Tuesday, March 08, 2005



The mind says "Keep going. We know this is right." All the pieces are laid out in order, rational and explicable. "No problem."
The heart responds, "No fuckin' way, pal!" and digs in. No manner of cajoling or persuasion will unstick the parking brake.

God is out there. We know he is. We, the whole mismatched community that makes up one wandering person, know he has prepared the way. We know, and have experienced, his promises. All the knowledge can't budge the fearing heart. "I'm not going that way. Forget it. There're dragons and tigers, monsters and mudholes, and all you're gonna do is get me out there and then abandon me. Like everyone else has. And the rest of you lot in here are no damned help at all, throwing me to the lions so that you can get out first. So, NO! I'm not going that way."

Well, that pretty well shuts down the program. Going on without a heart just isn't worth doing. I lived that way for years but thanks to God I now have some idea of what a heart is for. I feel lifeless without it. I used to overrule my heart with my mind; it got dragged into situations willy-nilly. Oh, sometimes it'd get a voice in the doings but most of the time it was like the small child on an adult journey: always holding things up. "Wait a minute, Harry, I've gotta change the little snot's diapers. Again."

Our whole culture is about power. Those with quieter or slower voices get shouted down by the quick and the loud, and they're expected to get in harness with the majority. I'm a non-majority kind of person, never interested in following the rest of the sheep to the latest fashion or the crash of rhinos over the nearest evangelical cliff. I use my mind to figure out which way to go and then I do it.

It's a rather lonely path. Off by myself, I never learned the language of social interaction. God is teaching me, word by word, and it seems to be a backward process. I left my heart behind years ago and now it's coming back into my life. I'm too old for this kind of crap. Learning to live with a heart? You're supposed to do that as a child. I should probably consider myself lucky to get another chance, but I was comfortable enough, thank you, so don't interfere by sticking your hand down into my little hole.

Don't tell me there's a new world out there, because I know it's a lie. Many promises made, but none of them is made good. The new world promise is just another way to get hurt. Forget it. Oz doesn't exist, Shangri-La is just like Kansas.

I stand on my side of the canyon, looking at the illusions on the other side, and wish they were real. God promises that they're real, but, yeow. You want me to trust, just one more time? That's what they all say as they run off with my resources.

The truth is I'm halfway across the canyon anyway, trying not to look at the space under my feet. The view ahead is scary enough: those tigers and dragons of history, ready to rise up against my challenge and eat me alive as they've done before. God's hand holds me lightly, surely, turning space into footing. Further truth: there are dragons behind, also. They're more familiar and therefore easier to live with, but no less ugly. As I wrote in a story a year or so ago, why wait for failure when I can wait for success?

I wrote that when I was optimistic. I didn't know what was coming. I didn't know the God of the Universe was going to take time off from kindling great balls of nuclear fire and reach into my soul. I figured a quick coat of new paint would be the extent of the job, but no. He has to start over again, going back to first principles and the original plan: Larry-committee reborn whole in Jesus' image.

He is tireless, implacable in his patience, and unswervable. His tenacity is the original the bulldog can only dream of. His light reaches far forward and when it hits those dragons they shrink into little bitty things, mewling and pissing on the floor. This would be encouraging except that I'm looking backward, using memory to navigate and in memory the teeth are long, the breath hot, the scales adamant. Run, while you have the chance.

Backward. Away from God. After a while it begins to seem pretty familiar. How many times do I have to repeat the lesson? Move away from God and the rain goes away, the plants wilt, the edges become dry and crisp.

Thus, stasis. Fearful heart, gung-ho (or just desperate) mind, worrying about God dropping me from a position in the middle of nowhere. He could just end it all, let go and find a more responsive person, except that's not his character. His love is fierce and complete. I can go forward, or I can go back, but he will not let go. He waits.

Jacob wrestled with God until God granted the blessing. I wrestle with God in an attempt to make him quit blessing me. Carl's little prayers ("God bless you even more, Larry...") don't help at all. Not one little bit.

It's a strange way to live. God invites me to follow him and then he provides everything I need to do so. Dependence. Like a sheep following, confused and lost, behind the shepherd. Yet in this dependency grows another kind of independence, a dependence upon a mind made more trustworthy for its intimacy with the Holy Spirit. The heart still quails, but can sense that its solo days of being the final stopper on any action are numbered. What will its role be in the remade committee?

No wonder I'm scared. God doesn't do whitewash and quick patches. Churches are happy with outward production. God is happy with nothing less that perfection. He looks at me and, by his grace sees me through Jesus, the intensity of his gaze burning away everything that doesn't fit his perfect image of me.

The light shatters, scattered by God-honed surfaces into the lives of others. We all wander around in a lightstruck daze, lives illuminating lives in ways we don't even know because none of us talks to each other. It's a lonely walk, crossing that chasm, and few are willing to risk making it lonelier by being laughed at by others who are safely anchored on the solid edge, built strong in their shared opinions.

God is our guide. He knows our Names and knows where our feet belong. I just wish my heart were safe someplace else.

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