The ways we miss our lives

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The ways we miss our lives

TODAY I bring you some observations about a modern dilemma, a reminder of an ancient story and the connection between the two.

A Modern Dilemma.

In one of his novels, the late Walker Percy talks about a character who suddenly realizes that he is living a fallen life instead of a fully human life. “How did it happen that now for the first time in his life he could see everything so clearly? Not once had he been present for his life. So his life had passed like a dream. Is it possible for people to miss their lives in the same way one misses a plane?”

I don’t know anybody who does not at one time or another ask if they are missing something essential in life.

Poet Randall Jarrell observed, “the ways we miss our lives are life.”

If a fully human life is spiritual, intellectual, creative, relational, moral and physical, any diminishment of our potential in any one, some or all of those spheres of life are the ways we are missing our own life.

The negative in the world try to convince us that we do not actually bear the image of God, that we do not possess extraordinary potential. Imagine if Fred Astaire had paid attention to the conclusions of the judges at his first screen test.
“Can’t act. Can’t sing. Can dance a little.”

Reaching our potential requires that we believe such possibility resides within us, but it also requires recognizing the warring factions within us. We need a savior to defeat the darkness within.

Most people intuitively understand there is a transcendent life. Those who are fortunate realize one day that the source of these glimmers of hope and nagging yearnings is spiritual. Nicholas Berdyaev describes the source, “all beauty in the world is either a memory of Paradise or a prophecy of the transfigured world.”

If I am to find a fuller life, I must find God.

An Ancient Story
In the first century there was a man who was missing his life because he was deaf and mute. He had never spoken a word nor heard a sound. He could not participate in the vibrant conversations all around him. He did not hear the music at parties, nor the newborn cry of his first child, nor the birds singing on warm cloudless Mediterranean days. He could not hear the call to worship at the Temple, could not repeat the prayers every devout Jew was called to offer each day.

Somehow he learned that a miracle worker and prophet Jesus, was passing through the village. So decided to go check this out. He had tried everything else ~ what did he have to lose?

When they met we are told simply this: “Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed.”

Perhaps the man did not know the silence and pain in his life was caused by a sinister darkness residing in his soul.

Others clearly understood. In the 1st century people believed that whatever does not lead to a vibrant life is from the dark side, ruled over by Beelzebub.

Jesus said that just as Beelzebub rules the kingdom of darkness, he, Jesus, rules the kingdom of light, an empire more powerful than the dark side. He told people they must choose. Jesus said, “if you are not for me you are against me.”

A woman in the crowd called out praises to Jesus mother Mary. She said, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” Jesus said instead the enlightened should praise God =that true blessings come to those “who hear the word of God and obey it.”

A Connection
The old puritan Jonathan Edwards said, “The heart of man is naturally prone to sin. The weight of the soul is naturally that way, as the stone by its weight tends to go downward. And saints have a great tendency to sin.”

The darkness of sin keeps us from fulfilling our potential and the busyness and distractions of daily life divert our attention from what matters.

Leo Tolstoy put it this way. “When there is no sun, you can see limitless stars in the sky. You are certain they exist. When the sun rises, you can no longer see them. In the same way, you cannot see God when you are blinded by the temptations of the world. Yet you know God exists, and He will reveal Himself in you¢â‚¬¦ The activity of people who do not understand the true meaning of life is always directed at the struggle of existence, acquiring more wealth and pleasures, and not getting rid of their sufferings and preparing for eternal life. The more people are busy with this in their daily lives, the less time they will have for the only true pleasure that man has, love.”

We miss our lives in our own unique ways, but when we miss our lives it is always because of some subtle yielding to the dark side.

Turn to the light, obey and become fully human.

We need to be released from the darkness (“Jesus was driving out a demon’) and we need to nurture the light (hear the word of God and obey it.”)

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in November 6, 2008 by | No Comments »

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