Through The Glass, Darkly.


I performed at a festival in Goshen, Indiana Sunday with a few friends from around the country. After my set, a guy came up to tell me that there was something about my poetry that defied all of his logic, and that he was thankful for that. It gave him hope. I can't perfectly reiterate his story, but the gist of it was an emotionally driven conversion experience, met later with the questions that come from attempting to reconcile faith and reason, and wrestling with the unbelief left in the wake of his doubtful intellect. 

He said that the questions posed in my poem "Resentment" - lying in bed at night and wondering if I'd told the truth, modeling transparency though I'd missed privacy, wondering whether God was big enough to handle all of my fear, wondering whether God was at all, etc - gave him the comfort of knowing he was not the only one struggling to trust in the comfort of the Spirit. 

It was a great compliment. We talked about all truth being God's truth, about how we are not God, and about how the essence of faith necessitates trust in what we do not understand, cannot comprehend, and may not be able to see with full clarity in this lifetime… and how Satan attempts to use our desires to "love the Lord [our] God with all of [our]…mind[s]" to cloud and convolute the very truth we are seeking. 

The other day, my wife and I were reading the book of John, and I noticed something about the Pharisees: their arrogance. Specifically, arrogance rooted in knowledge, as though it was their understanding that made them righteous. I suppose that is typical of religion's holier-than-thouness, but I was interested in Jesus' critique of their position, "If you were blind, you would have no guilt, but now that you say, 'we see' your guilt remains." 

The Pharisees refused to listen to people "born in utter sin" (9:34), as though they were not. They built for themselves a pedestal on knowledge that puffs up, and all of their "understanding" became the very thing that blinded them to see Jesus for who he was. 

I think that Satan would love it if we all knew so much that we were blinded to who Jesus is. I think Satan loves it when we can't come to our father like children anymore - when we start to equate childlikeness with childishness and, in the wake of scholarship, lose all sense of wonder for who God is. 

How telling that our downfall was to eat from the tree of knowledge - but it's such a tricky thing to articulate, because Christians are not bullheaded robots, nor were we ever intended to be. Faith doesn't make you idiotic, and intellect doesn't make you unfaithful. The person who possesses the most knowledge can also be he who possesses the greatest awe and reverence for YHWH. 

All I'm saying is that it can be a struggle if we try to fit God into our finite reasoning when the ways that he works are often absurd. 

I love the juxtaposition of the pharisees against another biblical character - King David. There's a specific scene in scripture where the presence of God is coming to dwell in the city of David - this long before the incarnate word enters into Jerusalem - and the king begins dancing "before the Lord". He was not afraid to seem foolish before others out of worship unto God. (Now, I don't really know just how buckwild David got in this celebration - somehow I've always heard that he was dancing naked publicly, but that the position of his heart of was before God, so it was alright? I don't really know where anybody gets that from, because it's not what the text says.) At any rate, David is overcome with joy and dances in something other than his royal attire, and his wife is bitter and angry, telling him his behavior was vulgar and shameful, to which he responds:

"It was before the Lord… and I will celebrate before the Lord. I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in your eyes…" (2 Samuel 6:21-22)

So I'm not writing about these two stories because they're related, but because I relate to one, and want more deeply to relate to the other. I would love to worship Jesus with my mind, but I fear the pharisaical similarities threatening to make me blind to the object of my affection. I would love to dance before the Lord with all of the foolishness necessary to lose myself, forget about others, and adore the one true king, no matter how undignified I seem to be. 

It was neat receiving that compliment at the show on Sunday, though, because perhaps there is a bit of that foolish abandon in my poetry - something that cries out, "I am still a child." I want to honor you with my mind, but I want to trust you through this glass, darkly.