Thursday, July 27, 2006


Resurrecting the Wrong Dog

I wrote a while back about the "Junkyard Dog" that lives within me. God muzzled him a while back, but I have found other ways to accomplish the same self-destructive task.

It's a losing battle, finding a way halfway between the ruination of God and the ruination of sin. God turns a life upside down, the world is confusing, painful. I don't want to go there. If I wanted to feel I'd not have blocked emotion when I was a kid.

God is, however, a real artist. Not surprising when you consider what else he has made. He made the perfect fuzzy little hairs that so delicately decorate the inside of a mariposa lily in spring, colors and shapes balanced just so to bring delight to a seeking mountain biker who chooses to stop for flowers. Is it any more of a surprise that his plan for my life is just as elegantly and improbably constructed, event on event, idea on idea? I think I'm on the cutting edge, and he's waiting for my consciousness to catch up with the ideas.

Last night the resurrected Junkyard Dog went after both of us. Me, for the temerity implied in addressing God and asking for help. There are all kinds of things wrong with this idea from the rational point of view: who invited any foreign power into the inmost reaches of one's most guarded soul? Well, someone who's desperate will do so, but I have this problem with kindness. God has dealt with me only in kindness and I reward him by running.

You'd think this whole Junkyard Dog self-judgment issue would be peripheral to the process of making a follower of Jesus out of a sinner. You'd furthermore think that emotion was even more non-essential. But I was gonna be damned before I'd move off my own ideas before I was convinced they were wrong, and that's where God met me. Kindly giving me all these crazy ideas as fast as I asked.

So, I got it for being a sucker. God isn't kind. No one is kind. Go back into your shell. Grrrr. Snap, snap of sharp teeth, harrying. I'm slow but eventually get the message. I asked God for help with this mess, and ol' Junky promptly went after the God of the Universe. "You stay the hell out of this." Gotta give him points for being dedicated to guardianship. The problem is he doesn't know when to quit. Threats are threats and no negotiation is allowed, and self-judgment drives me from God. Seeking balance.

It's interesting that God didn't get angry, as my repeated implications of nefarious activity in my life might have produced in another. He knows that what's really going on is the desperate hope of a very scared child who has always had to fight for room in which to breathe. I'll even fight God for that. Too scared to hope that anything good could be real, too badly hurt to want to be hurt again, so kill off the hope and drive God away so that His offers of hope don't tempt me away from safety.

God has already offered the hope. It's written on the Cross in the blood of Jesus. There's God's idea of my value. Is he going to go to all that effort to reanimate me... and then force my inner world to conform to my parents' idea of a perfect world? No. He'll show me his perfect world, which is a very strange place compared to our normality.

It's a place where the individual soul is cherished, protected, guarded, nourished and allowed to flower as it will. What is God's will for my life? To allow him to live with me, and then see where the two of us end up. When I first proposed this idea a couple of years ago I thought it was daringly outre. Now I know it's routine, and the reason it looks outre is that so few people experience real intimacy with God. I have a much better understanding of this fear now. Being desperate a few years ago, I was willing to cozy up to God until I found out exactly Who I was getting close to. It turns out I was doing exactly the right thing, if for the wrong reason.

Desperation doesn't make for friendship. God wants me to move beyond desperation. This means facing myself and making real choices, instead of just waiting until all the alternatives disappear, and then taking the one path that's left. Emotion is an essential part of the decision-making process, as is open internal debate. I can't have either of those without getting the Junkyard Dog under control.

He has a long history, and has been highly effective in keeping me safe. I've avoided many big mistakes through Junky's automatic actions. I've learned to live with him, and I know where the threshold of judgment is. I don't stray over that border. Well, I didn't.

Then God started introducing me to himself. This is a meeting unlike any other I've had. He calls to me and it's irresistible. Like rain in the desert, like sun on a flower, like air to a bird's song. Life isn't complete without him, which is why the last year or so has been the deadest on record for me. Oh, yes, God can be resisted, because for all the false advertising, he's not a tyrant. He waits, whispering. Can you imagine the patience? Sitting out there in the hot sand as I thrash around, doing everything but what would solve the problem, bucking, cursing, laying waste the area around me, and he... waits. Invites. It's simply unimaginable, but it is nonetheless real.

I can imagine Paul on the road. He's steamed. He's going to get rid of these pesky Christians for good and all. They are an offence to his Jewish sensibilities. I wonder why God chose to appear to him as he did. Bam. Paul's blind. That would get my attention. But rather than physical blindness, God chose to work through a weak and battered psyche that was exactly the wrong type for the place I grew up. Psychologic blindness, that engendered a kind of sensitivity. For the Junkyard Dog to know when to act, he has to be exquisitely aware of what's going on around him. What a weird way to live. God knows the way to reach us.

Amen and amen. I feel you, man.

Perhaps this is part of what Paul had in mind when he told Timothy to "Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses."

Fight on, my brother.
Keep going, Larry. We can't outrun our Big Dad.
I love animals, but maybe we need to euthanize that "junkyard dog." :-)
I agree with Karen. You know back here in the midwest we take those kid of dogs "hunting." But the thing is only one of us comes back.

I didn't make it out to LA this year for the Mosaic conference. I had too many things going on. I missed having our annual get together! There is something reallyu cool about sitting in a Greek restaurant with a guy in a kilt.

Jack Fox
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