Tuesday, March 17, 2009

tight rope walker

from Celebration of Discipline" by Richard Foster:

"Picture a long, narrow ridge with a sheer drop-off on either side. The chasm to the right is the way of moral bankruptcy through human strivings for righteousness. Historically this has been called the heresy of moralism. The chasm to the left is moral bankruptcy through the absence of human strivings. This has been called the heresy of antinomianism. On the ridge there is a path, the Disciplines of the spiritual life. This path leads to the inner transformation and healing for which we seek. We must never veer off to the right or to the left, but stay on the path. The path is fraught with severe difficulties, but also with incredible joys. As we travel on this path, the blessing of God will come upon us and reconstruct us into the image of Jesus Christ. We must always remember that the path does not produce the change; it only places us where the change can occur. This is the path of disciplined grace."

i've been wrestling much, wondering what it is God wants from me. does he want me to try to transform myself? or does he want me to wait for him to do all the transforming? i've used many biblical examples to convince others that we must first step into the red sea before he parts the waters, or take our isaacs to the altar before he provides the ram. so, i know there is a step of action involved. and there is a step of faith in the waiting. i get mixed up when i'm out of balance, when i'm either trying too hard or waiting too lazily. in either case, i'm frustrated.

i go back to this passage from foster's book because it is a visual, and i'm a visual person. it gives me this image of walking down a narrow ridge and balancing - not wanting to fall off to the left in not doing anything, but not wanting to fall off to the right, either, in doing it all on my own.

but like a tight rope walker, i need tools. what are my balancing tools? what is my long stick that i hold onto to keep balanced? do i have special shoes that grip to the rope? tools! i need tools!!! i don't know how to keep the balance of surrender and effort, of doing and resting, of hoping and trusting, of waiting and moving. and i'm so close to jumping off the rope entirely, giving up, not trying, not hoping, not waiting...just falling. and at this point i don't even notice or care if there's a safety net...i just want off the rope.

and i think the tools Foster is describing are the spiritual disciplines of the faith: meditation, prayer, fasting, study, simplicity, solitude, submission, service, confession, worship, guidance, celebration. but for whatever reason, i don't feel like i can do these disciplines without inevitably falling off to the right, and doing everything on my own. these disciplines have gotten me this far in my faith, and yet i feel like i want to, need to get further, and these tools aren't enough? could that be?

i know i'll be on this rope always this side of heaven. so, i'm convinced i need some tools to help me balance, because every day i'm missing the equation that yields doing just the right thing to feel like i'm changing, transforming, somehow being better than yesterday.

to try, or not to try, that is my question.


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