You Can’t Get There From Here

Not sure how the joke goes…

Something about a guy asking for directions and an old guy making that statement.

I feel depressed and frustrated. 

Life always feels so distant from what I wanted it to be.  Happiness, contentment, peace, joy, love seem so elusive, mirage like in their ability look so close, appear as possible, only to evaporate as I grasp at them.

I try to be a better husband, better father, better man.  I try to love more, hate less, not cuss.  I try to help, not complain, not be a jerk.

But I fail.  Over and over.

I talk to God.  “Can’t you make me better?  Can’t you make my faith stronger?  Can’t you make me want to try?”

And I hear Him say, “you can’t get there from here.”

All religions (including “christianity”) are based on the idea of trying harder, becoming “better” people.  And they all fail.  We hold up saints and monks and zealots and clergy as examples of how religion succeeds, ignoring the reality and embracing the legends we’ve made up.  Destroyed and disillusioned when we find out they were human after all.

And most watch us and shake their heads, knowing we pursue a lie that no one can attain.

You can’t get there from here.

Can’t we just backtrack?  Go back to the good old days?  Maybe there are multiple paths, maybe all religions have the same ultimate goal.

But the cross stands over us.  Not as a way to make us be better but simply to open a door.

Paul said his righteousness was as filthy rags (menstrual cloths to be precise).  The prophet Isaiah agreed.  Our best efforts, though nobly given, don’t make a crack in the wall that separates us from what God intended.

Somehow, I have a feeling that the lonely single mom, the addict, the father who worked everyday in a nowhere job, all the “losers” that pursued Jesus, through failure, through the valleys may receive a heartier “well done” than all the preachers combined. And when we stand before Him, there will be no shame, no disappointment, only a realization that He was always there, always with us.

I’m still sad that I’m not “better”. But, I think I’ll quit thinking about me so much and just fix my eyes on Him.

Angry, tired and frustrated

I had all sorts of great titles running through my head this morning but they wouldn’t have been honest.

I have been sick for the past week.  Suffering from vertigo, looking at perhaps a long recovery time.  Hearing the words I’ve written to others but not feeling them, not believing them.  Remembering the dreams and hopes that I laid down, taking them back off the altar and wanting so bad for them to come true.

So, this morning I face a new day.  I am debilitated.  I weigh too much.  I am so out of shape and so far from what God designed me for.

A light breaks over my heart right now, in this moment.  It is the backdrop for the cross in my life.  Will I pick it up again?  Will I deny myself and follow Him?  I’ve seen too much, been through too much to believe that my will can accomplish anything good.  I struggle and fume, maybe this time, maybe I’ll win.

Satan throws at me every self-made man, every wealthy success story.  Those who have the cars, the house, the power position.  He lets me know what he offers.

And I reject it.

I want to be the hero of my own story.  I want to be the one who submitted his will so fully to Jesus that He has only to nudge and I’m there, He has only to call and I’ll answer.  I want to be the one who lays everything down and lets JESUS shine through.

That’s a life worth living.

What are you looking at?

I used to train horses.  I taught people to ride.  One of the beginning elements that I would try to get people to understand, get myself to understand is the sensitivity of a horse.  They look big and powerful.  The old westerns always showed people kicking their heels (with spurs, no less) into the horse’s sides and galloping away.

Horses don’t need to be kicked.

I might get frustrated, see the horse doing everything wrong.  My students would yell about how stubborn or stupid their horse was.  But it wasn’t the horses fault, sometimes.

What are you looking at?

Our eyes often dictate the direction of our bodies.  If I am looking at the ground, it changes the physical attitude of my body.  If I look left, or right, my body feels different.  If I am inwardly focused, it affects my muscles, my bones.  If I am concentrating on a particular point, it tenses my body, makes it more rigid.

A horse senses all these things and will respond accordingly.  Sometimes they will take advantage of you.  Sometimes they will try to act on what they sense you are wanting them to do.  And you can assist them in learning, in training, by adjusting your focus.

People are making resolutions, trying to fulfill them, maybe already failing on them.  It’s what we do every January.  I am doing it too.  Trying to exercise again, be more diligent in prayer, in the Word.  I can feel my feet, my heart beginning to falter, again.

So, I ask again.  What are you looking at?

“Let us run with endurance the race set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…”  (Hebrews 12)