Monday, March 1, 2010

Tis the Season for...


I can't say that the Haiti or Chile circumstances have impacted me that deeply, though. I hate to even write that, but I'm just being honest. Sure, I've seen the news, watched the support and fundraising efforts rally the world, and even prayed for those who are more immediately affected. But it isn't personal for me. I sent some money to Haiti, but my heart was not and has not been 'devastated' by what is going on.

An earthquake of a different sort rocked my immediate world this weekend. I heard that a friend and former youth ministry colleague had succumbed to the tempations of moral failure, devastating some circles of people pretty close to me. And, like Haiti or Chile, the 'catastrophe' was totally unforeseen and horrifically devastating.

And now, like the Chilean situation, or even that of Southeast Asia a few years back, the tsunami created by this earthquake roles out from the epicenter and threatens to continue to cause damage as the waves and ripples issue forth. One decision, or a series of decisions, impacts more than just two people involved. The tide rolling out from this is going to drown some people, I'm afraid. And while I pray that it doesn't, this is the kind of stuff that demoralizes and severs relationships, and even undermines faith.

My mind has ping-ponged between grace and truth, frustration and forgiveness. There is no human alive that is impervious to temptation, (foremost...myself) but there are just some things you don't see coming, and some things that you think could never happen. I don't for a minute set myself on a pedestal that says that I could never fall victim to similar sin, but it's just one of those things that I wish people took a little more seriously, and guarded themselves  a little more intentionally. I've had it drilled in my head since college that to put yourself in compromising positions is to invite failure and 'tempt the tempter.' I've never trusted my will power enough to dance close to that fault line.

I thought about a discussion I saw on why was the Haiti earthquake so much more deadly? Chile was better equipped and prepared for handling an earthquake than Haiti, although the Chilean tremors were substantially more powerful. There was an infrastructure of building codes and emergency response that was much more readily available in Chile than in Haiti. It helped, too, that the Chilean quake epicenter was 20 miles out to sea, while the hugely populated capital of Port-a-Prince found itself very near the ground zero of tectonic shifting.

And so, I try to draw lines to this  'people-quake'... Shouldn't Christian people be better prepared? Shouldn't pastors be more wary of temptation? Shouldn't the infrastructure of churches, staff pastors, and elder boards be keeping a better system of encouragement and accountability to ward off these failures?

And, yes, even as I write this, I know I could link to a number of articles and stories that show that Christians (and pastors, especially) are just as susceptible to moral and spiritual 'failures.' Maybe Christians are more susceptible because they find themselves in communities and circles that tend to avoid touchy subjects or don't want to rock the boat with confrontation, and allow sin and temptation to exist, hidden behind closed doors and a facade of accountability. Maybe Christians are more susceptible because we live in the delusion that we're not.

Maybe Christians trust each other a little too much. Maybe the Body of Christ is a little too soft and naive about our sin nature and our enemy. Maybe we think too highly of our own ability to dance with the devil and not get burned.

So, again... let me be clear. My life is not sin-free. I'm not casting stones from a place of superiority or perfection. The tremors of sin rock my world daily.

If anything, I'm coming up for air after having the tsunami waves of demoralization, sadness, and disappointment wash over me.

I'm thankful for forgiveness. I'm thankful for grace and hope on the other side of tragedy. One of my life goals is to be more balanced with grace and truth. I'm in process on that one. Jesus, help me.

And, as this picture from Chile illustrates and reminds me/us, I'm thankful that Jesus is present in the midst of the earthquakes, helping to rebuild and bring comfort even in the midst of devastation. 

Even so, Lord Jesus, come.


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