It was one of those days. Everything went wrong that could go wrong. In fact, things had been going wrong all week. My mood spiraled downward into self-flagellation. If everything was going wrong, then it must be because there was something wrong with me. That day seemed to symbolize my whole life—conflicted relationships, hardship and struggle, and blockades which held me back from being all that I could be.
Risen from the Past
Why had God allowed my life to go down a zig-zaggy path? Yes, why? Had He allowed it? Or was it the result of my own will, or of misguided authorities, or of evil perpetrators? Was it just another muddy puddle of sin in this fallen world, and was the great thing to step out of that mud or to be lifted out and to be liberated onto the straight path? Was it my destiny to see with my own eyes the difference between dark and light by having lived on both sides of the spectrum? Was that my learning curve? Was that the purpose of my life? To be saved from its totality and finality? To be risen through Christ?
Shame and Faithlessness
If the reality of sin as brokenness, the many fragments of which constitute the bulk of my life, serves as an aid to understanding the nature of sin and the gift of salvation, then why should I feel ashamed? Is that not the same as feeling ashamed of Christ, of the Gospel, and of His ability to continue doing marvelous works on earth? If I am lifted from the mud puddle even at the eleventh hour, is that not all the more reason to be grateful and cheerful? Is it not faithless to think that my existence is defined by an embarrassing and disappointing personal past and not by the impact of the Crucifixion upon that past and into the present?
Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.
On this account I am suffering these things; but I am not ashamed for I know him in whom I have believed and am confident that he is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day.
1 Timothy 1:12
Please do not misunderstand me—I am not rationalizing or justifying the commission of sins, nor am I excusing or minimizing the trauma that other people can inflict upon us. I am saying, generally, that life is unfulfilling and unrewarding but that Christ enables us to work out our salvation through these dynamics nonetheless. This is the only thing that makes life worth living. It is a transformational process, and for that we cannot feel ashamed of Christ or of His condescension to our level. He knows how to reach each one of us as individuals.
Suffering with Hope
When I look back over my life, I have all the evidence I need that a spiritual life is better than a worldly life. Moreover, a life of misfortune and uncertainty is better than a life of resignation and conformity. It seems that the stuff with which Christ could work, the stuff of which I am ashamed, is what permits me to experience transformation and to know the difference between dark and light. Only sinners need to be saved. Only the sick need a physician. I never want to go back to the darkness of my former suffering. If I am to suffer, then let me suffer for Christ as His disciple. Let it be a suffering with hope that I will be found worthy, though unworthy, on that final day.
My comment to the author…
This piece of writing, this testimony, is perfect. I mean it. It is perfect. I am not saying you are perfect in the way that most people understand the word. Nor am I perfect. But your self-expression is perfect. God has granted you His great mercy to 'tell it as it is' with a clarity and honesty that He endorses with incredible power. At this depth the darkness has been transformed to light, a light that can now be shared, to help light the way for others who have fallen or tunneled deep, but not yet deep enough. They who read your words, as well as I, can truly take heart, because you make us know by your words that we are not alone there. You are there, and Christ is there, and soon we will all have arrived at this place where we know for sure, the tombs have been opened and are emptied of their dead. The darkness and cold chill of that hour before the sun rises was worth enduring, because out of the sea of darkness the sun rises as faithfully and predictably as we have been told. This is no accident, that sun rises, and Son resurrects, both utterly and predictably certain. The prophets did not lie, the saints do not fib, our own pains and sorrows, even our very bodies of sin and death, were really only just seeds whose purpose was to be buried, planted so they could sprout and grow into the light, producing at last ears in plenty, sixty- or a hundred-fold. Everything the religious believe is true, and all they or we ever need to do is to admit our brokenness, turn ourselves in to the Healer, and be still. His therapy takes time, but that is what time is for. Biological life was made for death, but death for resurrection. Matter was only the embryo of spirit, and spirit only the Spirit scaled down to meet us. Our blindness was a blessing that resulted in sight, and sight itself only the vehicle of our transformation: to see Him is to be transfigured into Him.
Yes, Sister, this piece of writing, this testimony, is perfect.