Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Pendulum

I’m one of those “white collar” types, although I don’t actually wear a white collar. I think the last time I wore a white shirt was when Stephanie and I stood up in front of a preacher. But I do sit at a desk, in front of a computer screen. Day after day after day after day… after day, inside those same four walls I sit.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my job and am truly blessed of God to have it. But there’s a yearning inside me to get away. Field personnel come into the office and I bite my lip with envy at the places they go. Just the other day I overheard a guy that’s working in Pennsylvania right now. He was talking about how he drives over to DC or NY for the weekend, just to goof off. I closed my office door so they wouldn’t have to see a grown man cry.

I started this job in 2002, and by late 2005 I found myself with such a yearning to get “out there” that I resigned the desk job to take a field job. Finally – on the road again! Stephanie and I stowed our stuff in a mini storage, put the house on the market and drove to Illinois to do field work. It was cool getting away, but I soon remembered the problem with being on the road. You wish you had a job where you could be home! And so I got this job back.

The saying goes, “Be careful what you wish for – you just might get it!” We want what we can’t have. And then when we get it we realize we want what we used to have. It’s called the pendulum effect.

It’s too hot so you turn the air conditioner on high. It gets too cold real fast so you turn the heater on high to warm things up. You know you should set the thermostat at a happy medium… but you need relief, and you need it now! And the pendulum swings. Single folk are dying for companionship while married folk remember with fondness the fun side of being single. And the pendulum swings.

Over the ages the church has experienced the pendulum effect… back – and – forth… and back again. We recognize the truth that to be a Christian means to be different than the world. “We’re in the world but we’re not of the world.” “Come out from amongst them,” the Bible says, “And be separate”. “Narrow is the path and few they are that find it…” So Christianity becomes about how you dress and what you drive and how you act… and if you’re caught having “fun” – you’re branded with a scarlet letter and excommunicated from the church. And we look down our noses at those “carnal Christians”.

But the pendulum swings. And we realize that our salvation is by grace and through faith, and not of works. And we revel in that grace, so rich and so free. And we call upon the Lord for forgiveness when we miss it… and we begin to find it so easy to miss it. We find ourselves doing what those in the world do – viewing the same Godless movies without remorse… indulging in the excesses that make up “the good life”… because we’re “under grace”. And we look down our noses at those “legalists”.

Caught between two worlds – and constantly being knocked off our feet by that pesky pendulum.

Hey, I have an idea… Let’s set the spiritual thermostat at a happy medium. Let’s realize that we’re living under grace, and honor God with a lifestyle that pleases Him. We might be surprised at how pleased we’d be also. Let’s grow up in this thing to a point that “outsiders” can’t tell whether we’re one of the “preachy” types or one of the “grace-y” types. Actually we’d be both… and we’d be neither. And that pendulum will cease to reverse itself and find rest… in the Lord!

Ahhhhh… that feels good!

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