Wednesday, February 24, 2010

3 Ducks on the Lake

I wrote this during Lent a few years back and it comes back to my mind and heart today, the Wednesday after the First Sunday of Lent, 2010.

This morning I sat on the porch at our family lake house, two blankets like a cocoon insulating me from the cool damp morning air. I had my coffee in hand tucked beneath the blanket that shrouded my head. Wet smelly dogs were at my feet. The mist across the lake created a vague impression of confusion. Even on a day like this when the weather matched my mood, this spot’s vista brought me as close to peace as I think I will ever be in this lifetime. And this is amazingly true given the reality that it is here, in this house, on this Lake’s shore that I have also experienced the opposite of peace...conflict, brokenness, grief. Opposites collide here..seeking unity, reconciliation, and redemption.

I sat this morning longing to grow deeper in understanding and find comfort in the promise in Christ of unity and peace spoken of so beautifully in Isaiah 11....the Wolf with the Lamb...the Leopard with the Goat...the Calf with the Lion...the little Child leading...the infant and the cobra...the young and the viper....The earth full of the knowledge of the Lord...His place of rest will be glorious. In that day the Lord will reach out His hand a 2nd time and reclaim...gather...Jealousy will vanish...enemies cut off...hostility no longer....Together...There will be a highway.....

As I sat contemplating this vision of Christ’s work fully consummated, I looked up to see two male mallard ducks pursuing a female. She frantically flew around the cove, over the piers, and under the floats, into the water and out trying to find safety. I laughed as I watched. I thought of how demonstrative that little drama was of life here between the two comings of Christ.

Instinctively, we long to know the uniting of opposites...male and female, Jew and Gentile, simple and complex, black and white, sanguine and melancholy...making whole, breaking down the dividing walls of hostility to make one body…the dying off of fear and unbelief. This is what the journey toward the promise is about. We know it is our purpose as God’s created ones to live in Him where jealousy and hostility are no more. We know we are to be one with the Son and with one another as the Father and the Son are one.

But, like that female duck pursued by her opposite, we flee, frantically and fearfully seeking safety. Of what are we fearful? Being conquered? Losing our independence? Forfeiting our self’s authority?  Are we fearful of dying, being lost, and being consumed? To become one with another, and even more so if that one is greater than self, is most assuredly a strong threat. To give up living under the authority of self’s law to become one with Christ is to step through death’s door. How do we stop fleeing...stop seeking safety and do we stop being do we, instead, turn around and allow that pursuing love to capture us and make us one with Him? I find this especially difficult when my instinct, strong in this mortal body caught between Christ’s two comings, doesn’t quite "get it", and instead, feels death as the enemy from whom I must flee.

This Lenten season has me looking intently at myself in the same way I watched that female one flying frantically from the One I know I am to be one with. I have wanted to stomp out my instinctive fear of death of the old self. With my spiritual mind I know that "death" is the door to what I long for and to lose my life is to gain it. But, I flee...all the while longing deeply for oneness, for wholeness, for completion, for righteousness and truth.

Like most of us, maybe all of us, I have lived as though I should be allowed to skip the dying part of this redemptive process. I thought I could circumvent the grave, forget dying to the old, and with all my "should be’s" and "ought to’s" of self grasped tightly in my fist, go straight to the new life. But this was not the plan. That’s not the plan Christ set before me in the example of His life.

Through this Lenten season I will watch Christ set His face toward Jerusalem. I will watch Him walk right into the plot for His life. I will watch Him, full of grief and sorrow in the garden, struggle to live in obedience. I will watch Him as He asks if He might skip the dying part. I will watch Him, nevertheless, deny Himself all His rights as God’s son and take up the cross. I will watch Him forgive those who don’t understand him. I will watch Him lay down His life. I will watch Him die. I will watch the OLD pass away. I will watch the NEW rise out of the grave. I will hear Him say, "This is the plan. Follow me." I confess I don’t like it. I don’t like the pain, the suffering, the grief, the sorrow, the dying. But, this plan is how we move through this world... LIFE-DEATH-LIFE. Lay down your life. Take up your cross. There can be no resurrection without death.
      Oh, Lord of our longing, cease not to pursue us as we flee. Turn not Your face from
       us when in fear we turn from You. Forgive us for we know not what we do.

The ducks are now at peace. They swim in sync with one another. Their frantic pursuit and fearful fleeing seem to have ended. May that become true for us. May we too find peace. May we know His place of rest as glorious. Stop, turn around, and allow his love to overcome.

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