Saturday, October 23, 2004



"This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
I will gather you from the nations
and bring you back from the countries
where you have been scattered
and I will give you back the land of Israel again.

"They will return to it
and remove all its vile images and detestable idols.
I will give them an undivided heart
and put a new spirit in them;
I will remove from them their heart of stone
and give them a heart of flesh.
Then they will follow my decrees
and be careful to keep my laws.
They will be my people, and
I will be their God. (Ezekiel 11: 17-20 NIV)

As usual, Lu's spiritual eyesight is sharp. Heart of stone, heart of flesh.
She commented on one of my Blog entries and included this quote. It
describes, quite precisely, what God is doing with me. I knew what he was
doing, had described it but never formulated it in this way. Evidently I'm
not the only person in whose heart God has wrought change.

It sounds wonderful. Changing dead, cold stone for living flesh. Warm.
There are problems, however, one of them being simple experience. I know
stone. I know its limitations, and I know how to live with these. I don't
know how to live with warm flesh.

Stone is durable. When the wheels come off you just sit tight and let the
world fall apart around your unaffected stone core. Waves come in and can't
touch you. Stone is stable. Winds howl and the stone is unmoved. In a world
seeking to destroy every distinction by bringing everything to the lowest
common denominator, a stone heart is easy to keep on the higher way. It
can't be pulled down. Other people's opinions have no effect.

Perfect, right? A stone on the straight and narrow.

Wrong. That's not the way God made me, but the way I remade myself. Meet
hostility with stone. It was better than fighting back, which just brought
on ever escalating conflict. God didn't like my solution, and started
dissolving my stone heart. What I thought was tough granite turns out to
have been limestone, susceptible of dissolution by the one solvent I least
expected. Love.

I was terrified. I am terrified. The only way I can keep the terror livable
is to look ahead no farther than required for the next tiny step. If I get
a look at the long way ahead I cower and turn away. It'd be better if I
could walk backward.

Somewhere ahead is the Big Event, the one that will terminate my existence.
I'll hit the cliff and go no farther. A heart of stone might survive the
collision. A heart of flesh doesn't even want to contemplate it.

A heart of flesh can be hurt. I've had my fill of pain and don't want any

Yet, what can I do? I am God's child, and He is my God. With Job, all I can
say is:

"You said 'Listen to me, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you shall answer me.'
My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes."

Repenting doesn't require dust, sackcloth and ashes. It, in my case, simply
requires turning around and letting God do what he wants. He's proven to me
that he knows better than I what needs to be done.

Holding onto that promise requires some of stone's obdurate character.
God's will for me includes some incomprehensible balance of me-ness and
Him-ness. He made me for something other than just living as a rock-legged
robot making a straight path out of a world that wanders.

Beauty is the door into wonder. It's dangerous. God's way is of beauty. I
can't see it if I'm looking no farther than my toes, nor if I'm locked away
behind cold stone. Beauty is the way of strength, stone the way of
weakness. I know only the weaker way, and trust only it. Can I really trust
God to give me the strength to survive his beauty?

2004 October 23

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