Dabar [theme]

He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou find refuge: His truth is a shield and buckler
Psalms 91:4

Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Life's Tragedy; Freedom Lost Part 3

As these years have unfolded I have sought for an identity, my identity, that which makes me distinct, valuable, significant. The years reveal the vain attempts through varieties of expressions the efforts towards that goal. Attaining purpose and meaning in life has been fraught with failure. Significance has been illusive. " Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher; “ Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun?" In my role as a man, a husband, a father, a leader, an employee in whatever situation and circumstance in which I have attempted and strived to attain significance the underlying and defining force has been one of flawed, misguided and fruitless endeavour.

In this personal narrative I call life it should be of critical importance that throughout these endeavors I remain faultless, but this is not so. All of the failures could be attributed to the injustice and betrayal of others and because of this I would like to be absolved from responsibility and accountability for my flawed attempts at significance, however that would be untrue. Further, since none of life's failures are my fault as recourse I have every right to avenge myself upon those who have wronged me, this would constitute a greater injustice than any injustice done to me. This attitude would place me in context with the world around me, where I can claim my pride has been grievously wounded. I am ensnared in a blame game which neglects my responsibilty for actions and decisions. It is soo wrong to turn a blind eye to my own plight in life. I would be trapped by my own disillusioned existence and the inability to right the wrongs done to me. Freedom is lost and I would become a slave to myself, shackled by bitterness, handcuffed by pride, whipped by injustice. But I am not at fault.

"The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up."

Soren Kieregaard defined sin in a way which removes the arbitrary thinking that we are breaking divine rules by stating; "Sin is: in despair not wanting to be oneself before God ..." Freedom, faith and truth are then founded on the self being what it was intended to be before God and acceptance of that person whom God created as a valued and significant part of His creation. Sin becomes the replacement of that identity with an identity based on significance apart from service to God and worship of Him. It is making the things of this world the ultimate reality of my existence. "It is seeking to establish a sense of self by making something else more central to your significance, purpose, and happiness than your relationship with God." In essence we deify whatever gives us a sense of self-worth.

In this lies the great tragedy, for the things that we deify will fail to provide the significance, value and worth that is left vacant by the absence of God. Augustine said, if there is a God who created you, then the deepest chambers of your soul simply cannot be filled up by anything less. In an attempt to 'justify our existence' and thwart the fears of being just 'a bum' we throw ourselves into obtaining power, seeking approval, relationships, attaining social status, etc. Simone Weil summarized life with these words, "One has only the choice between God and idolatry," "If one denies God ... one is worshipping some things of this world in the belief that one sees them only as such, but in fact, though unknown to oneself imagining the attributes of Divinity in them."

As I have attempted to find my identity in the roles life, decisions and opportunity have provided for me the anxiety caused by the fear of failure has created insecurity. I no longer wish to venture out, to take risk, to be challenged. As my identity has been lost through the failings and betrayals of others I have become resentful and bitter, as my identity has been lost through my own failings and shortcomings I have come to despise and hate myself.

Truly I wish that I could say that I have victory over sin, that the church was the totally redeemed expression of God's blessing, that Christians were not those who sought their identity in anything other than their worship and service to God, that Christians were those who stood apart from the world in their devotion and acceptance of others, truly I wish that I could say that I had victory over my sense of failure and defeat and, that I could see and find my significance in serving God and in worship of Him. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—

O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
What must die in a man?
"Christ says 'Give me ALL'. I want you ... I have not come to torture your natural self ... I will give you a new self instead."
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."
"The almost impossibly hard thing is to hand over your whole self to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are trying to do instead. For what we are trying to do is remain 'ourselves' - our personal happiness centered on money or pleasure or ambition - and hoping, despite this, to behave honestly and chastely and humbly. And that is what Christ warned us you cannot do ... I must be plowed up and resown."

My true significance, value, worth, security and affirmation can only be found in the Author of Glory and Love. Jesus is the only Lord and Master Who as I have received Him will fulfill me completely and as I fail Him will forgive me eternally.

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