I saw a clip of “Southland” on TNT and the training police officer, John Cooper, said this to his rookie officer, Ben Sherman (mild paraphrasing) after he was struggling with his work as a Police Officer and the helplessness of not being able to stop a crime:
“when you get out of the academy, you think everything is black and white, but what you realize is that we live in the gray.”
Some of you may be wondering why lately I have not blogged, or posted anything. There are a few reasons as to why:
1) Western Seminary studies – papers and reading.
2) GCF the Rock! Speaking, bible studies & other ministry preparations.
3) Lots of people suffering and dying around me.
4) Going through a time of introspection and assessment of my character and life.
Anyways, God feels real to me through this time despite sometimes feeling somewhat more distant. Perhaps this is due to sin in my own life, but it may also be due to the loss of different people in my life and seeing people suffer much through cancer and other illnesses. Nothing in Seminary or life prepares one to sit beside someone who has lost their father, or whom is struggling with their faith as they live alone and struggle with cancer and breath through oxygen tanks. You wish you could do more, but you simply can not do anything but endure the pain and suffering with them… it is in these times that one then truly becomes the hands and feet. You don’t just theorize about it, … you have to be in the midst of it… and what I have realized is that it is during those times that when they feel God exceptionally far, actually God is close… because you are made in His image, and you as a believer in Jesus Christ with the counsel of the Holy Spirit are there with them as a tangible display of that grace of God.
To add to that, it also makes one feel awfully helpless and pathetic; it gives you a dose of reality of man’s finiteness and the suddenness of death and loss. You are nothing special, and your life can be brief… like a flame in the wind… but this is where God is so amazing because He blesses us with the privilege of life and being physical manifestations of His grace, love and mercy. The question to ask oneself with this knowledge is how do we choose to live it out then?
I confess I am a deeply flawed and imperfect person. As much as I desire to be that fine example of a Christian man and leader, whom glorifies Jesus Christ in my life and conduct, I realize I fall short daily… actually pretty much at all times. Luther in his 1st of “The Ninety-five Theses” nailed to the door of Wittenberg cathedral begins with this:
“Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ…willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”
This isn’t saying that life is so depressing, or hopeless, and that we can not make progress as Christians, but that it is through repentance that we walk and live our Christian lives.
Did you ever wonder what Jesus, Paul or other men in the Word were like? What we see in the Word are glimpses/moments of amazing things happening, but what we forget and we often miss out is that there is life being lived by these men between these moments (granted we do see some). They may be defined or known for those moments, but they didn’t happen without a life that was lived consistently, faithfully and in prayer; this is the space between the sentences and periods. We often fail to notice/remember this; we only see the good things, but we often miss the struggles, the doubts, the difficulties, the sufferings, and the lonely moments that they must’ve endured.
It is a result of my life and the death and suffering around me that I believe God is taking me through a season of dryness and rough surfaces. Whatever obstructions and pride I have in my life seems to be one-at-a-time crushed by the work of God through my life. As each wall I have placed and bumps I have created show up, they are crushed by this gigantic roller of His molding and it is very painful and yet I welcome it because I know that He is doing a wonderful work.
As I reflect on truths people are speaking into my life, I am so thankful, hurt, burdened, sad, and joyful. It is all mixed together as I read what some of my closest friends are sharing about me as a man, Christian, friend, and leader. I see what lies ahead as much work, but how much work? How much is it that I can truly adjust, and how much of it is what I must accept as my flawed/broken/imperfection that will remain with me in this life?
We live life in some things black and white, but more often it is in the gray. I agree with this. Not everything is clear cut, and there are a lot of unknowns in our lives. Not everything is so simple as black and white… that’d often trivialize our lives and the lives of others we seek to love and walk with. We can not do that. Rather, I think we need to be even deeper in the grace of Jesus Christ, and to learn to embrace others with that love and grace as well.