Once in a great while, like an eclipse, we catch a glimpse of the two opposing realities that are so incredibly present in our lives…light and darkness. When we do encounter this weighty reality, it’s tempting to just look away because it is all so complicated and untouchable, and – let’s be honest – unfixable. It’s no fun to see darkness punching our faces every time we try to live in the light. But this is the world we live in. The one inside our own skin.
Since darkness is such a pesky companion and light is so elusive, we often ignore the messy implications they inject into our lives. I’ll share one of my strategies. It’s pretty good I have to admit. Are you ready for the sheer brilliance of it? Here it is.
I successfully distract myself from what really matters. Almost all the time. If self-sustaining distraction were a spiritual gift I’d be set in all spiritual matters. On an average day I fill my mind with all the tasks I have decided need to get done. They probably are not even close to being in the “need” category but if I decide that they are then I have that much more ammunition in my distraction arsenal.
I then proceed to the next level of my strategy.
This is an especially effective one because there is nothing so mentally and emotionally consuming as anxiety. I don’t have any problems finding things to worry about. I can worry about my relationships, my two tiny kids, my sore feet, my Bay Area-sized rent that I’m blessed with, my fading memory, when I’m going to have time to run all my meaningless errands or clean my already-clean house, when a Chick-Fil-A will finally be built near my house, or how I’m going to get through the next hour. As you can see, this strategy is all that I need to successfully veer away from all things truly important.
You may have different tactics, but all of us share the same war—the one where we fight against the blinding reality of the stuff that makes us who we are…
Divinity and sin.
Love and hate.
Beauty and ugliness.
Joy and pain.
Wholeness and brokenness.
Light and dark.
What do we do with all of this? The truth is that many of us cannot bear the weight of such eternal things under the fragility of our humanity. It’s as if we are trying to protect ourselves from it while all this time God is the One protecting us. He is the One who made us, and I would venture to say that one human heart is far more complicated than the entire span of the universe.
If you’re anything like me, you have seen how gently persistent God is in revealing who He is to us as He reveals who we are to ourselves. As He does this, He heals us, convicts us, grows us, and defines us. I have to confess though – I find this work of redemption unbearably slow. I easily grow tired of my empty promises and inability to let go of the darkness I run to. As a result I spend much of my time looking away from my sin and divinity, and instead look at the unimportant minutia that fills the spaces in between them.
There are no easy “how-to’s” when it comes to the work of redemption in our lives. There is no standardized answer. But there is this constant truth. We can’t seem to pry off this nagging sensation that redemption is not only possible, but that it’s the only way. At the same time we struggle to feel we deserve it, that we deserve God. He says otherwise. God has torn the iron curtain that separates the human heart from the divine One, and He beckons us forth. He has opened His arms to our messy humanness and called us His sons and daughters. We no longer the prodigals, Him no longer unreachable.
His work in our lives may feel unbearably slow sometimes, but imagine who we would be without Him. Could we live with that reality instead?