Thursday, August 30, 2007

Reflections on Softball and Self-Centeredness

Tonight I saw myself. Tonight my true self was to revealed to me by the Spirit of God... at a softball game. I arrived at a playoff game for a community league, where without my knowledge I was required to have some form of picture identification. I had lost my wallet a few days before (here perhaps could be another meditation on providence), and thus had no picture ID on my person. For this reason they would not let me play (apparently cheating by having better players come and pretend to be another less skilled player is quite common in a community league... strange). So I had to drive all the way home to get my passport just to play.

As I was driving home I felt the anger and outrage surge within my core. It is the overwhelming kind of anger in which you mentally project all kinds of way to vindicate this obvious injustice, you try to fantasize about ways in which you will exact revenge on the sixty year old grandma for not budging on a stupid rule for a community softball game. I mean seriously... what the hell? I imagined myself throwing my passport at her, concoted all sorts of parables to express this outrage such as comparing this softball game to an airport during a level orange terror alert. Of course the inevitable happened too, as I was driving home I got stuck at seemingly every light and every single person who was not in a rush was placed providentially in front of me. Oh the outrage... Oh the injustice...

Yet, ever so quietly the Spirit began to work upon me. I began to think that something about how I felt was inordinate and excessive. So the Spirit, doing His job, turned me to Christ and convicted me of the outrageous sin that was in my heart. I asked Jesus to reveal to me the truth, to show me my heart. And here's what I saw; a young man so unbelievably wrapped up in himself that he feels as if he has been done a grave injustice by being forced to get an ID. I felt a deep sense of anger and outrage at a very small thing. And yet Christ showed me in a moment images of the many serious and grievous true injustices that happen in the world each day, and those injustices do not even raise an ounce of outrage or anger.

It turned out in this case that justice was unbelievably and ashamedly self-centered. I, in my heart, was the judge, jury, and executioner. I felt so wronged by this sweet old grandma, by these moseying drivers, by the stop lights because they were impeding my project, my plans... and that to me felt powerfully like injustice. I was amazed, in feeling this, at how often these kinds of experiences happen; an inconvenient red light, an unforseen interruption, an inoportune phone call, a mindless driver who pulls in front of me, all provoke in me a deep frustration and anger.

God showed me in just one moment, at one of the red lights I was waiting at, "this is my sign to you that the world does not revolve around you, look at the light, it is about others, not just you." I was amazed at all the Lord was showing me, and then I began to feel pride surge within me. "Look how insightful of a person I am... look how spiritual... look how knowledgeable about the matters of the heart he is." Absolutely staggering, I was experiencing what Jeremiah spoke of in his prophecies that the "heart is decietful above all things." My heart is a labyrynth of wickedness, every new turn bringing another besetting sin.

As I was arriving back at the softball game this final thought struck me, I was going to recieve salvation. I am going to inherit the new heavens and the new earth and dwell with God himself forever. A heart so turned in on itself, so often unmoved by God's great promises was going to recieve a gift so magnificent that words fall short of describing it. And all I could see in this moment was that it was for a heart like mine that Jesus suffered, was punished, and perished. I deserved the worst chambers of hell for me insiduous pride and overwhelminly blind ignorance of what justice really was. Yet God is going to show me "grace upon grace" in Jesus Christ. This is grace abounding to the chief of sinners.

1 comment:

Jedidiah said...

Most people would just laugh at the circumstance you just described and tell you to start talking about "real sin". However, it is alarming how ugly we can be at our core when confronted with even the slightest inconvenience. Some of my most revealing sins are uncovered against old ladies on the freeway.

How do you move through this besetting sin to a sanctified Christ-centeredness that deals graciously with setbacks?