“When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it; the light of my face was precious to them (Job 29:24).”
I think six months of winter is a little much, even for the Finns. Finally, today I have seen the possibility that it might be over.
As I walked by the largest lake in the country around noon, I could see pools of water developing. They were intermingled with the ever -weakening ice and the last vestiges of the white snow that has dominated the landscape here for months.
I groaned inwardly as I walked through the harbor in my town. Having any winter the last week of April made me long for something different.
I also sighed inside because the icy lake, though beginning to turn liquid again, reminded me of my own soul. After a lifetime I have grown tired of the winter in my being and at last have begun to see my frozen spirit begin to melt.
These feelings come on a day that it seems major issues in my life all confronted me at once. This tends to happen when a computer is used. Too much communication, or perhaps not enough real life.
Recently a pastor told me that I was just “going through a season in my life”. When it was obvious to him that I was getting ready to object, that nothing was going to change, he added,”Oh, this doesn’t mean necesarrily that your circumstances will change, but…”.
I don’t remember the rest. I probably can’t recall because I was stuck on the unsettling truth of his first clause just sinking in.
Today I am fed up with myself. Not only that, I am disillusioned with the world I live in every day, including the features of modern-day Christianity.
I guess I’m not alone in that. Andrew Sullivan just wrote a piece in Newsweek advising Christians to follow Jesus and not the church.
No news there. The letters to the editor in the following edition both praised him and criticized him for his article.
I guess I am feeling a bit singled out today though, perhaps by Jesus Himself. I ask,”What I want to know, Lord, is why I have to keep paying the price for my sinfulness and other believers I know seem to be getting a pass?”
I know for a fact that they struggle with the same stuff I do: temper, sexual temptation, greed, envy, self indulgence…the list could go on and have made the same mistakes as a result of failing in these areas. Yet, these folks seem to be carrying on, their smiling Facebook images glaring out at me each day.
I, on the other hand, have to pay the piper for my lifetime of not really following Jesus all the way. Without going into detail in public print, let’s just say I have a bunch of messes, mostly originating from the biggest cesspool in my life: my heart.
I cry with the Psalmist,”My problems are going from bad to worse (Psalm 25:17a).” (He adds pleadingly,”Save me from them all!”)
These same people who are getting a free ride on their sins, from my point of view anyway, are not shy about telling the rest of us what to do about ours. (I don’t know, even as I write that it seems a little unfair. I do the same thing-trying to play God in the lives of others.)
What I wonder is if my earthly life can still be redeemed. I am beginning to feel like one of my favorite fictional characters, Dr. Gregory House-the king of curmdgeons.
House consistently displays his flaws from week-to-week in the TV drama that bears his name. Into his eighth and final season, it doesn’t appear as if the not-so-good doctor will ever change.
He is left with only one loving aspect it seems. This was revealed recently as he dealt with one of his colleagues, Dr. Robert Chase.
Chase is about to tell a nun who had previously struggled with her beliefs that her renewed faith and desire to return to the convent has to do with a chemical reaction to her brain from a near-death experience, not a spiritual awakening. Chase has fallen in love with the nun and wants to keep her.
But he has his own issues, which House sees right through. It’s not that House is particularly religious -far from it. He just realizes Chase would be making a big mistake, trying to bring the woman back to him for all the wrong reasons.
For one, Chase himself has just had a near death experience. A few weeks before a patient nearly stabbed him to death.
Chase defends his rationale and attacks House for his intent to bring him to his senses:
Chase (to House): She’s throwing away her life because of blind faith.
House: So are you! She’s found something she wants to build her life around. It’s a total illusion, but apparently she’ll take a little ignorance with her bliss. And you want to take that away?
Chase: How many times have you thrown the truth in people’s faces?
House: Because it’s the truth, not because we’re gonna live happily ever after.
House: Either your relationship just blows up like every other non-magical romance, or she stays with you but blames you for stripping all the meaning out of her life.
Chase: (angrily) This has nothing to do with the truth. You don’t like that I’m reassessing my life, that I want to change it, that I can.
House: Anyone can screw up a life. I never said that wasn’t possible.
Chase: You’re incapable of human connection, so you want everyone to be like you.
House: If I wanted you to be like me… I would be urging you to make a stupid, stubborn decision that blows up your life and leaves you lonely and miserable. You reassess your life when you’ve made mistakes. You didn’t. You just got stabbed.
Thus, the only goodness that can come from House after a life of curmdugeonliness is to tell someone else,”Don’t be like me!”.
I am hoping my life isn’t so far gone that I end up being some old guy who tells young whippernsnappers,”Do as I say, not as I do (or did).”
What I discovered though as I walked through the harbor today is that what really matters is what Jesus Christ thinks of me, not what others, even those closest to me, think. More than that, what He thinks of me is more crucial than what I think of myself.
What I know is that Jesus died to give me grace. He paid the price for my sins, past, present and future.
Can this aging leopard change his spots at this date (Jeremiah 13:23). I don’t know, but if any transformation is going to come about, it is going to happen through completely turning my life over to the care of Jesus.
So instead of looking at my dirty smudges, and the frowns of those around me who don’t care much for them either, I think it’s best I just look into the face of Christ. There I’ll get a smile.