Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Boundary of Me

Part of what I love so much about writing is the eraser.  Before I ever produce something for publication, I get at least a hundred do overs.  I need those.  You wouldn't think I would have to erase or backspace anything in the meager lines you now read, but backspace I have indeed.  I would love to say that writing comes easily to me, but the truth is it doesn't.  Like most things in my life, I have to work really hard to produce anything of substance and to be honest, I'm not always sure what I write is "of substance." I try though and I hope it is, if not for all, then at least for some. In either case, I thank God for the eraser and backspace button.  It's like they were made just for me and I love them. Especially today.  As I type now, I sit in a hotel room in Vienna marveling over my current place in time and space.  I find myself torn between a bleeding desire to return home and a painful and curious determination to remain.  What will come of it all, I don't yet know.  I simply pray for the wisdom to recognize God's leading as it comes. And it  does come. Every fiber of my being knows He is directing my path, and so often it seems to be facing the opposite direction of where my feet aim to walk.  Sometimes run.  Have you ever walked backwards on a treadmill?  It's an odd feeling until you get used to the movement, and for me, being in Vienna has been a backwards walk on a treadmill that moves only forward.  To ease the feeling of inconsistency and incompatibility, I reach to turn it off, but the switch is just out of my grasp and I must continue.  My feet are somehow clumsily moving forward but facing what's behind, and I sense that in a way I'm stuck between two worlds. I have one foot out and one foot in, but into what?  I wonder still, but it seems the boundary is of me...

Since I've been here, there has been an enormous pressure to experience my life through the eyes of another.  I've felt that to find meaning in it all, I must go into waves that are rippled by the dipping finger of another.  What is important to my own journey and life progression has been deemed subservient to the purposes of those who have gone before me.  It has been unsettling and uncomfortable, but not without purpose.  I've asked the Lord many times why I'm here, and it seems it was never at all even about my studies at Sigmund Freud University.  It has gone much deeper than that.  There is a story being written and my own purposes in coming are but only a few words in a multi-page chapter that God writes as I type. What will this chapter hold?

I don't yet have that answer, but I suspect it's related in part to the removal of a speck in my eye (Matthew 7:5).  It began with a small itch and then irritated into a river of tears.  As I prayed in St. Stephens Cathedral this morning, a beautiful moment of pain washed over me as I saw the Pharisee looking back at me (Matthew 23) while I reflected.  In an instant I was hurt and humbled and moved to repentance.  I longed for the gaze of my Savior to be far from me, but it remained.  I could go nowhere from the new awareness I had and it felt wonderful and agonizing all at once. I was comforted only by the knowledge of Romans 5:20 that says where my sin is, grace is much more.  As I've met with people from all over the world in this last week I've come to realize that in my search for meaning on my own path, I must not neglect the needs that arise on theirs.  I have done this to a shameful degree, and with ready excuses of introversion and individuation, but perhaps I am needed by more than just me.

It seems the opposing forces that pull at me are equally important, but only one needs my attention for God will tend to the other. 1 John 4:7 tells us to "love one another" and if I'm being honest, I've not done this well in the time I've been here.  I've been so consumed with my own path that I've given little thought to the journeys of those around me.  I've prayed over each of them, but I've given nothing of myself to them.  John 15:13 says that there's no greater love than to lay down one's life for his friends, and although I've always interpreted this literally, I believe it runs deeper still.  We are to lay down our own life stories in order to pick up the pages of another.  I've fallen astonishingly short in this way during my Viennese stay thus far, but I find God's loving arms around me through Psalm 118:24 and Isaiah 43:19.  Each day really can be new and a fresh start truly is possible.  Whose story have you read lately? More importantly, in whose narrative are you now playing a role?  Will pages of the books written around you contain your name or will you be but a shadow? Galatians 5:13 says to serve one another in love.  I must ask myself today and all days who I'm serving in love.  Who are you serving in love? Whose story today will you be a part of tomorrow?  Perhaps we can reach out to others together, even if from afar. This, for me, is a struggle I must overcome, but overcome it I must if I am to serve as Jesus served.  I need not worry about my own needs, for God will meet them and care for me according to the promise in Philippians 4:19.  Instead, I must step outside of me and into others, even if my steps are initially quite small. In essence, I must step over the boundary of me.  What boundaries need to come down in your own life? 

"If anyone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother." - 1 John 4:20-21 

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