Friday, November 23, 2007

pleasant surprises on the day of the lord.

. . . If you are a nice person - if virtue comes easily to you - beware! Much is expected from those to whom much is given. If you mistake for your own merits what are really God's gifts to you through nature, and if you are contented with simply being nice, you are still a rebel: and all those gifts will only make your fall more terrible, your corruption more complicated, your bad example more disastrous. The Devil was an archangel once; his natural gifts were as far above yours as yours are above those of a chimpanzee.

But if you are a poor creature - poisoned by a wretched upbringing in some house full of vulgar jealousies and senseless quarrels saddled, by no choice of your own, with some loathsome sexual, perversion- nagged day in and day out by an inferiority complex that makes you snap at your best friends - do not despair. He knows all about it. You are one of the poor whom He blessed. He knows what a wretched machine you are trying to drive. Keep on. Do what you can. One day (perhaps in another world, but perhaps far sooner than that) He will fling it on the scrap-heap and give you a new one. And then you may astonish us all - not least yourself: for you have learned your driving in a hard school. (Some of the last will be first and some of the first will be last.)

~ C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Chapter 32.

I have always found myself admiring people whom others take little notice. I could admire the talent of the talented but seldom was as impressed with the one talented. I have been more impressed with less gifted folks who were struggling. I have the strange tendency to look at how people act when they are at their weakest, when things are going badly.

I have always kept this to myself because I thought that at best I just was being contrary. At worst, I was weird. I was afraid I was weird in a way that reflected something terrible about myself. I didn’t know what for sure, but it probably was not something I wanted exposed.

By admiring "people who struggle" - Christian-speak for losers - maybe I am showing myself to be such a complete loser that I could only admire other losers?

Then I read the above from C.S. Lewis. He understood and I began to understand. It is like the widow’s mite (Mark 12:41-44; Luke 21:2). Jesus admired what folks did with what they had, not with what they had. The Church, on the other hand, tends to admire and to look at results, at productivity, at what someone does for us.

Two examples of people I admire come to mind. I know an older, wiser woman in the Lord who struggled deeply with severe emotional and physical problems. She was not outgoing, no one sought her as a mentor, the more gregarious, younger female leaders (as did everyone else) found her easy to ignore. However, I got to know her and I was blessed. I learned to listen when she spoke and to seek her wisdom when she did not speak. I admired her faith and ability to sometimes just barely survive, to show up, to keep on walking with the Lord despite all that came against her.

I am thinking of a man tortured by emotional problems more severe than I can imagine. He shows up at church meetings and is faithful, although sometimes he feels that he is just barely holding on. However, I doubt if I could be so faithful with a fraction of his troubles. He is a man of faith. I can not think about him and still think that I have much faith.

After the Resurrection, I think we will all be quite surprised at some who get the best crowns. However when we learn why, there will be no disappointment, no envy, only admiration.

That will be a good day.

Be blessed.

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