Monday, March 11, 2013
Earlier last week, I received a call from a younger friend who's also a troubled left-leaning pastor near the Big Apple.
I thought he wanted to joust with me about NYC's nutty social engineering mayor whose megalomanical control needs have moved from seat belts and helmets to telling us how large is too large when it comes to soft drinks.
Anyway, he asked, "Does it ever end?"
He was referring to the disappointments, defeats, disillusionments, tests, trials, temptations, and tribulations of living in an increasingly mean, maddening, and miserable world, country, and...
I answered, "No."
Groote aka Kempis wrote a lot about that way back in the late 14th century (Imitation of Christ): "So long as we live in the world, we cannot be without tribulation and temptation."
"Nevertheless," he noted in encouraging radical dependence upon God (cf. Matthew 5:3), "temptations are often very profitable to a man, though they be troublesome and grievous; for in them a man is humbled, and purified, and instructed."
Not even monks can avoid 'em: "There is no order so holy, nor place so secret, where there be not temptations, or adversities."
Getting back to my friend's interrogative and my declarative, "When one temptation or tribulation goeth away, another cometh; and we shall ever have something to suffer, because we have lost the blessing of our first happiness."
Yep, it started in the garden; as we've repeated that original sin of rebelling against what Father knows is/was/remains best for us.
Pointing to the only way to overcome all of that bad stuff to which no one is immune, he counseled, "The beginning of all evil temptations is inconstancy of mind, and small confidence in God."
Throwing the haymaker, he concluded, "We ought not therefore to despair when we are tempted, but so much the more fervently to implore God, that He will vouchsafe to help us in every tribulation...Humble we therefore our souls under the hand of God in all temptation and tribulation, for He will save and exalt the humble in spirit."
Simply, Jesus saves...if we let Him.
Reminding me of reports that I've made to him in recent years that only about 10% of my graduating class in seminary remains in pastoral ministry, he asked how I've survived if it never ends.
I've written some things about surviving it in the past; but, like you, he hasn't read 'em.
But having survived it for around four decades or so, I guess I am something of, uh, an expert on surviving it.
Here's what I've learned about surviving it.
First, intimacy with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the solid rock foundation that overcomes all of the bad stuff in life. Jesus punctuated His sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7) with that good news; echoing the Psalmist: "God inhabits the praises of His people." In other words, if we hang out with Him, we won't get hung up by/on it.
Second, I paid close attention to the course on original sin; and learned to expect next to nothing from most people because most people aren't really into Him as evidenced by their selfishness, control needs, greed, inability to serve unless leading, irascibility, irregularity, and irreconcilability, NYC-mayor-like-megalomania, and on and on and on that leave little room for Christlike traits like selflessness, unconditional favor, mercy, reconcilable intentions, redemptive passions, forgiveness, and other, again, Christlike traits.
Third, while expecting next to nothing from most people who don't even try to overcome the original sin in their DNA, I expect everything from Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as promised throughout Holy Scripture and summarized by Psalm 62.
Finally, I know my speck-inspecting is limited by my log-wearing. I must always be ready and even eager to confess my sins against Him and His, repent from my sins against Him and His, ask for forgiveness from Him and His, and pray and try to be/do better as I receive forgiveness from Him and His.
Simply, Jesus saves...if we let Him.
Survival depends upon God alone.
Yeah, there are some folks who allow Him to use them in saving missions.
They get it/Him.
Praise the Lord for Him/them!
They are the few who can say with the apostle, "It is no longer I who live but is Jesus who lives in and through me."
So, again, survival depends upon God alone.
In short, I have survived it because of increasing intimacy with Him as F/S/HS, expecting nothing from most people, expecting everything from Him, and recognizing my own sins against Him and His that increase my increasing intimacy with Him as F/S/HS to survive the world, country, and...
Blessings and Love!