And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none. -- Ezekiel 22:30
Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, Be taken up and thrown into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. -- Mark 11:23
I am far from perfection, so it seems. Yet, there is this: that I have put my faith in Christ Jesus, identifying with Him in His death. Whether I understand it or not, whether I can fully accept and appreciate it or not, I have been crucified with Christ. My problem is that I see so much that I do wrong. Possibly even more discouraging is what I might do in the future.
If you have ever dealt with a habit you wanted to break, tried to diet, keep up an exercise regime, or break an addiction, you know what I mean. It’s the future that ruins it because it is a lot easier to quit tomorrow or do right tomorrow than it is today. To break out of an addiction, a person has to stop believing in tomorrow. Yes, I know, Fleetwood Mac. The truth is tomorrow is always tomorrow. Today is the day of salvation.
In order to live the crucified life, I have to live solely in the now. I have to reject my old nature now, right this minute. That’s all I have to do. I don’t have to worry about tomorrow with its future trials and future failures because I can only fail or succeed in this moment. Christ is in me and in control of my life only in this moment. I am only going to overcome my bad temper or succumb to it in this moment. It cannot happen any other time, because there is no other time.
We talked yesterday about not yet being able to move mountains until we take care of ourselves and get our own hearts right. We can't wait until tomorrow for that. We get ourselves in alignment in Christ right now. Just like eating too much carrot cake and ruining a diet, walking in the truth of who we are in Christ takes place right now. Once we realize that, it changes everything. Self-doubt is gone because self is gone. We are connected to the Father just as Jesus was in the Incarnation. The branch is connected to the Root through the Vine, but it is no less connected than the Vine. It’s all one.
The place I began to understand this was public speaking, of all things. I was always a very shy person. I was stricken with panic that someone would notice me. I would hide when people came to visit our house. My fear was that someone would notice me and make fun of me. It wasn’t humility but self-consciousness. I could not bear to be mocked or ridiculed. Since I was, throughout grade school and high school, physically intimidating, I could control some of it by inflicting pain on my oppressors. Some accused me of being a bully. I guess it was true, but I don’t recall bullying anybody that left me alone. It may not have taken much to set me off, but I never started anything.
Being pulled up to the front of the class to race against another student doing arithmetic was no problem because I was facing the blackboard. If I ever had to turn around and face the class, it was a different matter. I never got over that. Any time I had to get up in front of people, and, really, even talking one on one, I couldn’t face people without nearly debilitating panic. I carefully avoided Speech in both high school and college, going so far as to take French to get the Fine Arts credits I needed.
Imagine, then, how I felt when my pastor asked me to teach an adult Sunday School class. He was a wise man. The first couple of times were as painful for the class as they were for me, but I learned to leave my self somewhere else and stand up in the “role” for that forty-five minutes or an hour. I ended up filling the role of “teacher” in five or six different churches under different pastors, occasionally speaking on Sunday morning, Sunday evening, or Wednesday night. Learning to step out of self and into Christ did more for me as a Christian than anything else I can think of.
One of the things negative thoughts such as fear, dread, despair, shame, guilt, and regret do is show us where self is. Like pride and lust, greed and envy, they mark the boundaries of self. When we step away from and out of those negative emotions and desires, we step into Christ.
I cannot move mountains. Jesus doesn’t say that I can. He says, “… it will be done for him.” My part is to believe today. The question of when and how and even if our mountain will be moved is not ours to resolve.
We see this mountain before us. I fear for my children and grandchildren. I am concerned about the direction the nation is going because I love my country (my government, not so much). A part of me wants to turn back the clock and restore all the values we had when I was growing up. Turning back time is not possible. I’m not even sure that is a good idea. I have a lot in common with my Amish neighbors, but never go full Amish.
A lot of society is rotting and decaying. I won’t call it gangrenous because it is already detached from Reality, already dead and withering, for that reason. People are going to try desperately to save what is not worth saving and cannot be saved.
We are not going to make that mistake. We are going to put off self, put on Christ, and stand in faith to make up the breach and stand, like Aaron, between the living and dead. The mountain is moving. Don’t be surprised if the ground shakes.