There’s a sharp contrast between who I was before Christ and who I am now. Sometimes I want to describe the difference in great detail, to show how powerfully and how graciously God has saved me. Maybe one day I’ll write it all down. In the meantime, allow me to ramble about how I used to live in darkness. #TBT (haha)
There’s one chapter in the Bible that mirrors the kind of darkness that used to permeate my existence: Judges 19. The evil in my life was horrifying, and in some way I recognized the horror even then, but I just couldn’t find my way out of it. No amount of effort was enough to climb out of that hellish pit.
I used to scoff at people who echoed sentiments like, “The woods are lovely, dark and deep” (Robert Frost). I believed that anyone who described the dark, deep woods as lovely had never faced the monsters that lived in those woods. I believed that anyone who romanticized pain had never suffered persistent, pervasive torment. I felt tortured enough that I wanted to die (I thought that death was followed by oblivion, and surely the void was preferable to the suffering I was going through). I was evil enough that I wanted to kill (and not even for any conceivably defensible reason; I just wanted to inflict pain).
Do you want to know which parts of the Bible reflect the state of my heart now? I often relate to David’s praise and Paul’s joy. I also feel like the man in Mark 5:1-20. Jesus delivered that man from his demons; Jesus also delivered me from mine (though I’m not saying I was “possessed” or anything to the effect of denying responsibility; I was in fact fully culpable for all my actions). Mark’s account ends this way: As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed (vv. 18-20).
I can easily spend a whole day just reading the Bible, studying the Bible (those are different things) and praying. Sometimes, those are all I want to do. But we’re not meant to live like hermits. The greatest commandments (footnote 1) and Christ’s commission (footnote 2) are not compatible with the practice of hermeticism. Followers of Christ should point other people to Him, for He came to save the lost. Pointing people to Christ largely involves living visibly as His follower, even bearing burdens with His grace.
In other words, even if I don’t really want to be working 10 or 11 hours a day, I ought to be a good ambassador for Christ to my co-workers by being diligent and gracious despite my exhausting workdays. Hahaha I was not expecting this blog post to end this way. (I could’ve talked about how I’m still adjusting to the light that now surrounds me and shines into my heart, but I suppose I’ll have to leave that for another time. I need to sleep now because, y’know, 10- or 11-hour workday tomorrow.)
(1) “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Matthew 22:36-39)
(2) “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)