"Are your wonders known in the darkness, or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?" - Psalm 88:12
Almost every day during the warmer months, I take a stroll on the boardwalk near my home. Sometimes, I'm up early enough to see the sun burst forth from the horizon, and some days I get out at just the right time to catch it dropping from view. These are remarkable visions to behold and worthy of praising God for all that He has made. There are times I do marvel at them, and then there are other times. The other times scare me. They make me fear for my very soul. They are those times when you see great beauty day in and day out and find them uninspiring. I can see it the same as any other day, but it's nothing more than water, sand and sky layered neatly on top of one another. I don't know if it's boredom, but I think it's certainly a day in day out familiarity with the surroundings that make it feel less inspiring to me.
Those days, I don't want to walk the same "boring" path anymore. I need to find something else. So I find a park. The trees and grass and lake make for a wonderful setting. It's an incredible place and each day I walk I look forward to seeing something new. Except, monotony settles in once again and I see through old eyes the same trees and same grass, and the lake view no longer feels inspired. It's not anything I haven't seen before. What was once considered special just doesn't feel that way anymore. Nothing about the park has changed, it is a beautiful place to stroll. It's me. I've changed, or at least something inside of me has. I'm not seeing the beauty of nature growing all around or the still lake that acts like a mirror reflecting that beauty. I just see trees and water.
It doesn't matter what it is for me. I've worked in the city and played among its skyscrapers. It could be nothing more than a collection of stacked grey legos to me now. Whatever it is, eventually, it loses its luster, it's shine. It feels sometimes like a favorite shirt with the color washed away from it after years of use. You still kind of like it, but it's not what it used to be. Work is no different. Taking on new tasks and challenges pique my interest and gets me excited for the day, but eventually you have those moments when it just feels like one more drudgery, only this one we don't always have the luxury to just up and change our scenery.
These may not be the experiences of everyone, but everyone may have experienced these feelings of ennui or lack of inspiration that may come from seeing or doing the same thing over and over again. Then again, maybe not. I am concerned when I'm not moved by something that appears should move me. It probably shouldn't concern me since I've never been the most openly emotional person. Maybe that's why I go through these fits of "un-inspiration" at sunsets and such. But, something worries me more than all of those things combined. Something that none of us want to feel familiar or comfortable with. This would be the part of the article where I let some of that vulnerable honesty fly.
Sometimes, the bible bores me. Sometimes, I take scripture, grace and Jesus lightly. Like the same walk over and over through a park or on a boardwalk, it feels nice and familiar, but it doesn't inspire deep emotions. Sometimes, it feels like when I'm reading, it's just nails in a hand and not his hand. Sometimes, it's a crown of thorns that never dug deeply into a scalp. Sometimes, it's just an empty tomb yet to be used. Sometimes, it's just words on a page and not God's inspirations. I will read the word, acknowledge what it means and put it down and go about my day knowing I'll do it again tomorrow and the next day and so on. I can't be the only one that struggles with this, can I? The one who has to fight to let those truths sink in deeply and not let it just pass away as daily activities literally squeeze the life out of it?
This is part of the struggle with doubt. I sometimes doubt there is something beautiful to see in scripture. Something worth being moved by. I want to open up the pages and see a beautiful tapestry of salvation from beginning to end, in the same way I want to see a painted sky and not just layers of color, or the glassy reflection of scenery on a still body of water and not just liquid converged in a designated hole in the ground. I want my imagination to soar in the sights I see, and not fizzle before God's creation, or His Word.
For all these reasons, I keep reminding myself of the Gospel. Though it may feel boring and monotonous to me, still, I remind myself. I remind myself of the cross he hung from and the nails that held him there. I remind myself of the sin-my sin-that he bore. The sin that helped carry His cross to Golgotha. I remind myself of the tomb that was used for Christ and the stone that could not hold him there. I have to keep reminding myself of Christ's miraculous birth that made him worthy of the title of the spotless lamb that takes away the sins of the world. I have to remember that as that lamb, he gives us his white wool to wear so God the Father will now see us as spotless and worthy of Him. Most importantly, I have to have the faith he gave me to believe these things even when I'm not "moved" by them. Even more, I have to remember that Christ's faithfulness remains when mine wavers and nearly dissipates.
There is no sugar here today. There is no sweet sound of relief resounding with shouts of hallelujah from me. This is me now. This is me many times in the past. This will be me again. I'd like to say these are the moments that lie between the vast stretches of joy, but the reality for myself and others are that we sometimes live more in this place with a window that occasionally lets the light of joy shine in.
Yet faith remains...
I still walk the boardwalks with its painted skies of dusk and dawn, and I still follow the trails laid out through the green parks, around glassy ponds, and across old concrete bridges. I still look up at tall buildings and beautiful art. I still know there are things here to marvel and awe at, even if I'm not awestruck by them.
Yet faith remains...
...and this is my prayer for your moments as well.
The saying is trustworthy, for:
"If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself." - 2 Timothy 2:11-13
A theological misfit landing in the area of Lutheranism, Dominick has come to deeply appreciate the truth of scripture as defined by the distinction between Law and Gospel. He has found freedom in knowing that Christ is his substitute on even his worst days. He has been for the course of his church life everything from chair-stacker to men's ministry leader. He is blessed with a wonderful wife and two great young men, which he can say without a doubt, he doesn't deserve. He counts among his favorite things: Star Trek, classic superhero comics, movies, Yankees and yes, he admits to it, the Knicks. He enjoys a good conversation and good food. Finally, he is grateful for the opportunity to share the message of God's Grace among all these great teachers, pastors and theologians and hopes he doesn't mess up big time. But then again, that's what grace is for, right?