Well, it has happened again, just like it does almost every day. I finished my oatmeal and toast, washed up the dishes, poured myself a second cup of decaffeinated coffee (although, about that, I have to ask “what’s the point?”), and walked the twenty yards across the parking lot to my office. I opened the door, stepped inside, and immediately started smiling—invariably and involuntarily—ear to ear.
I can’t help it. It’s just the best, most comfortable, most creativity-inducing physical space I’ve ever worked in. It’s also virtually impossible to surrender to the demon of self-pity when I’m in here, so my almost-constant low-grade depression retreats to the deepest recesses of my psyche for the duration. I am so very grateful to those two Christian brothers of mine whose financial assistance has made this productive workspace possible.
Now, on to the real purpose of this blog post. It’s a thought that came to me soon after I awoke this morning, and I knew I wanted to push it out a bit in this post. We’ll see how it goes.
There are immense needs in the world, most of them far greater and more intractable than my own. At the same time, there is enough good in the world to make me certain that Martin Luther King was right when he said that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. I truly believe that.
In this era of social media, when so many people are writing and publishing so many words in so many different formats, brevity and succinctness in communication is a virtue, if not a necessity. Accordingly, I have been trying to come up with a brief, succinct aphorism that fairly summarizes the arc of my pilgrimage over the past ten years, an overarching principle or descriptive precept that could provide rationale and coherence for any specific belief and behavior that I choose to advocate or defend.
Although I am fairly sure this will not ultimately be it, I am drawn this morning to that question raised by Charles Sheldon more than a century ago in a novel called In His Steps: “What would Jesus do?” It is by no means the end of the discussion, but it is a great place to begin.
I am a flawed human. If you want to point out inconsistencies between what I believe and how I put those beliefs into practice, they are not hard to find. But I am trying to follow the example of those who put me to shame by their compassion, their wisdom, their spirit of self-giving love arising from their devotion to Jesus and their desire to walk “in his steps.”
I know there are people watching me. Some of them want me to be silent, to stop writing and talking about the change that has come about in my perspective and my convictions in recent years. They want me to fail, and they believe that I will fail, because there is no room in their perception of truth and reality for both their worldview and mine.
Others applaud that same change, for in it they find encouragement and a reason for hope. And still others don’t really know what to think. They have placed confidence in me in the past, and they have trusted my sense of discernment. They would like to do that now, but I seem to be asking them to go further and perhaps in a direction slightly different than they are, at least at present, prepared to go. It is for this last group, especially, that I am trying to be consistent and faithful and, insofar as it is possible for an innate pessimist, positive. I don’t want to let them down.
I am not second-guessing myself. I am completely comfortable with the choices I have made. If I am honest, however, I must admit that I was not prepared for the difficult and sometimes painful consequences of those choices.
I wish I were a better man. I wish I could rise above the circumstances and exemplify more consistently the authentic faith I believe I have caught a glimpse of within the past eight years. On my own, I cannot. I will need divine enablement and supernatural strength from outside myself.
Please do not pity me. If you pray, however, pray for me. For the glory of God and the good of the kingdom, I want to finish strong.