Kandern has been encased in thick fog for several days.
It’s not the wispy, whimsical fog that makes you want to whisper as you walk through cloud-feathered hills. It’s a shroud–the kind of opaque whiteness that makes a person feel so heavily blanketed that it borders on claustrophobia.
I can’t remember a time in my life when claustrophobia hasn’t been an issue for me. Sitting in a crowded room where there is no fresh air other than a thick, already-breathed cesspool of floating germs makes me want to do unmissionary things–like hurl a chair through a window or distract myself from the encroaching panic by launching into an ABBA song-and-dance routine. As entertaining as the spectacle would be, I assure you it might also cause irreparable retinal and psychological damage, so, students, don’t get any ideas about locking me in a small room for your amusement!
Here’s the problem with closed rooms and fog-shrouded views: we tend to focus on the doors and invisibility rather than on the vastness of what lies just beyond them. We’re so quick to notice what discomforts us that we fixate on that…to our own detriment.
One of the pictures I took this past summer, which you’ve probably seen here before, expresses it better than I ever could in words. Thanks Mom and the Sparlings for reminding me of it.
Sure–it’s a door. A big old barn door. And if I were feeling in the least claustrophobic, I assure you that I would be so focused on the solidity of that door that I would completely miss the openness and beauty of all that lies beyond it.
Isn’t that just the way we are when parts of life seem to rear up in front of us and obliterate perspective? We get stuck on the impossibilities and the helplessness and the pain of real-world living and somehow lose sight of the rest of life–of the space and the light and the hope that surround the object of our discontent.
Phil. 4:8 says it best: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Every time I’ve been tempted, in recent weeks, to focus on the doors in my life, God has sent something infinitely more noble to focus on…more pure and lovely and admirable. Former students have been vehicles of God’s goodness to me–they’ve spontaneously written the kind of emails and sent the kind of gifts that have knocked me on my emotional keester and pointed me to the God who placed me here for them. Most of them had no idea that I needed those words on those particular days, and yet… One of them (who knows me well!) went so far as to say, in essence, “Hey, you need a new DVD player and an iPod. I’m gettin’ them for you!” What?! Wait! Don’t take my attention of the massive door in front of me! I’m enjoying feeling sorry for myself!
There have been the kind of conversations with current students (thanks Jay Na and Zoe!) that have validated my passion for MKs, and the kind of ridiculous moments with others (Squirt and Erin!) that have reminded me of the preciousness of laughter. There has been so much good–so much love from my friends and so much communication from my God–that those doors, those banks of clouds, have been losing their power. They are the fabrication of a devious foe who revels in our spiritual claustrophobia and rejoices in our fear. It’s time to take that power back from him, don’t you think? It’s time to force our eyes away from the obstacles and focus them instead on the vast realm of potential that lies beyond them.
The fact is, no matter how thick the fog or how solid the door, we know a God whose greatest joy is in bursting through barriers and burning through muck. He’s actively doing that for each of us who are seeking His rescue, even as I write these words, and that, my friends, is a promise I can hang my hope on!
Former student Nate “Lief” – home for the holidays.
Rachel “Potty-Mouth” giving me one of her friendliest looks!