“Twenty -four failures, twenty-four tries…” -Switchfoot
The last year and a half have been a time of some significant changes. I have gotten engaged, left music for academia, and as I have previously mentioned Katie and I have started attending a new church. These are the apparent changes, but more remain under the surface and these I believe to be far more substantial. For one, I have been on a spiritual journey having left what was for so many years comfortable for me in exchange for the unknown. In some minor way I am reminded of the scriptures: Abraham was called by God to leave his home and travel to Ur, Moses from Egypt to the promised land and the apostles from Jerusalem to the Gentile nations.
I suppose we may all be called at some time to abandon that which is most familiar to us in order to sojourn to the beyond. Unfortunately, though we may leave our past surroundings toward the call it is often not without baggage. The manner in which we have previously grown creates for us certain paradigms, ways of thinking and acting, sometimes perfunctory patterns and as we venture out we find a collision of spheres: New wine and old wine skins. Thus, the journey is long and arduous with great obstacles. We encounter a battle within ourselves and all of our:
According to biblical tradition, the Israelites essentially walked around in a circle for 40 years because their hearts required immense change; they had to be broken of their former ways of existence and it wasn’t pretty and I guess I feel as though I have been and continue on a similar path.
I have been a child in the spiritual sense for years. I have survived off of only milk.. I have had zeal without knowledge and have thought like a child. But I am trying to move ahead toward the Zion; to put off childish ways and to reason like a man only I continue to crawl on the floor dribbling at the chin.
“There’s twenty-four reasons to admit that I’m wrong, with all my excuses still twenty-four strong…"
In Deuteronomy 2, it is written that God had to humble the hearts of his people during the exhausting exodus to the land of the promise. Through their complaining and nostalgia for Egypt they had to press on, but they had to be transformed in the process and this could be done no other way than through constant failures, which I suppose could bring one to their knees.
I was thinking about all of this when I turned to the book of Hebrews a moment ago. Here is sort of the outline of the epistle: Paul exhorts believers not to neglect the word of God (Ch 2); warns the church about regressing in learning and instead exhorts us to progress from immaturity to solid food (Ch 5 and 6); commands us to abstain from willful sinning which he equates to “trampling on the Son of God”, regarding “profane the blood of Christ”, and “insulting the Spirit of Grace” all of which are to bring judgment (Ch 10:26-31). Furthermore, the apostle calls us to endure (Ch 12) in light of the groundwork that has been laid by our parents in the faith (mentioned in Ch 11). This is then followed by a section on God’s discipline of those he calls children. Struggling against sin and enduring in the faith (against the odds) appear to be the context of the "fatherly discipline."
Tonight I was also thinking about some of my recent conversations with others of the faith. There remains great division within the church and substantive discussions too often confront us with this fact. Thus, as I venture out beyond- as I journey away from what has been comfortable and familiar, I encounter disparities with previous mentors and friends and this is not without some degree of pain. How interesting though that I am also struggling with the disparities within my self and I’d imagine that I am not alone in this. In fact, St. Augustine spends much of his Confession on this very issue. The apostle Paul in similar spirit wrote: “The good I want to do I don’t do and that which I don’t want to do I end up doing.” As I look at my journey I continue to discover my failings, inadequacies, depravity, and in short, the lack of unity within myself. I am a house divided against itself and at times I get pretty weary of encountering this reality. How many crappy things do I have to learn about myself each day and why do I keep failing?
"But I want to be one today, centered in truth…”
I'm glad I kept reading as I found these words towards the end of the letter to the Hebrews:
“No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but healed instead.” Hebrews 12:11-12
One day "the lion will lay with the lamb" (Isaiah 11:6) and the church will be united as the bride of Christ (Rev 19:7) and along the way I suppose I will by his grace, pull my twenty-four pieces together.