Monday, July 6, 2009

From My Back Porch

Some guys at work were talking about the economy the other day, I try not to get real involved in those conversations because it seems like I'm usually on the other side of the isle, but one of them used an expression I had never heard before and its stuck with me. the first guy was talking about all the economic improvements that have been made in the last several months and the second guy said, "I'm sure its out there, but you can't see it from my back porch."

I feel that way about truth right now. I wish I could be more specific, but I can't. I just feel like there is something I'm missing. I just re-read Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis and this time its left me with more questions than answers. I'm afraid I have become convinced that if there are answers for me out there, for now, they lie in study and theology. I hate that, I really do. I don't like the language of theology and I don't like being categorized. Mr. Lewis has convinced me that this is childish, short sighted, and a little narrow. I'm not sure how to paraphrase it, so here is the complete text.
I think he had probably had a real experience of God in the desert. And when he turned from that experience to the Christian creeds, I think he really was turning from something real to something less real. In the same way, if a man has once looked at the Atlantic from the beach, and then goes and looks at a map of the Atlantic, he also will be turning from something real to something less real: turning from real waves to a bit of coloured paper. But here comes the point. The map is admittedly only coloured paper, but there are two things you have to remember about it. In the first place, it is based on what hundreds and thousands of people have found out by sailing the real Atlantic. In that way it has behind it masses of experience just as real as the one you could have from the beach; only, while yours would be a single isolated glimpse, the map fits all those different experiences together. In the second place, if you want to go anywhere, the map is absolutely necessary. As long as you are content with walks on the beach, your own glimpses are far more fun than looking at a map. But the map is going to be more use than walks on the beach if you want to get to America.

I want, very badly, to get to America. I'm afraid I'm about to get into some very deep water -out in some wide open spaces. I could (I'm sure at times I will) get very lost where I now plan on going, but I've come to the place where I'd rather drown than stay on the beach. It just doesn't seem to make much sense taking this journey without some sort of map. In this instance, C.S. Lewis is right, theology becomes both necessary and practical.

I'm a short way into this journey and I'm not clear on what I've seen so far, but I'm going to try and talk about where I am now. I've thought a lot lately about how time works for God. It started in discussion about the difference between God knowing what you are going to do and making you do it. From there I started thinking (led, again, by Mr. Lewis) about what happens when you pray and how God can be as attentive as we all believe he is. C.S. Lewis says what I have always thought, that God is outside of time so that he sees it all as it is happening, we have to leave point A to get to B but he doesn't. Both A and B are His present.

The idea here is simple, it is always now for God; every moment through all of time is his present, his current reality. I've thought this for as long as I can remember, but I've never really thought about what it means for everything else I believe. This one idea touches and moves everything I believe. What takes me 45 seconds to pray God has all of eternity to listen to. The sin I commit without thinking, he has all of eternity to be hurt or dishonored by.

I haven't been able to get past the feeling that everything is finished, Jesus said it. I believe it. We can already be forgiven for sins we haven't yet committed because we have committed them, we just haven't' gotten there yet. Make sense? Doesn't really to me either. For God, right now I am committing every sin I'll ever commit. Right now God is realizing what it will take to reconcile that sin and bring me back into fellowship with him. Right now Christ is choosing to take my place. Right now my sin is being counted to him and his righteousness to me. Right now it is finished, death is defeated. In this moment I am forgiven, not just for this moment, but for all my moments. This is the hour of my salvation.

I don't know if this makes any sense, I doubt it does. It helps me a little though. I hope that by sharing here I'm able to help you, but I'm sure I sometimes do more harm than good. For the foreseeable future when I'm able to write I suspect it will be just as vague it has been tonight. I hope that when I get where I'm going you're there with me - having enjoyed and benefited from the ride.