Removing the Barnacles

A writer knows when he has spent too much time away from the keyboard. At first a hard, thin layer of melancholia attaches itself to him, like barnacles on ship. But as the separation between a writer and his creative self grows, his melancholy evolves into a thick loneliness, and left untreated, this loneliness turns into an unspecified grief, which grounds itself in doubt and self-loathing.

Such is the condition I find myself in as the fateful year of 2020 dances in the reflection of time, refusing to be ignored, and I realize that I have only posted twice in the last year. The ignoring of this blog, though, was not a lack of desire to write. It was an expression of my inability to tap into the necessary emotions I require in order to remember how to spin words of straw into musical gold. I was, as many of us were, exhausted. From the death of my father in February to the regular pandemic and political stress we all experienced, to the daily pouring out of myself in my job as a therapist, I dogpaddled throughout much of the year, remembering only on occasion that writing is the gift God has given me to not only make sense of His Word and this world but to also recharge myself when I need it the most.

So, as we enter 2021 I would like to offer this small promise: I will write more.

There is more in God’s word to explore. And it is during our times of suffering and pain that we should swim in its depths more frequently, asking the difficult questions of it, and rejoicing in its answers. This blog is called “Living in the Tent” as an homage to the itinerant lifestyle of the Israelites and the early Christian Fathers who traveled in complete dependency upon God. But we cannot live a life of faith huddled in our tents. Yes, the storms may blow, and the ship may be taking on water. But our God sleeps in the stern on a cushion, unbothered by the situation of His disciples, because He knows “no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:29) and that the storm obeys His word.

This does not mean that God is an uncaring god, or a passive God. He is, however, a god that sees a bigger picture than the rest of us. We see a pandemic, racial injustice, political unrest, and an attack on our dearest held beliefs and principles. He sees the tragic consequences of man’s sinful nature and a continually unsuccessful attempt to heal himself through power, law, brutality, the dissolution of truth and the redefinition of right. In grace and in mercy God has provided mankind a way to be saved from himself. But to move forward, man must accept the gift of God’s substitutionary sacrifice of Himself for our sins and surrender himself to God’s holy will.

Without this surrender, both on a personal and on a societal level, mankind will never experience the deliverance he seeks. He will be like the writer who continuously sinks into self-loathing and grief but never realizes it is because he has abandoned the One for whom he was designed. In Isaiah 55:7 God says through His prophet, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” And again in Joel 2:13 “Rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.” So, if you feel exhausted, if your situation is overwhelming you, take your eyes off of the situation and put your eyes on Him. If he moves, follow. If he stays put, remain where He has you. He will not abandon you. He will not forsake you. And with His word He will deliver you (Psalm 107:20).

What then shall we say to these things? 

If God is for us, who can be against us?

Romans 8:31

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