Monday, June 6, 2011

Joy Beyond Comparison

“All must test their own work; then that work, rather than their neighbor’s work, will become a cause for pride. For all must carry their own loads.”

~Galatians 6:4-5 (NRSV).

Maybe we remember a time in our pasts when we seemed oblivious to what others were getting and what we weren’t getting. There was no envy in sight, no comparisons made, just joy for life’s sake.

That was then; this is now. Today’s reality is perhaps a lot different. We struggle like it seems we used to; that golden season of joy in the Lord, long gone.

In some ways we can thank God that we even had this sense of fantastic rebirth where nothing seemed beyond us. We served with a heady delight for the pure pleasure and privilege of serving.

Life When the Ground Comes

For all highfalutin experience in the spiritual life there comes a grounding, eventually.

The presence of inbound glorified grace, rarefied and magnified in our beings, typically has a use-by date. God will not continue to bless us in this effortless joy because it doesn’t take us on into maturity.

At some point, when the ground comes, and we’re ‘landed’ back into life, a sudden thud it can be to us that abruptly life has become difficult again. We ask, “Have we become unsaved? Surely I was saved from all this difficulty; from the wrangling, underpinning flesh I once battled with.”

God is not pulling the carpet from under our spiritual feet; the Lord must merely bring us on in a relational journey based in truth. The Christian life is not some fairy tale existence. It is, rather, conversion to the only true life. This is a life where we agree to live boldly upon the will of God alone.

That is, of itself, a tough and shivering prospect for the uninitiated.

Cosmically Alone with God

The essence of early Joban theology sees Job catapulted into worlds of pain. Yet quickly Job is able to see something that we’ll often struggle with. In Job 1:21, he is able to bless the Lord even in the midst of dire distress. The reason for this is, perhaps, that he understands that naked he’s come into the world, and naked he will leave it.

When life is suddenly boiled down to God and one single person — us, alone — there is fundamentally no sense in comparing with others.

The logic of comparison has ended; envy no longer has any rational power.

When we can live as if it was just us as persons and the Lord our God, suddenly we have the capacity to not be offended anymore.

But accordant to the discussion at top, we must incorporate this into our characters, for once a high time has vanished from experience, God leaves it to our own to work out with him, day by day, one day at a time.

Let’s focus on this God-logic: we are cosmically alone with God. Everything else fades in comparison.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

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