Broken-down Poetry: on Redemption


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Friday, December 25, 2009

on Redemption

I love this city, but I've set and numbered its days
I love this city, enough that I'll set it ablaze

Lots of things have died this year. I mean this figuratively, of course, but the pain is no less real.

I've lost good friends. I've attended the funeral of my RELEVANT dreams. I've mourned the loss of crushes. My ambitions were murdered; my pride suffocated.

I was the one who pulled the plug on most of those. I made the decision to take them off life-support, to say my final goodbyes, and lay them in the earth. It was me. It was my decision.

And I say I've seen a lot die this year, but I've seen more die in previous years. Ever since I read that passage in Ezekiel - Son of man, I'm about to take from you the delight of your life—a real blow, I know. But, please, no tears. - I've routinely killed my dreams.

I am the knife-wielding Abraham on Mt. Moriah, but with no angel to stop me.
I am the farmer on the seventh year, letting my fields dry up.

It feels like I spend so much of my life giving things up. Is there anything I can keep?


I pray for redemption.

I sat in the Williams' prayer chapel a month ago, asking God to redeem something in my life. And oh, He redeemed it - by setting it on fire.

That is redemption after all, is it not? It's the refinement of gold in fire. It's transforming what's unholy into something holy.
Therefore all that is not beautiful in the beloved, all that comes between and is not of love's kind, must be destroyed. And our God is a consuming fire.
I keep asking for redemption: "Oh Lord, that I may live according to your will." Or, "Make this job/relationship/hobby yours."

And so God does what is asked of Him. He redeems. He puts my love (my ambitions, my crushes, my relationships) into the fire and sees what happens.

Whatever is not in His will - burns up. It falls apart.

I don't mean this is a BEHOLD THE WRATH OF GOD! sense, really. I don't think God sets things on fire for fun. But when I ask him to redeem something, he does it, and it hurts.

I suppose we let God redeem things because we expect something new or polished in return. We "give God our relationships," assuming he'll point us to the love our life. We "give God our finances," assuming big bucks will come our way.

It doesn't always work like that. Sometimes the fire kills. Sometimes our dreams don't play possum, but stay dead on the side of the road.


The worship band played "The Old Rugged Cross" in church this morning. I think I sang along sarcastically:

I will cling to the old rugged cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down

Like I've said, I've seen a lot die this year. I've had to give up a lot. It's not about laying my trophies down "at last." (My bitterness is speaking, mind you.) It's more like: God, I've laid down every last one of them. I cling to the cross in fear that you'll take that away too! That's what I picture, anyway. I'm clinging to something for dear life, not because I believe my sacrifices will make my life any better, but because if I don't have anything else to cling to.

Is this the Christian life? Sacrifice after sacrifice, death after death?

God promised me a resurrected life. He promised me that every seed will die before it grows. Where is this growth?

We're in the dead of winter. (Read that again for its irony.)

Bradley Hathaway wrote, "Grace grows in winter, I'm told."

Grace grows in winter when everything else dies. Ugh.

I yearn for Grace. I want God to show His face in these crummy circumstances.

I'm sick of making sacrifices.
I'm sick of seeing my friends make sacrifices.
I'm sick of hope with no follow-through.

More questions than answers - I know. This may be the nature of blogging. Or at least the nature of my blogging.

With love and squalor,

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