Saturday, February 26, 2005

In the FoxHole, Part VIII
Avoiding a Monomaniacal Focus

In the FoxHole, part I - Strength before StrengthI
In the FoxHole, part II - Pain as Teacher
In the FoxHole, part III - Waiting

In the FoxHole, Part IV - Strength in Christ

In the FoxHole, Part V - Learned Optimism
In the FoxHole, Part VI - Abiding in the Vine
In the FoxHole, Part VII - Practising His Presence

For the first two years of my undergrad career, I went to Virginia Tech. I remember once after finishing exams that I realized that there was one thing that I appreciated about exams: When you are in the middle of exams, life becomes very simple. You have to study and take tests. All of your life is organized around those two priorities. Sometimes when I finished Exam Week I would get depressed, and the reason was that as soon as the pressure of exams were off I would have to face the rest of my life.

There's a deceptively great inner convenience in collapsing life down to the resolution of one lifeproblem.

Everything will be all right when...

  • i finally get a girlfriend,
  • i finally get married,
  • i finally defeat this disease,
  • i finally get out of debt,
  • i finally get a job,
  • [fill in your own blank].
This week after blogging on what I see as three Johannine thoughtthreads emphasized in his Abiding in Vine meme, 1) a radical belief in Jesus, 2) accepting his magnificent love for us, and then 3) loving others, I was struck by my need today to do 3). I must be about loving others right now and not just as soon as God gives us deliverance from our current trial.

And I realized I had collapsed life down to this one issue. As large as the issue is, I realized and am realizing that I have let it become too important to me - that I had begun to organize most of thoughts and life around it.

When we do that, we set up the illusion of our independence, our sufficiency, and our importance.

Many years ago I read a chapter from Love Must be Tough called "Love Toughness for Singles" that I both disliked and appreciated. The author advocates the unmarried as taking a stance toward those of the opposite sex of "I'm going somewhere; I'd love to have you come along because my life will be significant and exciting. But if you don't, that's ok - I'm fine; I'm still on my journey."

What I did not like about the chapter was that, whether the author meant it to or not, that stance came across in the book as a strategy to use that might work, rather than the actual attitude that we should have.

We really do need to have significant, dependent, Godconfidence in the midst of all lifechallenges. That doesn't mean that we are not scared or that they don't hurt or that we aren't worried. It does mean that we are not terrified, completely destroyed, or paralyzed in fear. We are enjoined to "pour out our heart before Him" (Psalm 62:8), but - at the same time - "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed" (2 Cor 4:8,9).

Even in the midst of an intense trial, there is a balance to be struck. Even in seasons of chosen imbalance such as the buying of a house, having a new baby, or trying to get a start-up off the ground and into profitability, or when life seems to impose extra focus on some aspect of life such as health when fighting cancer even then we are not to have a monomaniacal focus on the issue at hand.

We must deal with it appropriately in the context of a relationship with a Father Who loves us and a Lord Who has work for us to do in His kingdom. We must avoid setting up our own kingdom that's focused on one matter alone.

There's more in the world than my FoxHole.

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