawing your eye sharply to where you need to look the most—to the point of truth. If you really want help, it’s time to look here—to face the snake. Here is the hope lying within. I promise you, you can do it. I have created you to be able to handle snakes."
Can you sense the relief that the problem is actually you? For if the world is the problem; then that is hopeless.