Tuesday, February 09, 2010
If your days are a sort of endless dance past happy meadows and blissful mountaintops, then you may not appreciate this post. Don’t bother reading any further unless you’re looking for reasons to pray. But if you’re acquainted with turmoil, if a frequent dance partner through your days is frustration, then you’ll get it.
I’m writing about dung. That’s right—dung—and days that are full of it. The apostle Paul knew all about those kinds of days, and I do too.
What do I mean? Well, let me give you some examples. When you look back on all the plans you had for life and you think sadly, “What the heck happened?” that’s a dung day. Or if you have a day or two when your educational path seems wasted or useless, especially if you went past high school and into college, then that’s a dung day. Or maybe you consider the long ago favor of your childhood or the standing you once enjoyed in your community, and, in light of present difficulties, you wonder, “Where did I go wrong?” then that’s a dung day. Or perhaps your memory loads up a bygone time when you really had it goin’ on, you were a mover and a shaker, a power-broker, but now you feel like you’ve been shoved off the radar screen of life. As you think about your comparatively meaningless existence, well, that’s a dung day.
Or, as a friend likes to say in her best Scottish brogue, a day when “It’s all crrrrrrap.”
Are you with me? Now let’s put it into a biblical perspective.
If you’ve received Jesus, if you’re a Christian, then God thinks He has made you a new person—crucified you to this world, made you an alien-new-creation in it, and given you a whole new set of likes and dislikes. And He didn’t call you on the phone and ask for your permission, or write you an email explaining it all and ask you to respond favorably before He went and did what He did; He simply did it. Call it one of those omnipotent power plays He’s famous for.
Mostly we’re thankful He did what He did, saving us and all. But on days when things don’t add up, when our career path looks like a Dow Jones Industrials graph summarizing 2008, or when we don’t like our present situation in the least, then that’s the dung that proves we’re made for something else—knowing Jesus. I’m not kidding.
Here. Have a look at what Paul wrote:
7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish (literally “dung”), that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7-11, italics mine.)
Chances are good that you’re already having days of deep longing or turmoil. The god-given purpose—the target—of those longings is not so that things finally go the way “they should” and your life works the way you thought it would. No. God has set you up and is using the dung of your days to give you something way better. You’re longing for Him now. Feel it?
What you want is Him. Have you figured it out and told Him? Wanting Him is the highest and best wanting because there is nothing higher or better—and wanting and knowing Him will make you free from the far lower wantings and knowings that strangle the sons of God. Like wanting better stuff and knowing who’ll win the NCAA finals.
Maybe right now you’re entirely lost in the dung—you can’t see anything else and you’re sick of it. I know what that’s like. But it’s a sort of blindness and sickness that serves the purpose of making your inner eyes, what Paul called the eyes of your heart, open up and become the useful and reliable things they’re intended to be.
(I wrote this a while back, but felt prompted to post it again today.)