The Long March   8 comments

When we face life honestly, bravely, and resolutely, it slices us with a thousand little deaths: truths we are loathe to admit, securities that have blocked our growth, long-fostered hopes that end with a sudden blowout or gradual leak against every effort to re-inflate them.  As Kimberly and I prepare to move to Asheville, NC, we are “downsizing,” a smooth word corporations use to put a positive spin on frantically casting everything overboard to save a sinking ship–more like foundering than streamlining.

I had no trouble giving away excess clothes and unused dishes, but when I sold my weight set, it went out the door with my dreams of a buff body still draped over it.  To my wife it was a dust-collecting eye-sore, but when I sold that bench, I gave up on a promise and hope.  It was my final concession that this frumpy body is the one I will take to the grave.  I finally admitted honestly that it was a wasted dream, sitting idle for so many years because my real values lay elsewhere.  And that’s okay… it’s even good.  I want to live out my true values and not be distracted by false ones.  But the good road often forks away from the desirable one.  Being good and being happy are often incommensurable.

Stripping away possessions can be a stripping off of dreams and securities, groundings and trajectories, plans and expectations.  This morning as I drove my pickup filled with ministry books to donate to a local college, one phrase pounded through my head: “I hate my life!”  Those particular books sat in boxes in my basement for ten years, waiting, full of hope for a revived ministry of preaching or teaching or leading, some role to play in bringing God’s goodness into the world.  They hung heavy with past joys long gone: the delight in studying and sharing truth with others, the deep satisfaction of experiencing spiritual usefulness by sharing gifts to benefit others.

I have pursued the truth as relentlessly as I can, and it has brought me so much more insight and freedom, self-knowledge and character.  I know now that much of what I did before was streaked through with blindspots and immaturity and ungodliness.  I had a deeply flawed understanding of God.  I am in a far better place personally and spiritually because of all the breaking, but I had hoped to come to the other side of the struggle, to rediscover joy and peace and fulfillment at a new, fuller, more meaningful level.  But I am only tired, deeply tired, and crushed and broken-hearted.  I feel as though I am on a death-march, lifting one foot after the other in my hopeless, stubborn faith.

If this rings true for your own experience, may you be encouraged that you are not alone.  Let us call out to one another in the dark.

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Posted April 4, 2016 by janathangrace in Personal, Uncategorized

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8 responses to “The Long March

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  1. your new chapter in life bro?

  2. Matthew West – Hello, My Name Is (Lyrics). Incredible musician! If you haven’t heard of him….look him up on youtube. He’s preaching the truth in song. Don’t give up preaching God’s truth Kent. That’s what the enemy of our souls is happiest about! Remember that these struggles in life are temporary and your “thorn in the flesh” is something God can use to keep you needing Him! It’s not about US!

  3. I started this about two weeks ago. I take procrastination to a new level.

    Thanks for this man. I’ve been a part of an addiction recovery group for the last couple of years and I would find myself engaged in private conversations with many in the group who had been involved in ministry in the past, urging them to re-engage and to seek out opportunities again. What I learned along the way though and that many of them understood better than I did, is that the group was not some quick fix in order to be suitable for ministry again but that God longed for faithful obedience much more than their acts of service. I’ve heard that a hundred times thanks to Samuel’s words to Saul but to see men practicing it before my eyes was a new experience for me, powerful though.
    Richard Rohr has a quote in the beginning of his book ‘Breathing Under Water that reminds me of this truth, “These are the only genuine ideas, the ideas of the shipwrecked. All the rest is rhetoric, posturing farce.”
    May we stay on the path of the ‘shipwrecked’…even though is can really suck!!

    Hope the move is going well!

    • Thanks, Bret. Always good to hear from you. I am always available, open, welcoming of opportunities God places me in. Not being part of a community makes it difficult for me to find avenues of usefulness. Perhaps things in Asheville (if we can sell our house) my open new possibilities. But as you say, we must live in the muck of where we are, not where we wish to be.

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