I just returned from an exhilarating week in Cle Elum’s gorgeous low maintains, where Joe and Judy again allowed me the use of their Hidden Valley home-away-from-home (not shown in foto at right!) to think, pray and write, write, write. I learned once again that I am more comfortable in the workshop of ideas and concepts than in their actual execution in real life. I am a bit of a dreamer, seeing the way things should be and saying it better than I do it.

This became clear when upon my return from a most productive week, through a series of relational “tests,” God painfully, yet I believe graciously turned my time in the workshop, into a trip to the woodshed (foto at right) for a good-old fashioned “butt kicking” session with yours truly. It is painful because God took disciplinary action with me; gracious because He only does this with people He loves who are muddling through trying to love Him. “Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth” is how the old KJV puts it.

Here are some of the messages I am getting:

1) You are knowledgeable but don’t know that much.

I’m writing a book that combines biblical studies, art, popular culture, social commentary, anthropology and a prophetic, exhortational vision. It is an interdisciplinary approach to a sprawling subject, each chapter of which is specialized and studied in depth by academics, practitioners and other “experts.” This means that when my opinions are read by a specially trained reader who actually knows something in depth about that subject, they may be considered so naƒ¯ve and ill informed that for that reader it discredits the chapters about other subjects in which they are not so well informed. This is a lose-lose that generalists like me always face but not with fear and trepidation. I am realizing my life of the mind is comfortable, in part because it is such a small, cozy, limited place.

2) You have been successful but it has gotten your focus off “things above.”

I am seeking what God has next for me and the revelation is slow in coming. Meanwhile, with bills to pay it is tempting to look just at the financial, and with some success under my belt it is tempting to look within the known and secure arenas in which I am connected. Don’t get me wrong, I should not ignore my financial responsibilities, nor am I to ungratefully turn my back on what God has provided in my career, but these are not what really matters. I am learning that in “finding my way in the world, the world has found its way into me” and that is not a good thing.

C.S. Lewis described this in Screwtape Letters. “Prosperity knits a man to the world. He feels that he is ¢â‚¬Ëœfinding his place in it,’ while really it is finding its place in him. His increasing reputation, his widening circle of acquaintances, his sense of importance, the growing presence of absorbing and agreeable work, build up in him a sense of really being at home in earth (Screwtape: which is just want we want!)”

The truth is as Rich Mullins acknowledged in “Damascus Road,” “I was hung in the ropes of success, when you stripped away the mask of life they had placed on the face of death. I wanna give you glory Lord and I do, but everything that I could ever find to offer comes from you.”

3) You have missed the most important thing: Love.

Without love my knowledge when communicated is an irritating clatter. On the mountaintop, in my hermetically sealed environment, it all makes sense and I see the world clearly. Then I come back to reality and interact with people and problems. Armed with my recently acquired and superior knowledge, and equipped with well-honed communication skills, I am God’s gift to family and friends hungry for learning. Right? Wrong!

According to the Apostle Paul, the depressing news is “ if I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or clanging cymbal¢â‚¬¦if I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries and all knowledge¢â‚¬¦I am nothing.”

Take heart if you have been in, are currently in, or are heading to the woodshed. God’s discipline is for a season, is merciful and has as the desired outcome, your growth and maturity.

AND SOME stories you might want to read:

Dave Barry on TV: Then and Now
Boy: Kill Mom. Don’t hurt TV
Sweet Jennifer Garner
Seeker Church: Dumb’s Down Gospel?
Bad Movies Get Worse
Poetry & Profits

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

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

If you have comments regarding this column please contact us at:

  • CultureWatch: culturewatch@dickstaub.com

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