Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Before we can pray, "Lord, Thy Kingdom come," we must be willing to pray, "My Kingdom go." ~Alan Redpath

If there’s to be any drama in the house these days, I have to invent it. I never realized just how much Josiah was the life of the party.

Sometimes heroes fade into the past, not only in history, but also in my mind. Once upon a time, when the first flush of vision struck me, and when I was still wrestling with trying to make sense of it, I read every book about inner city missions I could find. As the vision matured in my teens, latching onto orphans and orphanages, I embraced singleness whole-heartedly and gathered biographies of Gladys Alward and Amy Carmichael. Slowly, time and circumstance and conviction eroded away the larger parts of those dreams, but a few of the books remain on my shelf. Lydia had been reading Amy’s biography, reminding me of anecdotes and events. And I have to confess, blushing as I do, that I think she might have been better balanced had she married. Still, every one of us has feet of clay. And the Lord used her work in a special way.

The story that struck me most was her account of one of her girls, young and simple, who gave her theological rendering of Satan’s fall. “In the beginning,” began Leela in unctuous tones, ‘the bad devil was good. He was an angel. He lived in heaven. One day all the angels came to sing to God. Then the devil was angry. He got angrier and angrier. He was very rude to God.” Here Leela seemed to freeze all over, and her voice sounded quite deep and awful. Irreverence was far from her intention. “That bad, bad devil said, ‘I won’t stand before God’s chair anymore, and I won’t sing to God anymore. I want to sit in God’s chair, and I want God to sing to me!’” There was a perfectly horrified pause, as the enormity of the transgression became evident. “So God took him and tumbled him down out of heaven and he was turned into the bad devil.” (A Chance to Die, pg. 192)

And there we have it. That simple declaration of the heart of idolatry. And a description that does, I am afraid, all to often fit me. Because even as I wrestled with dreams of inner city missions, I wanted to sit in God’s chair. And as I embraced singleness, I wanted God to sing to me. I wanted to do things my way and in my time instead of simply worshiping God. As I was created to do.

Tonight I sit and look back on the years of frustration and confusion, of wrestling and weeping, unable to really understand what are the passions in my heart and what must be done with them. All the moments that pierced me, the nights of insanity, the days of longing. The opportunities that were still-born, the years when nothing happened and the painful chiseling and reshaping. They weren’t meant to uproot the desires to help the orphan or to serve the poor or to save the perishing. They were meant to uproot uglier things that grew alongside those purer desires. Still do. Self-reliance. Impatience. Rejection of the mundane. Discontentment. Selfishness.

How often must I be brought to the place of repentance for my lack of trust? As often as I try to ascend the throne and dispense justice.

No comments: