WARNING: My mind is rambling…
When I was a kid, it was common to play Cowboys and Indians. I grew up in the city, but their were bands of woods which separated the neighborhoods. The trees were growing along shale cliffs, which either bordered railroad tracks or rivers. For the city, most of my childhood memory’s of riding bikes, playing hide and seek, shooting BB guns, and declaring myself an Indian…were in the woods. Even with John Wayne so prevalent in our society at that time…I always wanted to be an Indian. Just the other day, I was in the back yard teaching a friend of mine how to shoot a compound bow. I explained the mechanics of the bow, the importance of sighting through the peep hole, through the sight pin, and on to the target, while emphasizing the importance of finding a good ‘anchor’ against the cheek with your hand, before triggering the release. The first shot was on target but the string snapped against his forearm…OUCH!
I forgot to measure his draw length. After adjusting this little painful detail…he went on to shoot successfully and without any further pain. Things like that always make me think about my boyhood fascination with Indians. When I look through the latest offering from Cabelas, I always wonder how the Indians killed anything. It’s turkey season right now, and the woods and fields are filled with blinds, calls, camouflage, and enough firepower to win the Civil War. Have we made hunting to difficult? Will the tradition of hunting survive the capitalist exploits of our society? Will we remember the cunning, innovative, effective, ways of the Indian? For them…hunting was not a series of seasons…it was a lifestyle. I feel sorry for the Indian I never knew. I can hear the sad tale told about a remembered way, about the simplicity of a life which seems so close yet can’t be found. I can see the dullness of his eyes, hear the longing in his voice…and feel the pain of the reality he now lives.
When I fail in my walk with Christ, when I stumble along the path laid for me…the falling seems longer and deeper somehow. The separation from God seems…farther. I know I am free from my bondage already, however, I also know I am still trapped in this body…this body which wars with itself.
Proverbs 25:28 says, “Like a city that is broken into and without walls, Is a man who has no control over his spirit.”
I love this verse, this verse captures the war which rages inside of us. This would be the natural place to refer to Ephesians Chapter 6 and the ‘Armor of God’ and ‘Sharpening your Sword’ and all that stuff…but instead, I want to talk about our city. When you find your city walls broken down…where do you picture yourself within the city? Are you in the last remaining tower watching the enemy advance into your city, or maybe in your personal rooms grabbing whatever valuables you have and readying for a hasty retreat? Where are you? I know where I am…I am leading the charge which is attacking the city. Not fighting off the invaders…but leading the invaders. How is that you ask? Solomon tells us in that verse…a “man”, with no control over his spirit.
When I fall from grace (so to speak), I am willfully letting the enemy control my actions. The battle runs through me and by my decisions. I become the arbitrator and director for the evil that courses through my mind and body. Kinda scary isn’t it…? Have you ever thought about it that way? You are your own worse enemy. Again…this would be the natural place to talk about surrender, cutting down the big pride tree, removing the bricks from the dam that holds back the reservoir of Living Water and all that stuff…but instead, I want to talk about humiliation. When we continually fill ourselves with good…bad washes out. But, when we grow lazy, when we live undisciplined, vestiges of bad crop up without warning. It reminds me of the parable of the tares recorded in Matthew 13:24-43. The humiliation we feel when we mess up…the separation…is both from God and from Satan. The humiliation is conviction, it is God’s call to repentance. The separation, the feeling that the gap between us is immense…is from Satan. Satan is trying to keep us from seeing that God is near. He never left us, in fact our sins were forgiven before we ever committed them, however, the communal relationship with our Heavenly Father is damaged by sin and needs to be repaired. This is where the humiliation comes in.
Ezra 9:5-9 says,“But at the evening offering I arose from my humiliation, even with my garment and my robe torn, and I fell on my knees and stretched out my hands to the LORD my God; and I said, “O my God, I am ashamed and embarrassed to lift up my face to You, my God, for our iniquities have risen above our heads and our guilt has grown even to the heavens. Since the days of our fathers to this day we have been in great guilt, and on account of our iniquities we, our kings and our priests have been given into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity and to plunder and to open shame, as it is this day. But now for a brief moment grace has been shown from the LORD our God, to leave us an escaped remnant and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our bondage. For we are slaves; yet in our bondage our God has not forsaken us, but has extended lovingkindness to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us reviving to raise up the house of our God, to restore its ruins and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem. “Now, our God, what shall we say after this…””
Now forgive me…I understand the context of this passage…but I think it exemplifies the spirit of men with broken walls and no control over their spirit. I also see the road map of this passage. Rise from our humiliation…seek God with a broken heart…because of our sin we are slaves to this world…but grace has been given…a place in God’s Holy plan…not forgotten or forsaken…His lovingkindness extended to us…to revive and restore His house within us…to rebuild our walls and fortify our spirit…and we shall say after this…Thank You to my Lord and my God!
The bruise on my buddy’s forearm reminds me of the bruise on our life when we choose sin. We tell the tale about a remembered way, about the simplicity of a life which seems so close yet can’t be found, we feel the dullness of our eyes, hear the longing in our own voice…and feel the pain of the reality of a false righteousness. The Indian in my vision remembers a way gone forever…we remember a way which lasts forever.