It’s tough to tell what’s worse: letting your body get the best of you, or letting nothing occur at all. I’ve been on both ends of this teeter-totter, and done both with the abandon that comes from a “Grip it and Rip it” mentality. Now, as an older (possibly wiser) man, I’ve got some experience to draw on, to look back upon, that helps me ease toward the center.
Balance. That’s what we all strive for, right? We balance our checkbook and hope to stay in the black. We try to even out potholes in the driveway for a smoother ride. Corn needs water, but not too much. Thermostats are adjustable to achieve balance between the winter wind outside and the furnace in the basement. But what about things that are not so easily measurable?
I’m talking about the balance of faith, my faith in God, against the desires of my human body. It’s a tough thing to talk about, a tough thing to think about. Oftentimes, I don’t do either. Our world places a high priority on the things we can see, desire, and take to bed. Less prominent, but more important, are the things we keep to ourselves. The thoughts that eat at us. The guilt that gets ignored. Today, I’m in a mood to evaluate. Maybe somebody who reads this will wind up doing a little introspection of their own- if that happens, then I’m glad to have helped.
First off, this isn’t a judgment on anyone but myself. This isn’t politics or business, it’s my desire to be closer to God. To live the way He wants me to, while still enjoying myself. To find a woman who makes me a better man without compromising in any way. Maybe my standards are too high. Maybe I’m doing it wrong. I’ve done a lot of things in a lot of different ways, and they haven’t left me where I want to be.
Sleeping around didn’t work. Trying to build a life with someone who didn’t value God didn’t work.Playing house with divorcees is miserable in the morning. Hanging out with party girls at night is annoying. Going at a snail’s pace isn’t my style, either, though. Kisses and hand-holding are fine in the eighth grade, but make for a really long night. The opposite is tougher, still, when you wake up in the morning and wonder, “Why did I do this? She’s not even my type.”
I’m a flawed man, and I get that. My character defects are kept at bay by abstaining from drink (coming on eight years now,) from sex, and, recently, from social interaction. If a dog runs away every time it gets out of the kennel, you’ve got to keep it in the kennel or train it to stay in the yard. I’m tired of keeping the kennel door closed. God is helping me train for obedience, but sometimes it’s like the training manual is written in Mandarin-Chinese. I’ve got to learn to translate it.
The good news here is that God knows my heart. He can’t sweep my sins under the rug, but he can and does forgive me for them. He doesn’t care that I’ve run out of the yard- He’s just glad I’m back. But if I don’t make strides toward living obediently, He’s going to know that I’m not serious about following Him. I struggle with how far, how long I can stay away. Who even thinks like that? I do. I struggle with His ear-scratches and “Good Dog” praises not measuring up to the tasty roadkilled deer in the neighboring ditch. It’s bad for me, but I can’t help myself sometimes. I stay in the kennel.
At the same time, I’m up for just about anything that will bring me closer to Him. I’ll study the bible, spend lots of time in prayer, and talk to God. I’ll get to where I’m at the high end of the teeter totter- the supposed payoff, when you’re weightless, your knees don’t ache from squatting, and you’ve got the best view on the playground. Then, inevitably, I’ll come down again. Sometimes I wish the dog-gone thing would break, or rust itself solid in the up position. I can climb to the top, but not the bottom. That’s where I started.
This has been going on for years- I see what’s supposed to happen. I see the vision of it, and it doesn’t have a set hair color, eye color, figure, etc. It’s got God with it, though, blessing it. It’s got talent and excitement where I need it, and it’s got steadiness and loyalty as well. It’s got a house that’s now a home. It’s got no baggage. It’s a fantasy.
We’ll see what happens. Maybe the dog will decide to stick around next time I let it out, and maybe it’ll run off and be relegated to the kennel once more. God’s got a bunch of good translators around, and one of them will make sense to me. I’ll keep after it, keep trying. I’ll do my best to make the yard as appealing as possible.