Thursday, June 15, 2006

Rubber meets the road

Having gotten that last silly post out of my system, I've been thinking about being a Christian where the rubber meets the road.

You see, deep down, I'm a mystic. In a Christian context, some people might think that I am more of a theologian, but the reality is that me spouting theology is the way I cope with my mystical encounters with God. Theological musings are the way I communicate to others the mystical lessons I learn as God invades my personal space and shows me himself. (For those wondering, the definition of mystic is: "having an import not apparent to the senses nor obvious to the intelligence; beyond ordinary understanding". It's not magic. It's a delving into something beyond normal understanding.)

Interestingly enough, my desire for theological insight started with an intense mystical experience that happened when I was a teenager. Imagine my surprise when I found the opposite was often true - great theologians (Aquinas among them) stopped doing theology in response to a mystical experience. Thomas said that his incredibly influential work, "Suma Theologica", was "mere straw" compared to the reality of God he experienced during a mystical encounter one day during mass. He left his work unfinished, and never wrote again.

Similarly, I wonder how much of my theolgical wanderings (and wonderings) are mere straw. I mean, since when has my post on my Many Colored Days fed the poor? When have my musings on the wrong kind of forgiveness changed lives? Has the fact that I consider myself post-conservative ever caused anyone to feel welcomed in love? I doubt it.

So where does the rubber meet the road? Where does my personal quest to know God lead me to a place where I follow in Christ's footsteps? When does my love of God lead me to a place where I serve in such a capacity that an encounter with me also means an encounter with the very face of God? Not that I would be God, but that I want what He wants so much that I give all I have to be the person who makes God real to others. In my most mystical times with God, I want to bankrupt myself, I literally want to rupture myself to get what God wants. I don't want it so that I can give it to God as a gift, but I want to get what God wants because I want it to. I don't want it selfishly, as if I'm trying to steal from God, but I want precisely because it is the best possible thing to want.

Is it possible for me, a mere man, to convey the presence of the real God? Is it possible for me to follow in the footsteps of my savior, and in the process become a person who is able to point to the infinte God of love? Is it possible for me to ever have my personal experience with salvation meet with the needs of others in such a way that it changes their lives, too? Can the rubber ever meet the road? Can where I've gotten ever get anyone else anywhere?

I look at people, I hear and understand their fears. I watch them as they get happy and sad. I know that if they could just understand what I understand, things would be different. But I don't know how to do it. In all of my inward groaning to show others the narrow way, I struggle with how to make what I know and feel and exerience mean anything to someone else. I look at the prophets and Christ, and the disciples, and I come to the conclusion that even if you have a message directly from God, or are even God himself, people will misunderstand the message. They'll choose to stay who they are and where they are. They'll reject the message to live in the same place they've always been. Instead of seizing the opportunity to start over, they'll choose to stay paralyzed in the despair of their life, hoping something else will heal their wounds.

People go through life, wonder what could have been, wondering why their heart got broken, hoping that if certain things would happen just a certain way, then they'll be saved from the groping after meaning they experience every day. I know this feeling. I've lived this feeling. I know where they are. I've experienced dark times. I'm intimately familiar. But I also know that hoping in chances that will never come is a life of despair. It is the sickness unto death. Real hope comes from another place. I've lived that hope, too. But I don't know how to bring people to understand it. I don't know how to make discples, either under my own power, or with the power of the spirit. Even Christ didn't alter the world. Despair still looks us all in the face even though He was the ultimate answer to despair.

One life at a time. That's what I tell myself. One life at a time. People are driven into despair one life at a time. They kill the part of themselves that make them feel, because it hurts too bad. It happens not because the world reached out and crushed them, but because a person wounded them so deeply they don't think they'll ever feel right again. It happens one life at a time. Just like finding salvation. It happens one life at a time. One life at a time, people discover how having Many Colored Days changes everything. It happens not because Christ came once and for all, but because he comes to each one of us, and hopes we'll give him a chance. It happens one life at a time.

I suppose, even being the Christian mystic that I am, I'm still a man in need of a savior. I'm still a person in need of hope. Hope that I don't get crushed with despair over the task of showing the narrow way. Hope that my life is not only better for me, but makes a difference to others. Hope that the rubber will meet the road.

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