Join me in flogging me...

On Monday I was driving to a counseling appointment. My counseling appointment. To clarify further, the appointment where I am the recipient of counseling. There, I said it. I periodically go to counseling. The pastor gets pastored. The counselor becomes the counselee. I find counseling to be cathartic. A bloodletting of sorts. The pitfalls I've averted along the way due to this occasional checkup are innumerable.

It was snowing and the roads were 6-out-of-10-bad for the state of Michigan. Lots of slush due to plowing budgets cuts, so-so visibility, and icy blacktop under thin layers of packed snow made the journey not just a little exciting.

As I passed through Saranac moving south toward 96, I was trailing a car that seemed to be having some difficulty keeping 'er on the pavement, if you will. I didn't have good feelings about this persons capacity to handle inclement conditions. My gut feelings proved to be a harbinger of what was to come.

In a matter of moments I watched "said" car slide off the road and into the ditch (almost in slow motion). I was already about 15 minutes late to my appointment, so I had a conundrum on my hands. Do I stop and ethically offend the guy waiting in his office for me, or do I ethically live in denial of this guy who just slid off the road and is in need of some assistance and let him fend for himself? "What is the lesser of two evils?" became the situational ethics I was wrestling to reconcile.

I chose to pull around the aforementioned car and knowing that there were 2 cars behind me that would (surely) stop and carry out there Samaritanian duties. It was the weirdest feeling driving by this unfortunate mishap trying to make like I didn't see it. I was trying to justify my decision with all sorts of rationale that backed up my stance. But no matter how hard I tried to dismiss my guilt and assuage my sickened conscience, it would have none of it. I might as well have been a witness to an old lady being bludgeoned in the street only to sit and watch with moral indifference. As the scene passed from my rear view mirror, I was ravished by thoughts like: "You are not even a Christian." "You are the biggest Pharisee ever." And the thoughts kept piling on the closer I got to my destination. I tried to shake them as best I could before entering the office and sitting on the couch, letting my heart run wild in conversation. To some degree, because I've unfortunately mastered the art of compartmentalization over the years, I was able to block out the conviction for the time being as I entered into a conversation with my friend/counselor.

But as soon as I left his office and headed home, the memory of what I had done started to pester me again reminding me of my hypocrisy.

As I backtracked toward my home, I knew that I would be passing the very spot where the car slid into the ditch being reminded of my iniquity. Sure enough, I turned the corner and could see from a distance the car had slid further into the deep ditch, the owner of the car standing on the side of the road with his phone pressed up against his ear. Even after an hour and a half, still no one had come to his aide.

But another dilemma presented itself to me. I had run over in my time with my sage/counselor and was running late in getting home. I hate when I tell my wife I'll be home by a certain time only to be tardy. "Tardy" and "Retardy" are shame-names that cling to me like stink on a monkey. So as I approached the man and his car, another scene of situational ethics collided inside me. Shall I sin against this man or my wife. It could be that my recent preachings on the subject of elevating my wife to a higher plain than she often gets elevated to had something to do with the conclusion that I was coming to, but my brain and heart were warring and the "summation" of their war was this--do not sin against your wife...again.

Once again, I veered my car to the right and struggled to avoid eye contact with this guy standing in the slush on the shoulder of the two-lane country road. My shame multiplied four-fold as I, again, watched him fade from my rear-view mirror in my haste to get home. By this time, I about vomited in my mouth my stomach was so knotted up with angst. Here I am, a pastor, looking at an obvious need in the world and turning a blind eye to that need. It was almost more than I could bear as I performed "mind-over-matter" techniques all the way home. I knew that it would no good getting home on time if my presence was racked with guilt and forlorn feelings of self-hatred. I wanted to be home without the residue of regret covering my being. Again, compartmentalization came in handy as I buried "that scene" under a crafty covering of repression and entered the "present scene" with ready-minded poise. But some thing about that scene wouldn't go away, it was more than a was obscene.

Two days later, I'm still messed up by that occurrence. I can't believe I passed by such an obvious need, not just once, but twice. It sickens me to think of what that reveals about my heart. A heart that still has a long way to go. A heart that still struggles to beat with Jesus'. A heart that can compartmentalize life in order to justify my own behavior. A heart that has the capacity to drive right by another human being in need making like I didn't see him.

Just so that my blogs don't become top heavy with success stories and pipe dreams, I must honestly lay forth my own depravity. Join me in flogging me.


Anonymous said…
Is flogging necessary when you've clearly beaten yourself to a pulp? Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Surely God wants to speak to the goodness and the weakness in your heart. I look forward to the blog which conveys what He says.
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Anonymous said…
Okay since you asked for it...

Elizabeth Joy said…
I kept waiting for the happy ending when you went back and helped the guy out. Craved it, actually. The first time I saw a homeless person holding a sign asking for food, I was seven years old... my brain couldn't handle the thought of someone being hungry, and I cried. However, now I pass them by as well... part of me feeling horrifically hypocritical in calling myself a Christian. I feel like there must be a balance between JAH's no condemnation response yet also being responsible for how we chose to respond to the situations God puts in our paths (Isaiah 58 true religion, in as much as ye do for the least of these, shall we go on sinning that grace may abound?) Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy! Thank you for your blog, Jason, it blesses me to read.
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