Monday, November 15, 2004
She's right. There's no reason at all, and when I'm walking with God I am living to the hilt. It may not look like it, but all of us have different things to do.
What I find discouraging is how easy it is to be knocked out of walking with God. I have problems with fear. I'm especially afraid of people: what they might say to me, possible criticism, unbelief (you can't be a Christian because you don't believe what I do) or they might just laugh at my small victories.
I know how to deal with this. I have a well-fitted shell, and I know how to use it. It's actually pretty simple. I walk into the church and just close down. It's automatic and reliable.
I went to Metro on Sunday with Debbie and Nate. We met, with hugs, out on the lawn and then walked in. I got there first and waited in the warm sunlight, reminding myself that this wasn't such a bad place, but as soon as we walked in the shell snapped into place so quickly I didn't even realize it.
Something about this place just scares me. Mosaic ran with less obvious emotion. Metro is a more demonstrative, more effusive outfit. To me, such relatively showy practices are hallmarks of lies. If something is real you don't need to talk it up. How much of what I see is genuine, and how much is just pumped-up like the foam on beer? It just gives me the heebie-jeebies.
What if it's real? We've all been given new lives by God. Free gift. Think about what you want out of life, get right to the hidden core that you never share with anyone else, and that's what God wants to give you outright. He does it, too. Celebration is a good response! Ecstatic praise is fully justified!
But, oh, no. Can't be that demonstrative. That wouldn't be cool, and it might upset someone else. "Brother, I think you need to calm down." Beware of anything that comes after being addressed as "Brother" or "Sister." Being demonstrative just seems to me like a way to call attention to myself.
Why not celebrate? I tend to be a quiet celebrator. Partly because I'm quiet by nature, partly because I don't trust celebrations of any kind. Right after the celebration comes the realization that it was mainly whistling past the cemetery. But how much does God have to give me before I believe that I can celebrate with some reality?
It's probably habit by now, more than anything else. I don't see myself as a demonstrative celebrator, so I'm not one. What if I would like to kick up my heels sometime?
So there I am all wrapped up with what really is a tempest in a teacup. All I really have to do is keep following Jesus. If celebration starts to effuse from my life, if I become effervescent, then you'll know it's a miracle. I'm certainly not going to produce it myself; there are too many controls in the way for that to happen.
Pastor Steve's message was taken from Psalms 22 and 23. He started by reading 23: "The Lord is my shepherd..." and then contrasted that with David's despairing voice in 22. "We all want the shepherd part, right?" he said. "But we get the other, too. How much do you trust God? Can you go on trusting Him when He seems to be anywhere but where you are?"
Can I trust God to guide me in this difficult issue? Can I trust Him to show me the truth? No one at Metro is demanding that I join in with the hand-raising and such. My desire to do so probably comes as much from wanting to have protective coloration as from any desire to praise God: When in Rome, shoot Roman candles because you'll be too visible if you don't.
How can I honestly demonstrate that kind of devotion when, if I were truly devoted, I would be doing His commandments? Do you see all the traps here? Anyone who believes that we are not in spiritual warfare needs to wake up and smell the corruption. I run myself around in circles trying to find something that I think is truth.
The real truth is that only God can untangle this kind of thing. My task remains as it has: keep following Jesus. His yoke is easy and His burden is light, and He leads into life even when it doesn't look like the life I want. I'll be OK as long as He continues to remind me of that. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for what you've done already.