I begin with a quote from the Screwtape letters by CS Lewis:
“He cannot ‘tempt’ to virtue as we do to vice. He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there, He is pleased even with their stumbles.”
I’ve never been one who enjoys transitions and yet have been driven to one of the biggest transitions of my life. In some ways this is terribly exciting, but in other ways it can be terribly frightening. On the exciting side, as you can see from the pictures included with this blog, I have had the joy of being ordained under the Southern Baptists to gospel ministry. This meant leaving something behind and I am not one to let go of past loyalties easily. Beyond this, I’m not one who enjoys uncertainty, but rather who enjoys having everything planned. And so, as they say, “everything old is new again.” The Lord has brought me back to the first verse I ever memorized and the exchanged-life principle found therein. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20, NKJV).”
This story we live, while filled with our choices, is never ours alone but part of a much larger story. And we, as characters in the story, are never fully in control of the storyline. Total freedom is a human illusion. This does not diminish us as image bearers but simply means that as His image bearers, we bear the image of one who is far greater than ourselves. Our choices are truly a part of our story but the landscape that we walk in, the scenes that we enter into, are guided by a hand which is not our own. Many of the changes and parts of my life story I did not plan but the great joy of the exchanged life principle - by which Christ lives in me and I live out my life in Him - is that there is a sensible story. The philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, stated that life must be lived forward but can only be understood backward. While I would not call myself a Christian Existentialist, I think Kierkegaard sees that which is vital for every believer. The question is not whether our lives turned out the way we planned but rather whether they turned out in a way that displayed the kingdom of God and the goodness of our God. Even more, did we end up living out our lives in a way that we became more and more the thing that God created us to be as we lived them?
This is a deeply personal blog filled with many musings during an incredible transition in our lives. But it’s in the day-to-day living, in the various connections, and in intersections that we face that the story gets told. Hopefully you will join me for the future blogs and watch this story unfold with me.