Monday, December 06, 2004
I am the utter contempt of my neighbors;
I am a dread to my friends--
those who see me on the street flee from me.
I am forgotten by them as if I were dead;
I have become like broken pottery.
For I hear the slander of many;
there is terror on every side;
they conspire against me
and plot to take my life.
But I trust in you, O Lord;
I say "You are my God." (Psalm 31:11-14 NIV)
Debbie wrote "Pastor [Steve, of Metro] mentioned that this is exactly what
we are, and when we are with Christ we are still a broken pot, yet filled
with the Spirit. Because we are broken, we leak. When we are without
Christ what is noticed about the pot are all the big ugly cracks, but with
Christ the Spirit is what leaks through and thus HE gets the attention.
The cracks are forgotten. HIS strength is our weakness. He is glorified!
Larry, spirit is busting out of you all over the place!!! Liquid light.
Beautiful. His work in you is inspiring."
Snow is weightless, fluffy stuff. It comes down so softly you hardly even
notice. Men at a research station in Antarctica noticed when, after years
of storms, the snow was heavy enough to crush the steel drums they used for
pillars to hold up the roof. They had to abandon the station. The photos I
saw impressed me. Done by snow, each flake insignificant but powerful in
their unnumbered aggregation like the hassles we face in life. Even a steel
spine couldn't resist them. The steel broke.
I wanted to believe I was complete in myself. Of course, I had to be, but
life offers irresistible crushing forces. The only way I could survive was
to keep moving out one step ahead of the accumulating snow. Once you reach
the west coast, however, there's no place else to go. I'm not a good
I'm a good drifter, however, rolling along with the current and thus
avoiding the forces that result from resisting. That way, the cracks and
weak places never get stressed. I'd seen other people get in too deep and
fall apart. That was not to be my end; once you have to have help to get
out of hole, just to hold yourself together, your soul is gone. The
"helpers" will help, all right, but the person who comes out of that
process will be only a small shadow of what was there at the start. Better
to live with my weaknesses and face the permanent threat of dissolution
than to get help, become solid and thereby rigid like the people around me.
All of that would have to change, I thought, when I gave my life (again) to
God. He'd remove the problematic parts of myself, which was just about
everything, and replace it all. "Go ahead," I said. "i'm dead meat anyway.
I can't go through any more of life as I am."
Note that this was no great heroic act. There was no blare of trumpets, or
a decision on my part to serve God no matter what. It was purely a cry for
help, and I was willing to accept help on God's terms because of what I was
seeing Him do in the people I knew (for all of two weeks) at Mosaic. That
God reached down to help me is due entirely to His generous and kind
nature. That was a surprise, but even more surprising was His respect for
me as I was. There was to be no wholesale replacement. He made me as I was,
and wanted to restore me to what He'd designed from the beginning.
People have called me many things through the years. "Crazy Larry" is a
common one. "Intransigent." "Iconoclastic." "Stubborn." Others I can't put
in a public document. Never had anyone, however, called me a "Warrior"
until Lu did it. If this had come from anyone else I'd have said it was
"lying for effect," but Lu doesn't lie. Given the source I couldn't just
reject the idea out of hand. By such subtle hints does the Holy Spirit
transform a life, one bit at a time. Once you start thinking of yourself as
a warrior, aided by encouragement from the Holy Spirit, well, you just
naturally start acting like one.
I had to reconsider my idea of what a warrior is. No Conan-style bash first
and then think type. No mindless automatic fighter. No, more like Gideon,
who just sort of found himself in the right place at the right time, and
God said "Go." He went. Jonathan went out to look around, saying "Maybe God
will do something and hand us the enemy." Go try it. Well, I do know how to
There are problems. A warrior has to have a spine, or else he folds up when
all those little pressures add up. Where does a spine come from? How does a
career jellyfish grow this marvelously strong and flexible structure?
The cracks between my parts run deep. I have held them together by pure
will until I ran out of will. It doesn't matter any more. As the Holy
Spirit grows into me, all those shards of shattered humanness become knit
together by Him. The tender human pieces are left as they are, human, but
they are all bound to each other by His own unbreakable bonds. Those bonds
shine with their own light and they take most of the load. The structure is
flexible and strong. A real warrior. Like Jesus, who acted perfectly in
each of His encounters with people, giving them just what they needed.
Here's a secret. We were made in pieces. We were made to have God in us all
the time, living and flexible. We chose knowledge of good and evil over
God's participation in our lives, and the load imposed by making those
decisions is just too much for us. Like any other machine pushed beyond its
design, we have lots of trouble. We all try to be rigid and strong, and end
up growing up twisted and buckled, like those old oil drums. Too much.
God very kindly offers us an alternative. A return to that living and
flexible relationship. I'm a fortunate man. If men had been running the
universe I'd have been rejected a long time ago. Insufficiently rigid, most
unlike the classic fighter. I prefer God's ideas.
2004 December 5 (from an older idea that jelled around Debbie's comments)
Completed December 6