As I finish the fourth book in the series, The Chronicles of Formation, I wonder, “What’s after abiding?”
The panic ensues.
The brain searches for answers.
The gut begins to sink at the thought there may be…
Nothing? Impossible. God is infinite. There is not “nothing” after abiding.
Don’t worry. It’s not lost on me that I’m treating the four books of my series as if they together chronicle a logical sequence of life’s seasons ending with the practice of daily patio-sitting and listening to the birds sing happy little tunes. God doesn’t work that way. Well, maybe sometimes He does, but not with me.
Anyway, wouldn’t you agree it’s interesting how the false self you thought you’d successfully evicted comes back whenever there’s a threat on the horizon? Always gotta have a dream, right? Always gotta know what’s next. Always gotta have a target to aim at. Just in case.
In case of what? In case there really is nothing? In case you really don’t matter after all?
And now the answer comes.
The answer is: “Abiding 2.0.”
The past 2 ½ years was a time of stripping down to the naked truth. Oh yeah, I did it on purpose and took a lot of work. But now that I’m here, I really don’t like feeling naked. It makes me want to get dressed. Dressed in what? Well, the wardrobe of my false self hasn’t been taken to the Goodwill just yet. It would be very easy and convenient to slip on a pair of Frabrizio Giani slacks with a silk blouse, or try out a pair of Stuart Weitzman heels. After all, they’re just sitting there.
This must be what it feels like when an alcoholic falls off the wagon.
Standing here at the proverbial fork in the road, what will I do? What path will I take? Where will it lead? Does it involve fighting terrorists? Or worse yet, does it mean I’ll have to start accepting invitations to Tupperware parties?
Next Tuesday morning I will be taken to the local hospital for total hip replacement surgery. The procedure promises to deliver relief from the pain that’s put me down for the last 2 ½ years. But not at first. Oh no…nothing good comes easy. At first I’ll be in considerable pain, unable to take showers, forced to use a walker, and visited upon by complete strangers bearing delicious meals; the only good part of the deal for the first few weeks.
But then…oh yeah baby. Then I’ll be able to resume my life as it once was.
Enter “Abiding 2.0.”
Now…I don’t know about all the why’s and wherefores’ of my health issues. But I do know this. There’s no way I would have slowed down without being forcibly incapacitated. And there’s no way I would have begun to see my false self for who she is. I still like her. She’s just not good for me. Christ is better. This season of “Abiding 1.0” has given me a dainty taste of what Abiding is all about. And honestly, intellectually and theologically, I have a basic understanding of what it means to abide.
Once I’ve recovered from hip replacement surgery, I’ll be able to do more. I’ll be able to go more places. I’ll be able to dream without wondering if my dreams may require more than I can give. And the temptations will come, one at a time. A boost to the ego, a chance to be clever, and a need to make something happen. The adrenaline will flow and the determination to meet the challenge will grow.
Again, enter “Abiding 2.0.”
Stay the course, wait for further instructions, deed the space of circumstances to God and get out of His way, assume the best in people, seek out reconciliation, be gracious, never flinch, never weary, and never despair. (Okay, the last three were from Winston Churchill.) And keep writing.
I trust I’ll be feeling a lot better very soon, God willing.
And with my newly gifted health, I will embark upon the next phase of the unknown journey into Christ.