Monday, September 5, 2011
Life: A Bipolar Experience
It's Labor Day and the sun is shining. After temps endlessly in the 90's it is a mellow and mild 70. The cicada sing to the waltz of the gentle breeze. God is great and life is good.
All it takes is one phone call to send us careening into chaos. "Mr. Harris, this is the Peoria County Sheriff. There has been a terrible car accident. . ." "Steve? This is Dr. Wahlberg's office. We received the results of your tests. Doctor wants to see you as soon as possible."
All it takes is one poor decision to plummet us to the depths. "Dad, I'm allowed one phone call. I'm calling from jail. . . "
Life is filled with laughter so deep it hurts; life is replete with hurt so deep one doubts she'll ever laugh again. It's still a mystery to me how to navigate such unpredictable waters. One season I can be sailing carefree and not a care in the cosmos; the next season I'm stranded in the middle of the ocean with no land or craft in sight, desperately clinging to a piece of shattered lumber, hoping to stay afloat.
The song of life can be so good that I lift my open hands in thanks and praise, and I have no sooner sung the chorus and a dirge begins and I'm shaking my angry fists at God.
I know I am not alone. Even the great saints and prophets of God have reported a similar experience. Hear the heart of the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah as he bursts into spontaneous joy. "Sing to the Lord! Give praise to God! He rescues the life of the needy from the hands of the wicked." And without skipping a beat he agonizes in lament, "Cursed be the day I was born! May the day my mother bore me not be blessed! Cursed be the man who brought my father the news, who made him very glad,saying, 'A child is born to you. . . !'" (Jeremiah 20:13, 14)
This unpredictability of life teaches me to savor the joyful, the wonder, the beauty without demanding it or allowing those moments to define me. Neither can I allow the hellish and horrific to dictate and determine my state of mind,my outlook. There is One who transcends both the delightful and the decimating; there is One who is above and not circumscribed by the awe-full and the awful.
I need eyes to see and ears to hear the One when there is so much vying for my attention, clamoring so loudly that often all I notice is the immediate, rather than the Ultimate.