Thursday, October 20, 2005
Hand Over the Abyss
I survive through not looking in there. I know it exists, I know it's ready to swallow me whole. I don't look. I skate around the edge and distract myself, filter the feelings, act as if it's not there but it is. I feel the pit and I see reminders of its reality every day hanging around on streetcorners in Los Angeles. People who have given up.
I gave up years ago. I realized life would never be what I wanted, but, well, you just can't act like that or you have even more problems than the basic one. Push myself out of bed, push myself along the track, keep going and don't look back. Ever. Until I felt the pit's edge crumbling under my feet. That's when God stepped in.
Nothing really has changed in the ensuing two years. Maybe it never will. I no longer have a clear idea of what God is up to.
Having read many horror stories of Christians being abandoned in sticky places I expect the same to happen to me. God will realize how inconvenient I am and drop me. I don't know how to square those stories of others with God's promise never to abandon me; the implication in the stories is that God abandons people for a purpose, then picks them up later. "See? I never left you." Seems like a semantic quibble to me.
People's stories aren't God. Perhaps they really were abandoned for a time. I don't think so. More like a perception of abandonment. There have been times when I wish God had abandoned me; being held to his standard, being held to my promises, is hard. He never has, although sometimes he does feel closer than at other times. I know he's there.
And it's his hand over the mouth of the abyss that enables me to go on. Distraction doesn't help me skate around any more. I'm standing on his hand, or more like quivering and quaking in a heap, and under that hand is nothing. Black. Consuming. But God holds me. He wants me to see the abyss, know it's there and quit trying to put it out of mind. I don't understand, but he's the mechanic. If your Ferrari breaks down, you don't take it to Joe's corner garage, unless Joe just happened to work for Ferrari at some point in his career. You take it to an expert.
God knows my soul. He made it. He knows what he's doing. I can't see farther than the next few minutes, pretty much by training. Never look farther ahead than the next problem, because the one beyond that may be the killer. Maytagged out of life by the combination of big wave and shallow water. Look a few seconds ahead and hope. Hope? Not even that. Except that perhaps even real hope is growing. The abyss isn't so scary when God's hand is over it.