“He is pleasant and affable during his normal phases, which make up the greater part of his time. One gets an impression, however, that ordinary life is not very full or rich, that strange gods are ever calling him, and that the call is far dearer to his heart than anything else. He is, perhaps, like a man who through necessity has given himself over to foreign ways for most of his hours and who goes on fairly patiently but without spontaneity until the time when he can throw it all aside for a while and go wholeheartedly at what he finds really to his taste.”
Excerpt From “The Mask Of Sanity”
Dr. Hervey M. Cleckley
I have always wondered about the connective tissue between the things we believe and the things we do. How does it break down so often? How can it be strengthened? Nothing is more repulsive about my life than the hypocrisy I’ve sometimes displayed, and the hurt it has caused the people I love the most. There is some strange comfort in the company I keep in this when Paul writes, “For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate…For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do.”
I am nearly 12 years past the point at which I was called to faith in Christ — both in His salvation and His lordship. That is the complete picture of Him; the deified picture of Jesus; not merely the moralism of Jesus of Nazareth, but the power and authority of Jesus the Messiah. Yet, I stumble.. readily. I stumble every day and wonder where it came from. And I wonder why He hasn’t taken this from me and made me a picture of the firstling fruit of His Spirit that dwells inside me, among the weeds. Where is His pruning? Where is His power?
I feel guilt. I feel shame. I feel fear.
I wish I could tell you that I don’t; that my ‘witness for Christ’ was one of total confidence and power, but it isn’t.
That isn’t to say that my faith is thin, or that it hangs by a thread. It isn’t so dull as that. The sterile, academic seeds that were planted in me when I was a boy might never have shown proof of His work in my life, but the thing that caused the switch to flip; the strange work of Him in me and my family that made Him real and not just a moral fairytale has revealed so much more about Him than I’d ever thought possible. It’s shown me a God, a Lord, and a friend. I’ve seen His work, and not merely wished about it.
Yet, there is still this strange gulf between what I believe and what I do.
“The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.”
What will you make of me on the day I call to you, “Lord, Lord?” Will you know me? Will you remember me and welcome me home? Or will you castigate me and send me away, lost?
Though I wish to be worthy, I am not. Even the power to move mountains is lost on me, the faithless. The truth is, Lord, I need you now more than ever. I need you to carry me, because I cannot go where you want me to go.. not on my own.
All this time I’ve spent wanting to have you for my own; my own Lord, my own Savior, my own friend. But, I haven’t ever had you. You are too wild and free for the likes of me, an unexceptional sinner clawing in artfully at paradise.
If I cannot possess you, then I want you to possess me. Whatever good work I’ve done, let it be yours and not mine. Whatever bad I’ve done, forgive me Lord for my foolish mistake — the prideful heart of a man desperately seeking something he cannot have, and should never want to keep.