Mr. Standfast

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

July 08, 2004

In Which I Try to Correct A Mistaken Impression; or, Smiley Faces All Around!

Well, I have reason to believe that yesterday's post left an unintended impression! Come to think of it, that's not at all uncommon with me. Ha! You see, I kind of write these things on the fly. They're not exactly well-considered, carefully planned, pains-takingly crafted little verbal gems. [You may have noticed that!] What I'm trying to do here, very often anyway, is pour out my thoughts in a relatively unedited fashion. I want it to have that in common with a personal journal. Some might call it, ungenerously, spew! [insert smiley face here]

Anyway, I think I left an unintended impression. I think the post struck people as being, well, negative. Maybe even a little depressing. After all, wasn't it entitled, "Life is Hard." Rebecca, who is nothing if not rational, pointed out that "chastisement" should give us hope. And Lucy, well she just laughed at it all. I imagine her saying, "For crying out loud, Bob, it's not THAT bad. Get a life!" She points out that "wilderness experiences" are God's way of training us. [Kind of like an Outward Bound weekend that lasts your whole life!] Lucy also says:
But it's important not to forget that that is not all there is to it. When out of the desert there is much to celebrate as God delivers his people, and uses them to his glory.
And both of these tactful and constructive ladies are right on the money. I know from frequent reading of Rebecca's blog that she is a very teacherly type, and I suspect that Lucy is too. They are able to discern the "lesson" in the storm. And you know what I always say: "Thank God for teachers!"

As for me, maybe I'm less of a teacher than an observer. And yesterday I was not trying to present the whole picture, but doodling around with a few of the darker colors in the palette. Trying to say to myself, Hey, Bobbo, remember this, will you? People really do have a hard time in this life, very often. Even believers.

I said yesterday I wanted to get back to some fundamental truths, and that "Life is hard," is one of them. Of course I didn't intend to leave it at that. I didn't intend to leave the impression that faith doesn't matter, or that joy is only for the next life. And in part I was simply reacting to the wealth & health gospel I've heard from some quarters. But, hey, another fundamental truth is grace. I was getting to that all along, folks.

But not today. I've already used up my blogging time this morning. What I thought I'd do here at the end is leave you with some lines from the poet William Blake. I've got a hunch they're relevant here, and anyway I've been meaning to insert them in my blog for months, and this looks like as good a time as any. I first heard these lines in a song by Van Morrison called, "The Price of Experience." Just something for your consideration:

What is the price of Experience? Do men buy it for a song?
Or wisdom for a dance in the street? No, it is bought with the price
Of all that a man hath, his house, his wife, his children.
Wisdom is sold in the desolate market where none come to buy,
And in the wither'd field where the farmer plows for bread in vain.

It is an easy thing to triumph in the summer's sun
And in the vintage and to sing on the wagon loaded with corn.
It is an easy thing to talk of patience to the afflicted,
To speak the laws of prudence to the houseless wanderer,
To listen to the hungry raven's cry in wintry season
When the red blood is fill'd with wine and with the marrow of lambs.

It is an easy thing to laugh at wrathful elements,
To hear the dog howl at the wintry door, the ox in the slaughter house moan;
To see a god on every wind and a blessing on every blast....

Well, it goes on like that for a while longer. Kind of a Blakean Jeremiad. What I was going to say is, even Biblical comfort rings hollow sometimes when you're in the midst of the "wintry blast." Not that it IS hollow, only that it's hard for us to receive in those times. Because of how we are (you know how we are!).

But this portion of Blake's poem, which by the way is quite long and is called The Four Zoas, ends with these words:

How is it we have walk'd through fires and yet are not consum'd?
How is it that all things are chang'd, even as in ancient times?

Grace is how. Grace. God is in the restoration business. His grace is wide, His grace is strong. More on this, the up-side, next time.


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