Mother Teresa...

I was reading Time magazine today and they have a great article on "The Saint of the Gutters"...Mother Teresa. It accents the dark side of her life...the thoughts, the doubts, the faithlessness, the lonliness, the emptiness. In a warped sort of way, it's encouraging. I find myself feeling these pangs myself even in the midst of what should, humanly speaking, satisfy.

Listen to her deepest, darkest musings..
"Lord, my God, who am I that You should forsake me? The Child of Your love--and now become as the most hated one--the one--You have thrown away as unwanted--unloved. I call, I cling, I want--and there is no One to answer--no One on Whom I can cling--no--No One.--Alone...Where is my Faith--even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness and darkness--My God--how painful is this unknown pain--I have no Faith--I dare not utter the words and thoughts that crowd in my heart--and make me suffer untold agony. So many unanswered questions live within me afraid to uncovewr them--because of the blasphemy--If there be God--please forgive me--When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven--there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul.--I am told God loves me--and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul. Did I make a mistake in surrendering blindly to the Call of the Sacred Heart? - addressed to Jesus, at the suggestion of a confessor, undated.

Unanswered questions are frustrating, indeed. But as a child of religious stock, I find myself more frustrated with Unquestioned answers. All these truths that have remained uninvestigated and untested by Time, Tradition, and Truth...not to mention the natural, sensical, and universal means of determining the merit and veracity of a proposition. We have followed for many years the mere inventions of man, we call them interpretations, but they more closely resemble inventions, fabrications of well-meaning humans genuinely seeking, in some senses, to master God. The mastery of God, Theology, has long been deemed untouchable, a truth not to meddled with by the likes of children, peasants, and unlearned fools. As such, we accept things at face value thinking to ourselves, "Men and women smarter than I have already explored the deepest recesses of God and have made judgements and value judgements that are as inspired as the original autographs themselves. I must bow to their translation and capitulate." And we do, I do.

Though the writings and understanding of Calvin, Wycliffe, Luther, Wesley, Tozer, Edwards, and Whitefield should inspire and inform our perspective on Truth-Himself and truth-commentary, we cannot underestimate the need to call into question, every now and again, the claims of any faith. If a faith can't stand the pressure of introspection and investigation, it is not worthy of allegiance. Have we not witnessed gross disfigurments of God's face in generations past that required contrite apology and humble admittance of failure to question hard, fast assertions made by culturely blinded saints? Atrocity upon atrocity has been committed in the name of God...and so many hallowed saints of the past have since been exposed to be the humans that they were, and in many senses, never were trying to hide that they were all along. It is only in our desire to embalm and enshrine these humble souls that we have in fact contributed to the great deception of Christianity. As unintentional as the deception may or may not be I cannot say, all I know is that we must acknowledge the cover-up of our humiliations, our dark doubts, our own abyss of emptiness, our own depressive musings, our own faithless fleeces, our own double-minded instabilities, our own perplexing perspecitives, our own hidden hollowness of heart...when we downplay these realities and accent the perma-grin...we, in my opinion, do a great disservice to the cause of Christ and His Kingdom.

I was reading Thomas 'a Kempis today and the intro caused me to hault with violent force. Here is the paragraph that caused such a drastic reaction...

"At the age of 20, after deciding to dedicate his life to serving God, Thomas entered a monastery at Zwolle in the Netherlands. As a monk, he led a serene and uneventful life until 1471 when he died at the age of ninety-one. Some described Thomas a' Kempis as a shy, genial man who liked 'books and quiet corners all his days.'"

Don't get me wrong, I love his book, Of the Imitation of Christ, but I have be bothered by this description of a man who is taking it upon himself to writing about how to live a life patterned after our Lord. For some reason living "a serene, uneventful life as a shy, genial man reading books in quiet corners" doesn't seem to be a great imitation of Christ. In fact, I would propose that Jesus lived his life just the opposite. It wasn't shy, it was bold. It wasn't serene, it was dicey. It wasn't uneventful, it was as John said so eventful that the world itself could not contain the books that could be written about Him. It wasn't spent just reading books, it was living life among the people in the culture. And it certainly wasn't characterized with isolation in some quaint corner, it was broken and poured out in the streets of society. Though the monastic lifestyle has its draws to me, and though there are many things I try to emulate in the desert fathers and their contemplative way of life, I just don't understand how you could read the Scriptures and assume this sort of existance based on the raw footage therein.

But this is why it is important to always be injesting the meat and spitting out the bones. My life included. I only have to look back over the last 11 years of my ministry and I'm already saddened by the stupidity of certain seasons of my life and the things I was teaching. I am flawed utterly and completely. Apart from God's grace, my ministry is a fine collection of dumpster diving and trash collecting. It is only God who redeems the empty can that I am. How could I do anything but lay out the truth humbly?

Unquestioned answers are in many ways more dangerous than unanswered questions. I hope that I will always give myself to the zealous pursuit of straining easy answers through humble inquiry. The preservation of truth seems to hinge on it.


LeslieKayK said…
Unquestioned answers. I love it! Your blogs really encourage and bless me Jason. Thank you for your transparency. It's both rare and refreshing.

This comment has been removed by the author.
ja. for the sake of rekindling our long lost friendship, i thought that i'd ask you ... what "unquestioned answers" are surfacing in your life right now? i look forward to hearing from you bro. :)

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