Probing the Edge

6/3/2023   by Matt Lewellyn

"But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him." Hebrews 2:8

This world was spoken into being by our three-in-one God, for the express purpose of being worship to him. Not simply performing acts of worship, though that is a good and noble goal.

No - being. The vastest substance of creation does not act in worship. It's not capable of doing so. The stars in the heavens, the planets around them, vast galaxies formed from nothing by his voice - none of these act in worship, but they are worship nonetheless because they proclaim his glory.

Piper famously wrote that missions exists because worship doesn't. That is, there are places in this world of ours, a tiny place in the vastness of the universe, where God is not proclaimed - where worshipful being is not found.

And while Piper is speaking of missions in terms of international and interpersonal gospel proclamation, we can really bring the same concept down to our own lives, inside ourselves. In our lives, we have times and places where we're not in an attitude of worship, with awareness of the presence of God.

Really, putting it that simply is not quite fair to ourselves. If we are followers of Christ, we do have a part of us, the new person, that does perfectly attach to God's presence, is fueled by his spirit, and will cling to his grace. That new person is entirely subjected to Jesus.

But we are deeply aware that we do not yet see all things subjected to him. We have sin - the things we do in promotion of self over others, the thoughts and attitudes we tend to indulge, the opposite to the characteristics of love. That much is obvious. We continue to see ourselves acting in pride, being quick to anger, putting our own desires above the good of others, and refusing to ask God for his best.

But there's more to us than that. We also have things that are wrong with us that just aren't our fault. Things we can call weakness, which could be besetting conditions, or even just tendencies. Things like physical anxiety. Debilitating depression. Various acronym-labeled symptoms, syndromes, and neural systems.

One part of us is subjected to Christ completely. The rest, not so much. So there are parts of us that seem to have the light of Christ, and other parts that are just dark as night. Still others are in that strange glow in between, as if under a solar eclipse.

You might think the frustration of life in the fog is that we know we're struggling with with being functional amid mental health/wellness issues. But it's not. Not really. I mean, that is frustrating, to not be able to do everything you think you should be able to do.

But often, the frustration really lies in feeling like we're missing depth. The struggles are part and parcel of what it is to be in this broken world, and we realize that. We want to have a deep root in God's presence, to have awareness of his grace in time of need. Not just to have that grace - we want to realize it's there.

What we have instead... feels shallow. Like our equipment is broken, or missing - we're just not able to dig deep enough to put that root down. In the face of realizing we can't make it happen, we find ourselves leaning on all our practiced coping mechanisms to settle in against the onslaught - the fight inside ourselves, coming from within ourselves.

Some of us are drawn toward probing that edge of darkness, just like children love to test their boundaries. We want to know, what is it that's there where the twilight fades away to nothing? Because whatever is there, we know it's not yet subjected to Jesus. Because we belong to him, we want to grab it, yank it from the darkness, and give it to him.

We go in looking for sin. But often, what we tear at in the darkness keeps looking like the same anxiety, the same depression, the same despair. Things that on our best days we can look ourselves in the mirror and tell ourselves that it isn't our fault. On our worst days, they feel like inescapable traps.

It doesn't feel right, does it? To take the same darkness that isn't our fault to Jesus, day after day after day... Taking sin there is one thing. We know it's not his best for us, and we have a choice in the matter. But this other stuff makes us feel like we just don't have enough faith, enough devotion to make it go away. It feels like there has to be a reason that he's not taking it away when we're bringing it to him.

Often, the greatest test of our faith is taking things to Jesus even when we know he may not take it all away. Not right away.

Perhaps we can recast this a bit, though. The thing is, each day behind us is one that is no longer in front of us. We can probe the edge of the darkness, tear each daily piece away, and present it to our savior. That's what we can do - give him the broken pieces of our lives as we live them.

We haven't given him tomorrow yet. Of course not, because we aren't there yet. We'll get there, and when we do, we will live through our struggle, and present that to Jesus on the other side. Then the next day, and the day after that. That is worshipful being.

Our building frustration with our savior is not that he doesn't take anything away. We're frustrated that he's not taking it all away right away. That frustration does make our fog denser, but it does not make our savior yield us from his grasp. Let's keep telling ourselves that he cares for us far more than we feel or can fathom.



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