Monstrous Grace

Read this first.

I agree with the monstrous conclusion, but working with Pure Desire and such ministry, I’ve seen monsters stopped short of the behavior which allows us to dub them monsters. Monsters in the making, I guess you’d say. Some have done time for mini-monster misdeeds (well, I’m not sure there are mini-monsters in Prager’s nomenclature, so, okay, full fledged monsters who didn’t go the route of kidnapping three women as sex slaves). But to hear their stories, they were definitely victims themselves; no escaping that. Are they responsible for their actions and should they be punished? You bet, and they’d all agree at this point. And they’d agree as I do – that Ariel should be a free man only on the way to the crematorium.

But it’s a slippery slope that we navigate to assign titles denoting the impossibility of redemption – which I think a “monster” would be – based solely on where on that slope one came to one’s senses. All sin gets graded based upon a human scale in that system – including the insignificant peccadillios we committed – those cute little things that would send us to hell.

I have wondered about the details of the life of the Gerasene demoniac – he was chained because he was harmless? I serve a God who casts filth out into pigs who rush down that slippery slope in my stead. Even Ariel Castro can come to him – does that disgust me? If I know God’s mercy, it simply cannot.


The Drill Down Award – towards Root Cause

First of all, I need to thank God for the rich blessings in my life.  I am SO grateful to work for a company that can send me to Florida in the dead of winter AND grateful that Leah can meet me here as she has now (twice!).  Really, I never want to take that for granted; it’s just great and it’s from God, like all good things.

I try to pass blessings along; truly I almost think that’s my duty, but it’s one that I do with joy.

One way I do that is to give an award I call “The Drill Down Award”.  It’s a hand drill (which are getting hard to find) that I bestow upon engineers who have doggedly persisted in finding the hardest problems in our software.  These issues drag on for months (one of the pre-requisites for a “Drill Down” problem) with little or no additional evidence.  Slowly, the engineers make progress until that amazing breakthrough happens.  We have found that if you don’t give up, that it will happen.

We call the final victory in this resolution “finding the root cause”.

And the award is given for NOT GIVING UP.  I buy the drills at personal expense; the award is my idea but it has found its way into people’s annual reviews and .. maybe their resumes.

Now the spiritual part.

I don’t know that anyone ever told me the amount of persistent work it would be to get through my gunk in walking with God.  I guess I was taught a bunch of quick fix theology at the outset. Now, I may have more stuff to work through than most, but somehow I don’t think any of us in Christ, if we’re honest, escapes the conviction of passages like David’s here:

Psalm 139:23-24

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

I usually find a BUNCH of anxious thoughts and offensive ways when I pray like this.  But I have learned to not let that discourage or condemn me.  No, I go for the Drill Down Award.  I realize this this can be hard work:

 Philippians 2:13-14 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed-not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence-continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

.. I mean, long, drawn-out work.  But it’s worth it; I daresay I’M worth it.  And so are you.

Towards that end, I am prayerfully starting a Pure Desire group at our church.  My own past, coupled with the shared lives of some men I know, have displayed again the rich rewards of persistent.  Yes, it deals with a specific problem and one that is either ignored as not  a problem or shamed as one not fit for discussion.

The various things people do to medicate themselves from their pain are legend. And those two responses are common across all addictive coping behavior.  Some eat.  Some do drugs. Some get angry a lot.

I encourage people to call their addictions what they are.  And I encourage people to work towards root cause.  I don’t know about you, but I want to go for the Drill Down Award.