Thursday, August 13, 2009

I Need Thee

I might've saved myself the energy.
I used to privately question the motive for my Christianity.
It might help to explain that I am not, by nature, a grateful person. I dislike indebtedness to the extent that at times I prefer not to receive anything to save myself the bother of exhibiting gratitude. This reticence served to make me a little dubious about my sincerity toward God.
I didn't feel as if I was serving God out of love or gratitude. Honestly, 95% of the time, it seemed as if I were a Christian because I didn't know what else to be.
And I also speculated about the level of comfort and interest I held in Christianity.
Atheism, as a matter of personal taste, strikes me as insufferably boring.
Considering this, and further considering my lifelong fascination with the supernatural, my literary tastes and my thirst for meaning, and having come some fourteen years since my conversion, I had begun to call my motives into question.
Why was I calling myself a Christian?
Why was I praying? Why was I reading the Bible? Aside from a broad cyclical interest in what I was reading, and less occasionally, what I was discussing with God, when I placed my finger on my spiritual pulse, I wondered for what my heart was beating.
Contributing to this hypochondria was a fairly agreeable general state of affairs.
With life running smoothly, I permitted myself the luxury of the hypothetical, and reasoned that with nothing better to do, might have even Martin Luther considered the question of flies and holy water?
Meanwhile, when the sons of God came to present themselves, the conversation might have gone something like this,
"Have you considered my servant Nathan?"
(Accepting the huge assumption that I had, in fact, distinguished myself sufficiently in the Lord's service to have attracted the albeit unwelcome attention of the Adversary, we might then postulate Satan's reply,)
"I have. He really enjoys his Christianity. He appreciates the legacy of the age-old story, he finds comfort in apologetics, he loves to quote Chesterton and Lewis, if not your Son, and he also enjoys the lack of heartache that his Christian upbringing and marriage afford him."
"Of course," the serpent continues, "his affinity is fairly prosaic and the reason for his servitude is fairly obvious. He has yet to encounter anything subsequent to his conversion that would belie his sentimental attachment to a seventeen-year-old emotional experience."
And so on and so forth might the devil have unwittingly become complicit once again in a series of events inspired by the Almighty to drive one of his blustering children straight into His arms.
Devan became sick. Over a period of three months she degenerated to such a worrisome degree that some of the greater medical obscenities began to suggest themselves to our minds.
Despite my reassurances, which I did believe, (with no small effort) that this was the convergence of a physical super storm resulting from exhaustion, and other things, the duration of the illness and the severity of the relapses were beginning to steal my confidence.
At long last, I found myself doing something truly drastic.
I prayed, not just for her benefit, not just as the motion required of a Christian spouse, but finally, desperately and incredibly, at the end of myself.
You see, it isn't as if I'm all that self-reliant, or have aspirations of being the Rock of Gibraltar, it's that I refuse to face the point at which I have absolutely no other option than trusting in God. But I keep forgetting what a subjective term perseverance can be. I have noticed that I have a tendency to believe that I can only go as far as I am asked to go. If I'm carrying a one-hundred fifty pound load from point A to B, distance being twenty yards, I will invariably deposit the load at point B with the distinct impression that I could not have borne it any further. And yet, were the distance thirty yards, I would have reached that point, with the same conviction.
God alone knows our limits.
Past a certain point in our limited perspective of pain, that is the strongest hope to which we can cling.
What does sufficient grace mean to you?
I know what it once meant to me. It meant enough grace to keep me from feeling over-extended. It now means so much more, because I over-extended.
And I found out that He is out there, over the edge of the cliff.
He is not what saves us from pain, He is the One who is there at the end of all pain, and, in hindsight, was there though all the pain, and allowed us, after all, to see only the tip of the iceberg. Because of His tender mercy.
But there is a moment of terror that I must endure before I acknowledge that I can't handle this. More than a convulsive ingestion of pride, it is also a deep fear of being denied; of laying my burden in indifferent hands that will let it slide off into the dirt.
I usually excuse this reluctance by labeling it a lack of faith in faith. (Mindful that this constitutes another entire thread, I'll step carefully over it.)
But, believe it or not, I have not forgotten my initial statement about saving myself the energy expended by questioning my motive for my relationship with the Lord.
It would seem, as I hashed it out over these last three months, I serve God because I need Him.
I don't need Him just as an insurance policy when I check out. I need Him hourly, desperately.
And so does Devan.

1 comment:

Bill & Marsha said...

Yes!"...I need Thee,oh,Ineed Thee;Ev-'ry hour Ineed Thee!Oh,bless me now,my Sav-iour;I come to To Thee! Thanks Nate for reminding us.