Saturday, January 2, 2016

Who Are We, Anyway?

Someone sent me a mask for Christmas. It came from Italy, almost halfway around the world, and I keep looking at it. It wasn't until this morning that I started to understand why.

It started out on New Years Eve, and a talk about the lives we'd built for ourselves over these 50 or 60 years, and not our dissatisfaction with them, but our downright confusion. We've become, in great parts, what we've set out to be--capable, thoughtful, faithful in measures more than we'd ever expected--but now, well, now it all seems a bit silly and out of place.

Oh, we still mess up (and I did, spectacularly, later that same night) but that's not the problem.
We recognize our instances of falling short with ease. It's the instances of success that make us pause. Our successes haven't taken us where we know we have to go. In fact, they seem to take us farther from it.

That's where the mask comes in.
The mask reminds me that we are still trying to figure out who we were meant to be.
 You'd think that, by now, we'd have gotten farther in this basic truth, but well, we haven't. And this is why--

After spending our whole lives learning and building, it seems like our business now is to dismantle it--to take apart the entire construct we've worked so hard on, looking for that essence, that kernel of what's really important.

The mask doesn't represent something that's fake--it's the layers of our life. 
It's the good things we've made day by day that, suddenly, we don't need any more. In fact, they've become hindrances. It's the taking charge, the steadfast patterns, the suddenly useless knowledge that's beginning to weigh us down rather than propel us through our days.

It's God saying, 'I've shown you what I can make of you, but I'm not done yet. Now I'm going to show you what I've put in you.'

He warned us about this, you know.
I will put my Spirit in you...--Ezekiel 36:27 

Somebody asked me on New Years Eve for one wise saying to share to take us into 2016 and I, clumsy and self-conscious, said that God wants to show us that He is in us. What I should have done is gotten out the mask, because that's the whole point.

God has made us wonderful, but what we've had to do to build our lives has covered it up.
Now, it's time to strip all that away. Now, He wants to help us uncover the kernel He's deposited, that Spirit He's incomprehensively given and nurtured. He's asking us to take off the outer shell we no longer need, to pare down to the simple, unguarded core.

It's taken Him all our lives to teach us to trust Him. 
Now, He wants to show us who we really are in Him.

So they asked him, "What are you? Are you Elijah?" And he said, "No, I am not." "Are you the prophet?" He answered, "No." So they said to him, "Who are you so that we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say for yourself?"  He said, "I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, 'Make straight the way of the Lord.'"--John 1