It’s me, again. I talked to you earlier today. You may remember… I said some pretty profound sounding stuff, if I do say so, myself. Well see, the thing is: I just had a shouting match with a steak knife. Well, to be fair, I was the only one shouting, the knife never raised its voice. Sad to say, but it behaved more like an adult than I did. What started it was that I cut my finger. Now, to be honest, it wasn’t a very big cut; it just set me off. The cut wasn’t really the thing, at all; it simply threw gasoline on the coals that were smoldering just below the surface – the coals of frustration. Frustration with where I am in life; with the feeling that I should be doing more… that there must be more to life. This innate sense that there is something within me that wants to get out – that NEEDS to be realized.
I have this vague notion of what could be… of what should be! Yet, it simmers, just out of reach. Sometimes, my frustration boils over onto those around me, causing me to direct my feelings toward them. That happened yesterday, actually.
I am not the only one who feels this. Right now, it is 4:44 AM and pitch dark outside; and the lady next door just came out on her porch to smoke a cigarette. She feels it, too, I think. I don’t know her well enough to say that, I just know the signs – and she is exhibiting them.
So, I wonder… did You ever have days like this while You were on earth? Days where something just set You off? I wonder if the day You grabbed a whip and ran everyone out of the temple was one of those days. Maybe not. I tend to think that all of Your actions were well thought out, not reactionary or arbitrary. But You had to feel it sometimes, right? Like the time You healed the man with the withered hand, and all that the religious people could talk about was how You shouldn’t have done it on the Sabbath; or the time You raised up the crippled guy who was lowered down through the roof; and instead of celebrating, the Pharisees criticized You for the way You did it. Or… how about the time that bunch of hypocrites dragged that immoral woman out to You and wanted You to condemn her to death and to congratulate them for their great piety. Your words fairly dripped with disdain when You called them hypocrites and a brood of vipers. Wow! You even called them sons of hell and white-washed tombs!
The religious leaders must not have been the only ones who drove You nuts. How about the time that You were in the upper room about to share the last supper with Your disciples, and You had to break up an argument among them about which one of them was the greatest… woah! And then, there was the time that they had already seen You feed thousands of people from one little boy’s lunch, but they were worried that they might starve to death before they could cross the lake on a boat. I have to be honest; I’m glad You didn’t leave those days out of the Bible. I am really glad to know that, at the very least, You understand this feeling; because at times, I wonder how in the world You could think it was a good idea to ask me to become a pastor. I’m also glad You gave us a good picture of the people that were around You (warts and all). Even though there are moments that I wonder why the people I try to lead don’t “get it;” when I look at the folks You dealt with, I have to say that, on balance, my partners on this journey are pretty great!
So, where does that leave us? What did You do in those times? It looks like You phoned home. You got away from everyone else and got centered on Your mission, and Your Father, again. Maybe that is good advice for me. You promised that You wouldn’t break a bruised reed or snuff out a smoldering wick. I appreciate those promises, right now, because that is kind of how I feel… bruised and smoldering. From those words, I also gather that I am not the first (or last) person that deals with the smoldering wick of frustration. In fact, it seems like You may have designed us this way. Ecclesiastes 3 says that You have placed eternity in the human heart. So, there it lives, this brilliant bird struggling to be set free. Restrained by time, restrained by human limitations, restrained by fear; yet, while its presence in our hearts leads to frustration at what should be; its brightness lights the way to what could be. Otherwise, we would be satisfied with what is, and never reach what can be… what must be. In my message yesterday (or was it the day before), I asked our church if they were satisfied, and if not, were they dissatisfied enough to do something about it. Maybe now I am.
It’s dark again, next door. My neighbor’s cigarette is finished; and so is this rant… for now. Stay close, though. I may need to talk again, soon.