El Camino – The Way (part 1)
I am not a theological scholar, a pastor or an evangelist. I write this piece in the vein of “El Camino” (The Way) where all things are possible, but nothing is safe…
My confidence lies in my brokenness. For it is here I have experienced God’s reckless mercy. Divorce, depression and addictions are fearful pits I fell into. I am intimately familiar with the miry clay steeped in the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life. My mind, emotions and will were subject for years to the “occupied territories” of love for the world; which with ease “pushed out” love for God. I gave enough rationale to justify the injustices of my generation so that my conscience was seared from spiritual awakening.
There is no linear trajectory in my testimony – rather an intermingling of seasons. Invariably, there were seeds sown -- those on the stony path were quickly eaten up by competing distractions, greed and self-preservation. Others fell on the proverbial rocky ground of my soul, sprang up quickly but took no root; falling victim to the scorching trials of life and withered away. Still, other seeds fell among thorns of temptation that choked any resemblance of meaningful spiritual growth.
I peripherally understood the rationale for salvation. But the magnitude and intensity of a life destined for Calvary did not begin to unfold and pierce the core of my being until after I incrementally and marginally made shifts and drifted into the quagmire of the living dead; walking in the flesh. I know what it means to have my spirit amputated and to be left in a dark desert….
The quick fix of a revival or preacher’s exposition was titillating, at best. The notion of being too lost to be found was more compelling. It is this gut-wrenching reality of my condition that has helped me demystify the anatomy of sin, which no matter how deceitfully veiled; is the desire to be god of my life and walk in independence.
El Camino best plays out my life as the sum of tests plus temptations in the context of pleasure and pain. When I am afforded with pleasure, am I filled with unforgettable gratitude toward the giver or am I besotted by the gift? For that underlies the test that can transparently transition to temptation. When I am engulfed with pain or events that frustrate my preferences, am I tempted to expediently manoeuvre my circumstance or do I cross over and take the test to walk in dependence on Him whose thoughts and ways are higher than mine?
This is not a simplistic equation, for Jesus himself said:
I’m telling you this straight. The Son can’t independently do a thing, only what He sees the Father doing. What the Father does, the Son does. The Father loves the Son and includes him in everything he is doing.(John 5: 19 MSG).
Nowhere is this struggle more vividly portrayed than in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus was included in his Father’s plan to have him abandoned on the Cross so that I will never have to experience absolute abandonment.
At the top of this post I alluded to The Way as a journey where all things are possible, but nothing is safe. The word “safe” there is used in the context of how the world I was serving is one that seeks self- preservation and at best offered me “fig leaves” to hide my shame.
As I looked around, standing in the ruins of a broken marriage, and a broken mind, I started sifting through the ashes of my life with nothing to offer; aching for hope….to start over, mercy… to be made whole and grace….to heal.
And in the next blog, more will be revealed – He was there through it all.