Tuesday, March 1, 2016

"What happens now--when all I've laid is torn down? What happens next--when all of You is all that's left?" --Nichole Nordeman

No one in scripture infuriates me the way Paul does.  I like to think we would have a volatile interesting friendship--one that starts with heated arguments on the quad and ends with us drinking coffee and casually disagreeing in Starbucks.  Maybe that's a flippant way to discuss one of the more important players in the New Testament.  Or maybe it's an honest way of telling you Paul would make my blood pressure skyrocket, but he'd also challenge me to analyze my own motivations or the things at work in my life for evidence of Christ.

The whole "to die is gain" thing is a perpetual issue (Phil. 1:21).  There are days I wish I knew if that particular resolution was a constant in the missionary's life, or if that day he really felt joy in either life here or life with Christ and struggled with that same sense of joy later.  (Even later that day.  Like...the minute after he said it.  You know, the way I would.)

I just want to have those conversations with him.  I want to know if that Damascus conversion was the line in the sand that eradicated his ability to be half-hearted in any endeavor. 

I guess it's probably more likely Paul was the type of guy to jump in with two feet.  He was wholly devoted to persecution and then wholly devoted to Christ.  So maybe he and I don't have much in common after all.

Which is why 2 Corinthians 12:15 is this soul-crushing, I-can't-breathe sort of admission for someone like me.  Paul says, "And I will gladly spend and be spent for you, though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved."  Hello nails.  This is chalkboard.  Get to know one another.

Maybe it's embarrassing to admit, but building was often sometimes for the purpose of doing something meaningful--not for Christ or others, but for myself.  I just want to do something that matters--behind the scenes or whatever--but meaningful work.

I guess the real issue is where I weigh meaningful, because when Paul gets to that part about spending for people and loving them abundantly and those fools not returning the favor?  Yeah.  I'm out because HELLO...I NEED SOME FRIEND SUPPORT OR SOMETHING.  Who wants to give and give without having it returned?  And even worse, who wants to give and give only to see these people love the exact opposite of what you're working toward?

This is where spiritual warfare is hard.  Actually, you know what?  Forget warfare for a second.  This is where "love your neighbor" blows--not because it's supposed to be easy, this love business, but because there's supposed to be some sort of reciprocation, right?

But sometimes there isn't.  A very renown doctor was onto something when he said, "Except when you don't.  Because, sometimes, you won't." Dr. Seuss goes on to talk about the bang-ups and hang-ups that are an inevitable part of life, or, potentially, spending for others and realizing you aren't loved more for your efforts.  Or maybe you aren't loved as much as you wanted to be for your efforts.  Or maybe you aren't loved at all. 

Or maybe you were involved for entirely the wrong reasons.

And when all of that is completely demolished and you're sitting on half a chunk of concrete wondering what the hell happened, you'll have plenty of time to weigh the enoughness of Christ.

Turns out He isn't redirected by weeds, dust and demolition.