Monday, May 31, 2010

tripping towards maturity

I had a discussion with friends a few days ago and this question came up: What is the main thing that trips you up time and time again, that keeps you from moving forward and making progress in the direction you want to go? What is the signature weakness (or sin) that you have a hard time overcoming? The honest responses that people offered up, without hesitation, revealed a level of humility and courage that amazed me. These were people who were committed to doing the hard work that maturity requires. Unlike growing older, which happens whether we want to participate in it or not, becoming mature is a voluntary activity. It is a school that not everyone enrolls in, because the assignments are notoriously difficult and the pop exams always on stuff you haven't studied yet.

So, back to our discussion. Some people mentioned pride. One mentioned procrastination. Another listed cynicism. One person said they have a tendency to avoid things. One person suggested that perhaps the place where we find ourselves failing and falling over and over again might in fact be the location of our greatest strength. It (the evil sin factor) tries to sabotage this potential strength at the root and render us impotent in the very area that God means us to be humbly powerful and lovingly effective. Interesting observation.

I admitted that fear is the one I have to watch out for. It will threaten to paralyze me, overwhelm me, steer me off in a totally wrong direction, blur my vision and discernment, and in general, try to take over as the motivation for life's choices. It will try to steal my freedom and undermine my ability to love creatively, largely, and long-lastingly. It will render void my simple and profound ability to trust God in everything.

Having identified this thorny enemy, it is imperative that I ask another question: how do I counteract it? I regularly try to face the things I am afraid of, yes. More importantly, however, I am learning to look at God and let him fill my peripheral vision to the extent that everything else is out of focus. I must never let this unshakable and faithful one out of my sight. His words have to become more trustworthy than my irrational fears. His presence has to be the one I respond to instead of the prickly, panicky shiver that urges me to flee or freeze. His peace has to be the seat that I sit in and will not be intimidated or pushed out of. His unbounded love has to be the geyser that splits open the cage that my small and fearful heart is hiding in.

Jesus, help me not to let any besetting sin handcuff me to stagnancy and complacency. Let me move forward towards maturity and freedom. I want to learn. Help me expand my soul. May I always be found running towards my Lover and Completer.

Hebrews 12: 1-3. Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! (from The Message)

This is a picture from my friends' chalet. Don't trip on stairs as you go, don't drag the garbage up with you.

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