Tuesday, November 09, 2004


Following Who?

Other people have always defined my life. I live in the space allowed me by the crowds around me, like the interstitial organisms that live in the beach between sand grains. We don't know they're there except indirectly, when sandpipers come and dig them up with quick little motions of their heads.

It's an issue of safety. By not pushing my way out of the space I'm allotted I don't attract attention. It's not a bad life, drifting along in a psychologic Brownian motion, with the occasional push into something unique and unnoticed, like sand sculpture. Temporary, fragile, here today and gone tomorrow.

No spine. People with spines attract a lot of attention and resistance. As soon as you try to do something big, you get resistance. I keep things small and quick, over before they're noticed.

Maybe Jesus is giving me a spine transplant. I know He's working on my heart.

In some ways, however, I know what a spine feels like. Outwardly I move with the crowd, but internally I maintain my own standards. I refuse to be swayed by popular opinion; you may get my physical compliance, but you don't get my mind unless I'm convinced.

Yes, it's an odd and stressful mix. It's an act that has become harder to support over the years because it takes a lot of energy to keep the areas separate. Public Larry and private Larry are different, and I have had to be very careful to make sure the private stays private.

This, however, could be one big problem in my pursuit of friendship. People may come away with the feeling that they never can know me, so they don't bother trying. I, for my part, can't get over the divide inside me; being forward and showing who is inside is just too much of a risk. It goes against a lifetime's well-learned habit of protective coloration and outward blending in.

God's constant rain of Himself into my life is dissolving the boundaries. This is terrifying. The only thing worse is going back to being without Him. Life without God is truly bleak, so I go on, quaking and frightened, and hoping that He'll hold me together.

One thing is sure: the process isn't going to end. I thought it would be short-term, but it's a lifetime of learning to follow Jesus instead of other people. Everyone knows what I should do, but only Jesus knows the truth, and He has promised to teach me. He won't give up, even if the only way I can continue to follow Him is to shift into super-double-extra low.

We used to have this old Jeep, and we'd spend the summers at our cabin in Colorado. The road to it was dirt, and climbed the shoulder of Green Mountain in a series of curves and straights draped over the hillside like a sleepy snake. We named the parts of the road. Bungalow Bend, Porcupine Curve, Toilet Tissue Terrace. The last part was steep, and we called it Stall-It-All Hill because my father would always try to get that old, tired Jeep to climb in second gear. If he really roared up the last straight and went flying around the curve below the hill in a cloud of dust with us all hanging on for dear life, and then stuck his foot in the carburetor and really put the cobs to it, we could make the hill on the engine's last gasping chugs. If we didn't make it, the engine would quit. My father would let it roll backward to a short stretch that was less steep, relight, and then he'd have to shift into super-double-extra low, and we'd crawl up the hill shorn of our momentum.

Momentum doesn't work in following Jesus. Only constant infusions of His power will keep this life going, even in super-double-extra low.

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