I think the sense of our wants, when withal we have a restlessness and a sort of spiritual impatience under them, and can make a din, because we want Him whom our soul loveth, is that which maketh an open door to Christ: and when we think we are going backward, because we feel deadness, we are going forward; for the more sense the more life, and no sense argueth no life.
–Samuel Rutherford, The Loveliness of Christ
I was sent this quote by a dear friend who’s probably starting to get to know me better than I would like. It really spoke to me.
Any perusal of this blog (especially categories like “Prayer/Meditation“) will produce a myriad of posts by myself lamenting my weakness and failures in light of God’s goodness. This is not my identity–I know–but it certainly feels like my day-to-day reality. And, as the quote spoke to, this hypersensitive sting to my own sin really doesn’t come (first and foremost) from some sense of “expectation” I feel God has for me and my actions. Rather, I feel the existential distance between myself and the one in Whom my Soul is meant to find rest or, as Rutherford puts it, “Him whom our soul loveth”
My soul certainly loveth Him.
This reminds of something I read by author/philosopher/theologian Peter Rollins in his remarkable (and challenging book The Fidelity of Betrayal). He says:
“… it is problematic to think that people who have undergone a conversion have experienced God, while those who have not undergone this rebirth experience as absence of God. Rather, it is only the one who has undergone conversion who experiences the absence of God…This is similar to the fact that it is only the lover who experience the absence of the one she or he loves (i.e., experiencing the beloved as a presence that is to come).”
In other words, in an existential sense, Christians make the best atheists. We feel much more deeply the “a-theism” of our existence in those moments than the most hardened (merely) intellectual atheist. We feel when He is gone. And it’s when we want Him most that we feel that distance most.
And I feel that distance a lot.
At the end of the day, I can honestly say, I love my Christ. I actually do. I love Him so much and can’t stand those things that keep me from him, especially when those things reside deep within my own heart.
And so, for those that read my blog and feel that I’m simply depressed all the time; or they themselves walk away feeling depressed, I’m sorry. Please know that the joy I have in Christ is surely aflame even in my most intense of “Gethsemane” moments. I try and take the grace of God seriously and not let it weigh me down. My Lord has become my salvation and I rejoice in that.
And now, may I encourage all of you to read that quote above once more and go journal your thoughts about it? In fact, why don’t you just put your thoughts and reactions in the comment box below?