Thursday, February 3, 2011

Will You Follow? Dissection (Pt. 1)

I apologise for the postponement of this entry. Around this time last year, there was a lot of upheaval in my life that did not settle down for a long while. I was officially moved with my parents by the end of May, but for a while afterward I did not have internet connection and there was many issues and roadblocks with that. Eventually, we got internet, but by that point, I had no inspiration to dissect this allegory and write this entry. I wanted to wait until I got that, until I had thoughts to put down for this.

Now, nearly an entire year later, here I am. I have the first half done (yes, I do recall saying that there would only be one more post, but you have waited long enough -- I have one half done, why not have it now?). I suppose it is fitting that the dissection is in two parts just as the story was posted in thus a manner. The second half is coming soon (I know I said that last time, a year ago, but as soon as I hit post I am getting back to work on the other part! I just need to not run into lack of inspiration and thought, yes?).

Please bear in mind this is an allegory, not everything is always literal, not everything is always figurative. God give you proper revelation and be with you.

I am open to hearing the thoughts of others on both my own thoughts and the story. Anything that sparks something with you? Something noteworthy to note? A revelation, a tidbit of comment, anything of interest?

Will You Follow?
Part 1

As per my usual arrangement, I knelt on both knees to speak to Him again, head to the floor, and said the words—told Him I desired to be right where He was and that I wanted to do His will. My words sincere, my heart of an according desire to the claims I made, I laid my life before Him with an honest wish to be used. I knew His will was perfect and good, and I wanted to do it. 

We all have, at some point, made such a claim before Him, whether or not we ourselves were physically prostrate before Him or simply so in our hearts, our spirits.

With a deep breath, I made to stand from my bow and return to my regular routine, my words spoken, my plea laid before Him. When a hand against my arm surprised me, I was drawn to my feet, eyes lifted to see Him standing before me. For a moment, I was frozen in place as He drew me into His embrace, and I, struck still, simply took it in. This was unexpected, but no less wonderful.

Sometimes our prayers have become so routine, our pleas to be used and make a difference so oft-spoken that, even, they become almost casual and habitual, customary, standard. Sometimes, our words become so regularly prayed, that we almost forget the power of them. We tend to become taken off guard when He answers, when He gives us the opportunity we’ve prayed for, when He comes with direction.

His aura of light surrounded me then; it flowed around me; I was reminded that He is always with me, every second of every day—and this not only when I am praying, but in the moments I never think about. Then He pulled back, His open gaze piercing straight through me, from core to soul, marrow to spirit. The instruction was clear: ‘Follow Me.’

‘Wherever You take me, Lord,’ I answered, ‘I want to do Your will, no matter what it is.’

How many of us have prayed these words when we know His directive for us? ‘Follow Me.’ How many of us have? I would not doubt quite a few of us do pray such an answer when we know the directive.

He turned away then and I knew intuitively to follow in His wake, and follow Him I did. Down many paths, bridges, and streets, we went—many a place I recognised. We saw the middle-class man struggling to make ends meet; the poor suffering midst their needs; the rich in their schemes and plans; saw the church buildings with many a fine d├ęcor and well-kept structures; the business men; the pastors; the musicians; the young and the old.

So we follow Him through our lives; these pictures, this fictional tale, is an allegory of both literal and figurative means, for God calls us all, but He calls us each to something different than the other, and our “places” (meaning the places mentioned in the story) are literal and/or figurative, depending on the individual tale of each person’s walk with the Lord. Keep this in mind for the rest of the allegory, for not all will be literal and not all will be figurative in your life, but if you stay open to where God is leading you, you don’t have to worry because He has the what’s-what and all know-how figured out and He won’t leave you floundering, but rather will keep on showing you the way as long as you stick with Him to see it.

We passed all by, and still He led me on; cracked pavement and rundown buildings we saw, and still we walked—past the graffiti, the trashy streets, the homeless, the broken, the hungry; walking deeper into the dirtiest of my society, where an oppressive atmosphere stilled my breath, we went, He without pause and I with inward, but as yet not controlling, hesitation . My skin felt as if it were crawling with the filth -like it was staining me- as we walked the littered and shoddy streets, and foreboding curled inside me as we past wall after wall stained with the scrawl of depravity and the writing of a blatant disregard—and this (disregard) a most common and usual type of our world’s lack of honour for the higher.

A creepy sense tingled on my spine, as always happened when I had to travel through these areas. The feeling of danger in the air, the oppressiveness, the whisper and promise of evil fluttering and leeching through the atmosphere and tickling my ears—these tingled in my perception, tickling my consciousness and bombarding the plain of my mind’s eye. Perhaps such appearances feel that way because I have been brainwashed and programmed to associate evil and danger with simply the outward appearance of a neighbourhood. Lock all locks, close all openings, and hurry through—huddle down and keep a low profile—try to be as unnoticed as possible to avoid the dangers of this area of my society. It all left me with a sense of horror, of foreboding; perhaps fear is the best word for it.

Perhaps it is literally a walk through a neighbourhood like this. Maybe it is a time of shadow in our lives, the metaphorical storms that darkened the vistas of our lives; a moment (or many) in our existence on earth in which everything seems to go wrong, a sense of constant oppression (of whatever and whatever; I trust you can identify your own) hangs over and bears down upon us; these are dark blots upon our memories.

In deeper we walked, my eyes darting to and fro as I followed He who seemed not to notice the atmosphere we traversed farther into. I kept glancing all over, at all the dangers around us, yet He walked by unperturbed, as if He did not see and did not pay any mind or care to it, until at last all faded away into opaque black and my steps faltered and slowed while He strode ever onward without missing a beat or step.

Something inside of me balked as I watched Him go, as His confident stride took Him in among the darkness. Directly and without any meandering, into the dark swirling midst He walked, shining brightly in stark contrast to the black around Him. Indeed, unhindered, the pure white of His light was not dimmed as He walked brazenly into the midst of that sea, and I knew then where He had led me.

He had taken me to the thieves, the thugs, the murderers and rapists. Did He not know the danger He had brought me to? He could not be harmed, but did He not know it was not safe here for me?

Is this a literal picture? Perhaps. Is this figurative? Perhaps. I cannot say one way or the other for others, but I can say until this moment in time (who can truly say about the future in entire detail?) for me this has been figurative. Nay, He has not led me to a ministry and a place of serving Him that has been near/among thieves, thugs, murderers and rapists, and all other manner of the worst of our society’s depravation and crime—but I have been in amidst a “dangerous situation,” a place that holds the potential of some kind of and degree of harm to me (that is not always of a literal life-threatening circumstance; but these words cover much, true to allegorical form). Thus that being said, I present a question that you alone can answer.

What do your thieves, thugs, murderers and rapists look like?

He walked deeper in and yet I could not bear to follow any further. My feet had become leaden, my heart was a lump in my throat, fear making me tremble. He did not stop, did not turn back; He walked only forward to mingle with those that had no love for Him, those that held no qualms about dealing harm to someone like me. Some noticed me, which chilled my bones and stilled my heart. I remained at my distance, unmoving.

I would go no further, and yet on He walked.

    Matthew 9:12 -- But when Jesus heard [that], He said unto them, ‘They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.’ (KJV)
    This is why I say He “mingled with those ...” Not that He became like them, nor that He associated Himself (what communion does Light have with Dark?) with them, but that He came to minister some kind of ministry to them. I felt this was an important distinction to make and an important reality to bear in mind. For some, their thieves, etc., look exactly like that—for He has called them to minister some kind of ministry to the “lowlifes” (shall we say).

Something inside of me reared back, bile rose in my throat, a heavy fog clouding my mind, and I knew I could not go this way He wanted me to. This could not be right. I felt fear like a giant seal my fate—the only way for me was back the way I had come. I could not take another step in this direction; it was not safe for me to walk in among those whom He moved easily right through.

As He began to disappear amongst that black, swirling sea of evil and darkness, the hesitance that stilled me broke and I found movement. My leaden feet turned quickly and fled up the street, speedy and light, as I returned back the way we had come. My skin was crawling, my heart was hammering, trembles shook my spirit as I rushed past all I had noticed before—the trashy streets, the graffiti, the broken needles, the cigarettes and dirty paraphernalia that one would expect in this place, the blackest of our society. Past dark alleys, I ran, where I knew the drug-dealers turned business, the whores and the streetwalkers, and every other danger that I knew lurked here.

Why had He led me here? Did He not care about me?

I could not come here; it was surely harmful for me.

It seems ever our natural (by virtue of its nature being common and usual) and instinctual response to first assume, first feel, first think that if something unpleasant or unsatisfactory to our preconceived (finite) views happens, occurs, or comes about, that He must surely not be caring for us. This, while seemingly second nature, needs to be, and I believe it can be, relearned—for if we redeem our minds, we can combat every notion of our fallen essence when our enemy seeks to convince us that in some way or another the Lord is holding out on us.

I ran, not stopping for a moment, all I passed a blur, fear spurring my feet on; I dodged people; I shied away from any I passed; I swallowed the fear that was closing off my throat, and I kept up the pace, praying I made it out of here safe and sound, alive and unharmed. I was alone; I was horrified; and I was scared witless. All I knew was that I needed to be anywhere but this place.

I barely noticed as I left some of the filth behind, as the world around me began to become a little cleaner. I passed the humble, sprawling structures of broken church buildings, where I doubted any ever met anymore or that any cared much about; I ran on with fear driving me until I came to a place I was familiar with, and knew that I could rest.

I did not stop when I left behind the dark alleyways, the graffiti-stricken walls, and ominous structures that filled me with foreboding. I ran until at last all trace of it had faded behind me and I found a well-kept, clean church structure, and I sought solace inside its walls. I rushed into the sanctuary, to find a dark corner to hide in from any and everyone.

When we have stumbled like this, is it not part of our response to take off for a place where we feel safe and comforted? Perhaps we hope that the reminder of the fact that He loves us will erase our guilt, but really what we are pursuing is a chance to gloss over what we’ve done without addressing it and dealing with it. However, contrary to our pursuits, what He wants us to do is to face what we have done, confess, and once more throw off our sin(s) and repent. Repentance is not always easy, and thus not always what we seek very readily to do at first.

It was not until I collapsed in a place that made me feel safe and secure that I allowed myself to acknowledge the shame I felt for running. My throat closed off, and my eyes pricked as I pondered what I had done. I warred within myself, between the betrayal I felt was dealt to me, that He had led me to such a place without so much as consulting me, and the betrayal I myself had indeed committed. My gaze roamed the sanctuary from my safe perch, hidden away where no one could find me and see me like this. 

BarlowGirl said it best, I believe, when Alyssa wrote/sang, “You’ve never failed me before, why do I feel betrayed? If I close my heart to You now, the darkness would have its way.”

‘Wherever You take me, Lord. I want to do Your will, no matter what it is.’

My words rang in my mind as my eyes fell upon the altar; the declaration repeating again and again until I wanted to plug my ears to silence the voice of my conscience. The injustice I felt had faded away in the face of my words, and remorse burned hotly in me until I wanted to curl up and die, so ashamed was I.

The guilt was overbearing, the shame great, and I buried my face and gave into the tears, a broken vessel with nowhere left to run, hiding away in a dark corner of purely-selfish protection.

And I was ashamed.

Should we not run to Him, instead? When we fall down, should we not get up and face Him with repentance and then turn and do exactly that? What I mean is this: Repentance comes from the word repent, which meansyou were going one way, you turn around and go the other. In a very literal picture, it is like you ‘foot again’ the area you had crossed, only you are footing back’ the other direction. You stop going the wrong way, and you go the right way—like when you are driving, make a wrong turn, and are driving down a (one-way) road the wrong way: if you turn around, you are no longer facing the wrong direction, going the wrong way, but rather you are now facing the right direction, going the right way, yes? A total turn-around. A complete change. We do exactly that, repent—we flip a 180 and start going the right direction. We confess and we repent, and we get back on track. We should run to Him, instead, with repentance when we fall down—not shy away and hide ourselves in shame, but come to Him in repentanceshould we not?

I had told Him I would go wherever He led, I would do His will no matter what it was, and at the first sign of trouble, I ran.

I ran and hid.


Thus ends the first part of this dissection. At this point in the day (when I started this post, I realised I had some editing I needed to do for this first part again), I am feeling brain-fried. I had to rewrite that last paragraph of the dissection and even now I cannot tell you if it makes sense. I guess I would like some feedback on those thoughts, even (or especially if) they are convoluted.

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