I know you and I have had some…difficulties.
Admittedly, mostly on my end…due to you being a very public personality and, well…really not knowing me at all.
I also know that I—for some time, chose to just do what I could to ignore you rather than stir up negative emotion in myself that had no outlet.
But I’ve come to realize two things about you which came to me—quite literally, out of nowhere (or is it, out of everywhere?). Two things I now realize run true through everything I’ve ever read of yours, and every word I’ve ever heard you speak. So if you’ll allow me to do so, I’d like to tell you what those two things are, and then maybe do a nice little wrap up of what I’ve gleaned from realizing them.
The first thing I’ve come to realize about you is just how much (it seems) you long to know that you are chosen, that you are loved, that you are accepted.
That you’re important.
Gosh, when it’s out there like that, it comes off…a little harsh…a little…rough around the edges. But then again, so do you.
Like, all the time.
Come out a little harsh, a little rough around the edges, but in spite of (or precisely because of and alongside) this, you still embody something I believe all of us feel—that longing to feel accepted, truly and genuinely accepted.
No matter what sort of differing semantic label we put on it: chosen, predestined, predetermined, loved, liked, favored. I believe that that is at the core of all humanity, and I believe that that hole (as Pascal would call it), that void, that…womb can only be filled (fulfilled) by God above. And we all wish it filled (whether we’re aware or not). And we’re all a wee bit…rough around the edges in regards with how we go about with that desire.
A desire for something beyond this…reality. This…age. This existence and experience.
A desire for love and acceptance that only God can satisfy.
A desire to know that we are loved and accepted and enjoyed and favored.
A desire to know that we are chosen…predestined…elect.
A desire to know that we are…important.
And we are.
In all my time on this earth I don’t think I’ve ever come across anything that wasn’t important to God—anything that was deemed unimportant in any way. (God kinda does a better job emphasizing this point than I ever could in the book of Job, but at any rate it would be a truly fascinating thing indeed that somehow manages to exist in this universe without being important to the Creator of it all.)
And that brings me to the second thing I realized about you.
Despite what critics say of you, I don’t believe you think highly enough of yourself (if you actually do at all).
I know, I know, this whole…lovey dovey stuff is easy to dismiss.
But to me, that whole 1st John “God IS Love” business is one bomb that just isn’t easily gotten rid of.
What I don’t wish to convey is that the…dark doesn’t matter.
That sin doesn’t matter.
That our fallen nature should so easily be over looked, ignored, or otherwise tossed to the side at the expense of the fact that God IS LOVE. On the contrary, I believe it’s vitally important—there is a necessity to our fallen nature, to sin, and it is something that most definitely shouldn’t be overlooked, ignored, glossed over.
It should most definitely be seen—if only through the foundational “God IS Love” lens, not in spite of it.
You know, my father once said that the closer you get to light, the bigger the shadow you cast. How true for those of us who—as Hank Williams so eloquently put it, have seen the Light! It’s this fact that leads me to truly believe that when Paul wrote that he was the “Chief of all sinners,” he was writing out of genuine emotion, not to make some statement of ratings and placement above everyone else.
The problem is, when we let our shadows define us, and not the other way around.
It is inevitable that when we interact with light we will cast a shadow, and—as Dad said, the closer we get, the bigger the shadow. But to define the shadow as anything other than a byproduct of our interaction with light is folly. It indeed stems from us, it indeed is connected to ourselves (unlike Peter Pan), it’s very existence is indeed based on ours. And it indeed is something that should not be ignored or overlooked, for we all cast shadows (all have sinned and fall short). But that shadow is still not a something, it is a no thing, a nothing, a lack of something—namely, light. And ultimately—going back to my father’s original words, it is nothing more than a byproduct of our interaction with light.
And this is where seeing through the eyes of the light—seeing through the eyes of the one who sees me, comes into play. I believe the Father sees us.
Yes, He sees the shadow too, but to the one who created all things, sustains all things and through all things were made and nothing that was not made was through him (refine), I believe that what he FOCUSES on is the thing, not the no thing.
He sees both, but what does he know, what does He focus on, what does his Gaze fall on?
For knowing Himself, knowing He is light, and knowing the state of this world where shadows are cast because it isn’t finished, where He has not yet filled all the voids, surrounded everything and thus, leaves no room for shadows to be cast, He focuses His creation, not the byproduct of His interaction—His relationship with His creation. He focuses on the something, not the no thing.
Which brings me back to you.
You are a something, not a nothing.
You are a somebody, not a nobody.
You are important enough to be created, important enough to be saved.
Not from yourself, but from your shadow.
But I don’t think you’ve been able to see the difference. I don’t think you’ve been able to separate the fact that YOU ARE NOT THE SHADOW YOU CAST.
And I don’t think you’ve ever been able to accept yourself.
I don’t think you’ve ever seen yourself through the eyes of the one who sees you. Yes, who sees your shadow too, but have you ever played that game where you put your hand in front of your face and rotated between focusing on it, and focusing beyond it? Which one is blurry, but still seen, and which one isn’t depends on what you’re focusing on.
And God is focusing on YOU.
Not. Your. Shadow.
See the darkness, yes.
Hate the darkness, yes.
In fact, I believe that’s why God created you as such a warrior. And with such a hatred of that dark, the darkness. Because that’s what He hates. And that is what the fight is against. Not flesh and blood, not some things, but the no things.
But you’ve gotta stop believing the lie that the dark shadow is you. Or that anyone’s is theirs. I mean, yes. There are those who fear the light and so hide in the darkness where their shadow cannot be seen, but that is as much them believing a lie as you believing one.
Hate the darkness.
Hate the dark.
Hate the shadow.
Fight the darkness.
Fight the dark.
Fight the shadow.
But see what the One who sees you sees. A warrior. A voice. An example of the struggle of the whole of the human race.
Don’t believe the lie that the shadow is you, or you’ll never wish to truly get close to God—who IS LOVE, out of fear of how big your shadow becomes.
Run to it.
Because I believe once you do, you will see that just as God hates your shadow, not you, he also hates everyone else’s shadow.
And all your glorious efforts and fight can be directed toward the true enemy. The no thing that wants to be a some thing.
The void that longs to be filled…with more void.
The womb. Waiting for a child.
The empty dirty, poopy manger. Waiting for a birth.
So Mark, know this:
You are important.
And it’s time you started believing it.
And, yes, that may not be an easy thing.
But you owe it to yourself, and you owe it to the one who gave you the ability to do so. And you know what one of the favorite things I’ve ever learned in my studies is? That “belief” in the original Greek—particularly in the case of John 3:16f is not only “belief into” (pisteuo eis) but that the definition of belief is “a willingness to be convinced of.” You don’t have to convince yourself that what I say is true, because it’s not on you to do the convincing (Scripture does say that it’s Jesus—not us, who is both the author and perfecter of our faith), but be willing to be convinced.
Believe. And See.
Cheers and Blessings til I see you on the other side of eternity (unless I happen to do so in this age.).