We’ve all had our meltdowns. Some necessary. Some not so much. None of them pretty. Can I get an amen? I’ll tell you (not that we’re comparing) my meltdowns are more than ugly; the kind of chaos one can never really unsee. And such was the case yesterday.
Earlier this week, I woke up with a number of rather inspiring thoughts I wanted to share with our church family. Thoughts of what our church has endured these many months during this COVID pandemic. Thoughts of what our pastors and leaders have contended for to encourage a body of believers to dig in deep. Thoughts about the witness of Christ being readily apparent in our lives, especially in the small things. All these thoughts swirling around in my head and a strong sense of urgency to get them out.
As I do a couple times each week, I set up a few simple pieces of video equipment (tripod, light, cords, earbuds) to help me record a short 5-10min clip. I scribble out a few notes, reference a scripture or two, rehearse an illustration, and begin to record. Nothing. A few attempts later, still nothing. For whatever reason, I can’t seem to get anything in my head to come out my mouth. A few more attempts. Nothing. After nearly a dozen takes to get even a few statements of fact out my mouth into the air with some sense of clarity or cohesion, I’m a wreck. A careening carousel of frustration, fit-throwing, snapping and stomping off. The witness of Christ has long since left the room. I was indeed, as the apostle Paul laments, “boxing the air”.
Now, I’m sure no one else can relate to such an ridiculous episode. But I should think we all can agree that on nearly every path that leads toward the preverbal cliff there is opportunity to heed the signs, look for exits, or stop altogether. In fact, one might argue that such notions are more than mere notions, common sense, or sensible perspective, but in fact are the whispers of God growing louder, the witness of Christ coming more into focus. The witness of Christ is what others see. Do others see a witness of Christ? Do others see Christ in me? At the very least, are those transcendent qualities of goodness and rightness even remotely detected?
Before I address these questions, let me first say that this whole business of meltdowns into fresh starts involves a demonstrative level of humility. And whether in the midst of some silly fit or something of much lessor or greater consequence, humility is all too often tethered to repentance and apology. Repentance being that crucial about-face we must endure when confronted with one undeniable fact—we are wrong, period. Apology (though not an instant remedy) being that equally crucial pivot toward putting our own words to this one undeniable fact, and that our knowledge thereof now sees the light of day. What follows are the essential ingredients to a fresh start. The stop. The heed. The about-face. A new reality is awakened. We are free.
On the eve of Easter season, a fresh start retains all the aroma of resurrection life, the redeeming sense of salvation from our deepest hells. In contrast, if we really are honest about the facts (that we are wrong and obedient repentance is the only remedy), any hindrance to the witness of Christ in our own selves will, in the long run, be hell.
Now to yesterday. A new day. A fresh start. An apology to my eldest children who witnessed my previous unraveling. A humbling acknowledgement that my behavior matters. My words matter. My emotions matter. We all know well that behavior, words, and emotions are not themselves the wayward path bound for a steep cliff. They are opportunistic offramps where notions of common sense and sensible perspective entertain the light of God and the witness of His son. We do well to not lose sight of this message among our deepest desires for worth and value. My concerns for our church family are good concerns. They have value. My attention to quality and detail is good and right. The witness of Christ in me is at its brightest. Surrender is subtle. Small, in fact. Fragile and miraculous. Enormous as a mustard seed.