Sunday, December 22, 2013

“Hope is not found in a way out but a way through.” ― Robert Frost

There are few of us who are happy with the way we look, and there are a few a little too happy with the way they look.  Mostly, this is because we cannot see ourselves as others see us.  We compare ourselves to others with different body types, different metabolism rates, different genetic makeup, different life styles, and we always seem to come up short or tall or thin or fat or whatever it is we wish we weren’t.  We need to learn to see ourselves as others see us—for good or for ill.  Robert Blake wrote a poem about a woman dressed to the nines sitting in church and thinking about how fine she looked, but she couldn’t see the louse that was crawling up her hair.  In a very strong Scottish dialect that I won’t repeat here, Blake said that what a gift God would give us if we could see ourselves as others see us.  My wife sees a handsome man with character in his face when she looks at me (at least that’s what she says), but I see an overweight old man with many scars and skin cancer scabs.  The little girl, Charlini, whom I wrote about yesterday, sees me as a kind man who loves her (“mtu mpole napendi mimi” in Swahili) or so she says.  I have no reason not to believe her.  If we only see ourselves as what we are not but want to be, we will always be disappointed with ourselves and will seldom think that we can do what we need to do to live a life that becomes the Gospel.  Christ does not offer us a way out, he offers a way through (see above quote).  He doesn’t make it so we never suffer, but He gives us the strength to survive it.  Christ is like the antique car restorer who does not see the rusting hulk but the finished and restored car after the master's hands have changed it. We need to stop judging ourselves by what others look like, and push forward, as Paul said, “. . . forgetting what lies behind . . .” keeping our focus on the hope that will get us through whatever obstacles life throws at us.  Most of you who read this worry way too much about what we call here “First World Problems” that have nothing to do with survival, disease, poverty, malaria—well, you get the idea.  I cannot explain to anyone in this society how anyone could worry about finding the right dog groomer.  Christ brings us hope that what is now will not forever be.  He promises us the strength and endurance to do what He has asked of us—to love one another as He loved us.  That alone would change the world, and you can become a part of that this very day.  Do it!

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