Monday, December 29, 2008

Now. Not Yet.

"There is deliverance to use that beautiful old word, and Christians are people who through such now-and-then, here-and-there visions as they've had through Christ, have been delivered just enough to know that there's more where that came from, and whose experience of the little deliverance that has already happened inside themselves and whose faith in the deliverance still to happen is what sees them through the night." 
-Frederick Buechner; A Room Called Remember 

Free but not yet. Arrived but not there. 

The Bible is a book whose authenticity is questioned by big and small thinkers alike, but one thing that convinces me of its truth more than any apologetic is the realism I find between its covers, its true to life stories. Obviously, there are larger than life tales of giants, water walks, heralding angels, and fire from heaven. However, it is rare that there are "happily-ever-after" stories in the Bible, but it is marked by characters who are left with some sort of struggle often times immediately after an encounter with redemption. 

The lame man walks only to be questioned about working on the Sabbath. 

Elijah calls down fire on the alter and witnesses the end of the drought only to run for his life from the evil queen. 

David is rewarded a wife for his valiant efforts and victories only to have her ridicule him for his worship style. 

Thomas' doubt is relieved and joy restored by touching the wounds in Jesus' hands and side only to watch Him vanish into the clouds. 

Victory and pain, will there ever be a day where the one stands independent of the other? 

I appreciate the image of the Israelites standing on the edge of the sea with the Egyptians pressing down on them. They had been in slavery and bondage for years, and after praying for a savior for who knows how long they finally had Moses leading them to freedom. However, freedom came at a cost. Moses wasn't able to throw down a miracle or two in order to convince Pharoah of Yahweh's sovereignty, rather it took ten plagues. After each plague, I imagine the Israelites thought to themselves,
"Surely, he will let us go now," only to be met by Pharaoh's disappointing arrogance. But long story short... They are set free. 

Fast forward. 

They stand on the edge of the Red Sea with Pharaoh pressing in wondering why they were ever set free to begin with. If you haven't heard the story before, or you have never watched Charleton Heston part the waters, I'll go ahead and spoil the ending for you. The Israelites miraculously walk over on dry ground while the unfortunate Egyptians get buried in a watery grave. 

Immediately at the conclusion of this story there is this lovely moment where the people of God dance and sing, celebrating their new found freedom, but the next morning, they start a long hard journey across the barren wilderness. It is then that they begin their journey to freedom. They are completely free of the Egyptians but not from the wilderness. They have arrived to a place outside their slavery, but they are not at the promise land. 

I more often than not feel like a man who has arrived at a place of freedom, but I am simultaneously so very far from it.

Sin no longer has a hold on me. I am the chief of all sinners. 
Death has lost its sting. I mourn those I have lost. 
Fear will no longer torment me. The night can seem so dark. 

I have truly experienced the freedom of Christ in my life where I am no longer identified by my weaknesses. I have experienced the joy of knowing and hearing from Him. I have seen myself defeat my earthly awful desires because of a strength that is in me and is beyond me. However, I am still aware of the dark places that are in me, the twisted, wounded places. 

I believe that we who are touched by the grace of Christ are indeed free, but we are not completely free. We have arrived, but we are not there. God has drowned our sins, but we have a wilderness to fight through. Let us celebrate for we are fully free. Let us focus, because we have a journey ahead of us. 

1 comment:

jinglchelle said...

i know you wrote this back in december but i completely understand and appreciate your sentiments here. thank you!