Conflict. Two viewpoints that oppose one another or contradict. Webster defines it as a state of disharmony.
I’ve been working on this theme for over a week, but didn’t know how to post the thought, which is what my blog was set up for, while I was happily embarked on a photo-a-day dealie. Gotta love when my life illustrates my topic. I needed to bring harmony to what I was doing on two fronts and know that the melding is me.
Everyone around here knows that I love the beach. One day, the conversation of a group of locals turned to memories of their summers on the Gulf Coast. They recalled walking out 1/2 mile into the water and never getting their shorts wet to watch freighters pass by in the channel in front of them. Then one got animated: “Oh – and remember the wire bristle brush you used to have to scrape the tar off your skin with? Oh! Those were the days!!” Everybody burst out laughing with the shared experience. My chin hit the ground. No, wire bristle brushes were what you used to clean the driveway. Not skin. And walking a 1/2 mile out? That’s beyond my comprehension. Nobody merely walked into the water at Newport, much less Dana Point. At a half mile out you were shark bait. Hell, at 50 feet, you’d be knocked flat by the next wave and dumped ingloriously onto the beach before your friends. You’d thank your lucky stars if you still had swim trunks to dump sand out of.
I felt like a fish out of water, and my flabbergasted face showed it. I couldn’t laugh with them or tease them about how that was no beach. Their reality was so far from mine I didn’t know how to recover. They couldn’t figure how anyone could fish in breakers, and I couldn’t figure why anyone would want to in tarry water. I’ve visited Corpus Christie, and while there is some pretty amazing wildlife, it is officially checked off my bucket list. I can move on.
But what’s going on in my mind today is deeper and subtler. It is the conflict between the ideal and the apparent. In spite of the best dreams and plans, I’ve made a lot of mistakes and poor choices which have not gotten me where I intended. My ideal beach is just south of Newport. But the same water and tides which make that cove so beautiful, with some different turns and paths, end up carrying a freighter to Corpus Christie. I am landlocked 3 hours northwest of that. The appearance is that I’m going nowhere fast. Backwater comes to mind.
Two things encouraged me this week. One was an old sermon by Charles Spurgeon that said there is a major conflict between what we are as a result of time and experience and what we were created to be by our Maker. Christ still sees and loves the me that he first made and knows that, with some washing and repairs, I can be that again.
But I know me, too. Or do I? I have callouses built up from experience with walking rough roads. I see the wrinkles of time in the mirror. But I really need to know that the ideal me is still in here and can be again. Or can finally be.
And that’s where the second encouragement came in. This morning’s sermon on Jesus’ healings. The aim today was to renew my faith and give me hope.
If change is really going to occur, I must have faith to reach out to the one who promises – and has the power – to change me and my situation. If I fear his power and position and do not ask, I will not get. If I distrust him completely and do not ask, I will not get. Jesus wants me to step out in faith and ask, expecting that He can and will make me new.
I do not want to be turned down, or worse, laughed at for my presumption in asking. But if I truly have faith that He can make me well, I don’t care if He spits mud in my eyes; if it works, I’m happy.
No man was born a peg-legged, one-eyed pirate. Once he was a beautiful babe in his mother’s arms. And he can come back to her at any time and she will still see that spark of her babe within him. Albeit deep, she will love and nurture him all the same until she brings who he was created to be to the surface. Even as the ruffians deride her efforts with her “little urchin”, others may laugh and deride me that I will never change.
I spoke to a man once whose shocked face has never left my memory. He was confessing (more to himself than me) his struggle with alcohol and drugs. I’ve been around that lifestyle, and struggled with alcohol at times. He did not shock me. But that shocked him. He saw who I was: a clean mother of well-behaved children who not only attended church, but sat further forward than he did. He could not believe that I had any knowledge, much less experience with who he was. He didn’t feel he would ever be anything but the loser he’d become. I didn’t set out to minister to him that day, but I encouraged him that he could stay just as cleaned up as he was that day in church. And that someday, someone else would never believe that he could’ve ever done those things. He just needed to grasp hold of faith that the Savior was real and would restore him.
We are all like that man. No matter my circumstances, my choices, my appearance, God still sees that flicker of who I am inside and who he really intended me to be. He still plans for me to be that. Regardless of the reality of what I look like and how I stand before you, that is only appearance. The true reality is what is inside, that only our Creator can bring out.
Charles Spurgeon wrote: “When our Lord was upon earth, although He is the Prince of the kings of the earth, yet He walked the footpath of weariness and service as the Servant of servants: what wonder is it if His followers, who are princes of the blood, should also be looked down upon as inferior and contemptible persons? The world is upside down….”
Jesus’ appearance conflicted with the reality of who he was and is. I just need the faith to step forward and ask him to make His reality – what He sees in me – true of me, too.
“You do not have, because you do not ask.” (James 4:2)