Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Pathetic, but (thank God) not forever

Somewhere around Sunday, the local Sacramento winds kicked up some diabolical allergen, or horde of allergens, of the genus Killus Danielphillipus. They've just been kicking my... my self, ever since.

I sit here semi-listless, after another not-great sleep, sinuses packed as with cement (sneezing and dripping should return later), eyes hurting, head throbbing. That's just my body, though, right? My spiritual nature is another thing.

Yes, it's another thing, but it's in my body. God made Adam's flesh, breathed into it the spirit of life, and he became a living soul (Genesis 2:7). I am one person, comprised of body, soul, and spirit. The elements may be distinct, but they're related.

And so I did my Bible reading, but it wasn't terribly rewarding. I tried to pray on the way to work, but it wasn't much. I don't think Heaven got excited. And here I sit, not quite zombielike, but... well, not much.

And this is nothing, absolutely nothing. Other people have real issues they're dealing with. Joni wakes up today, still a paraplegic, after decades of paraplegia. My brother David Wayne (keep praying for him) is still dealing with that damnable monster cancer. I know specifically some of you, my dear readers, are dealing with physical issues that make my silly, passing allergies embarrassingly trivial.

Physical issues, mental issues, temperamental issues, moral issues. This one brother is a terrific writer, but brittle and fragile. This other one is boastful and crass and taints the way he expresses his love for Jesus with self-defeating crudity. That woman has a sharp tongue she hasn't gotten to the root of; this fellow hasn't bridled his thought-life as he should; that one has desires that must be brought to the Cross....

On and on it goes. That's this life, for the Christian. The phrases I think of to express it are all so over-used that I don't even want to type them — but they're true. That's why they're over-used.

We are broken people who are in-process. That's just as true of a John MacArthur, with his very different construction, as it is of me. After years of being saved, of growth in sanctification, of fruitful service, Paul could still use the present tense and the mildly emphatic pronoun (εἰμι ἐγώ) in saying that "Christ Jesus came into the world sinners to save, among whom I am first" (1 Timothy 1:15).

And while I think the already is over-stressed in some systems, it is true that we live in an already/not-yet tension. Already we who've placed repentant faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are saved, justified, forgiven, sanctified, adopted, baptized, indwelt, loved, blessed, seated, adopted, owned by God — Paul can even use the past tense "glorified," so sure is the eventuality (Romans 8:30).

But there is so much not-yet. We still struggle with our flesh (Romans 7:14-25), we still await deliverance from the body of this death (Romans 7:24). And then there's John's great "not-yet":
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
(1 John 3:1-3)
And there, in a word, is all my hope. One day, I will see Him, and the sight will be finally transformative. I will not always be torn, broken, conflicted, afflicted with holy desires I cannot fully fulfill, and by unholy desires I should not even know. One day He "will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself" (Philippians 3:21). Then I will be truly whole. Not a mass of conflicting drives and weaknesses, like a bad orchestra clumsily warming up. Then, by God's transforming and resurrecting and glorifying grace, I shall be a symphony of praise (cf. Revelation 22:1-5).

That's our hope, Christian. Let us hang on, and purify ourselves by it.

16 comments:

VcdeChagn said...

And then there's this family:

Plane Crash

It makes me sick to realize I deserve no less in my life--and with four sons and a fifth due any time I have a lot of "potential for tragedy" as well as a tremendous amount of God's blessing in my life.

How much mercy do we get? The answer is simply (no matter the quantity)...more than we deserve.

The difference between the redeemed and the lost is in our hope. Thanks for the reminder.

On a lighter note--my word verification was dogic--The same logic that leads a dog to conclude that because you left for an hour, you would be gone forever.

Kevin Rhyne said...

Having recently moved further down recovery after on-and-off two month's worth of what you are talking about, this really resonated with me (to keep the orchestra theme going...)

That little reminder of God's grace to me was worth its weight in gold. Such a simple thing - sinus sickness, but it put me down hard with fever, etc. As one who does not naturally empathize with others, an extended bout of sickness opened my eyes a little more to the real physical suffering that others go through daily. You have reminded me of the spiritual flu that we all endure and will continue to endure until the dim mirror is shattered and we see Him face to face.

Thanks for posting.

Nauvoo Pastor said...

So true; but these concepts will still be ignored by the vast majority of Christians.

Gilbert said...

Dan,

One must not trivialize the type of pain and ssuffering we are going through. True, others are going through much worse...but being allergic to pollen and very allergic to all animals with fur (which makes being with people with dogs and cats extremely difficult if not impossible at times that no medication helps me with), I hear you. Having said that...

Thank you again for the reminder. And hang in there. I hate allergies, cancer, and all sickness. It will all pass away soon!

Everyday Mommy said...

"That woman has a sharp tongue she hasn't gotten to the root of;"

Hmmm...me.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Dan,

You remind me of how quick I am to attempt to fix or medicate my physical ailments, but how 'tolerant' I am of my sin. Left to my own devices, I'm much more interested in being made comfortable than in being made holy.

That said, I pray for your recovery,

Julie

gringa said...

"And there, in a word, is all my hope. One day, I will see Him, and the sight will be finally transformative. I will not always be torn, broken, conflicted, afflicted with holy desires I cannot fully fulfill, and by unholy desires I should not even know. One day He "will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself" (Philippians 3:21). Then I will be truly whole. Not a mass of conflicting drives and weaknesses, like a bad orchestra clumsily warming up. Then, by God's transforming and resurrecting and glorifying grace, I shall be a symphony of praise (cf. Revelation 22:1-5)."

Thanks for the much-needed encouragement. I think I'll put that on my refrigerator.:)

Aaron said...

Dan: Amen!

I just came down with a sinus infection due to my allergies. The pollen is so thick here in Houston that is covers everything. You can the yellow pollen like a thick layer of dust on cars, my pool, the ground, etc.

I often feel though that whatever I am suffering, it is so trivial that I feel embarrassed to even mention it (to others or to God). Often at my men's group, when we pray for each other, I can't bring myself to mention anything I need prayer about because it seems so trivial compared to the sufferings of others. I am waaaaaaaay more blessed than I deserve. I sometimes wonder if I'm not being Godly enough because life seems so easy.

Rachael Starke said...

Way to fight like Spurgeon, Dan.

My day yesterday was verysimilar - different ailment, but a lot of the same symptoms, and the same discouragment over my inability to pray or sense God's presence.

Thanks for the Christ-focussed hope.

Ebeth said...

Amen. Days like this--weeks like this--I also hold on to 1 John 3:1-3 and 1 Peter 5:10-11.

CR said...

Excellent post, Dan. Hope you feel better, soon.

JOYce ~♥~ said...

Sooooo convicting ~ yet encouraging/ edifying. Like John Newton we be: I am not what I hope to be - soon, soon shall I put off mortality, and with mortality all sin and imperfection....by the grace of God I am what I am....

Thinking on how blessed to be His workmanship. Hope you are feeling better soon...or already are.

DJP said...

I am feeling better, thank you Joyce; and had a pretty good sleep. Thanks.

JOYce ~♥~ said...

That's wonderful news to hear today, Dan; glad you are feeling better and were able to get needed sleep, too!

dahuns said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dahuns said...

I suffer from asthma and allergies, and I think that you may benefit from the use of a hepa filter face mask. Activated charcoal in the filter may also help if chemicals bother you as well. The most effective is the 3M 6000 series or 7500 series respirator with P100 type filters (pure hepa or hepa + charcoal). I recommend the more expensive 7500 type. A less bulky option is the honeycomb mask at icanbreath.com.