Zachary Bright

The Wonder of it All

Making the Best of the Unendurable

3 Comments

969542_642723085756276_420344117_n

“An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered.” – G.K. Chesterton (On Running After One’s Hat, All Things Considered, 1908)

I have not posted for a few days because I did not want to spread discouragement. Sometimes discouraging someone is a wicked thing to do. When we live in a world where people are slimed with evil or corruption and where entropy (The 1st and 2nd Laws of Thermodynamics) is a drag on all that we do, so that we must, with effort, create and maintain some beauty and order in our world, and keep some kind of hold on truth and reality, we all need all the courage we can get. C.S.Lewis wrote: “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” Courage is required for every other virtue. For instance, courage helps to make a love that endures. To endure the costs of our projects and dreams or merely to endure with patience, faith and hope the difficulties of life, requires courage.

What motivates these reflections? After an upcoming surgery on my foot, I am facing six or more weeks of non-weight-bearing and some time in a rehab center or skilled nursing facility. I have been in this position before: almost a year of not walking in 2003 and four months of being non-weight-bearing earlier this year. I’m not worrying about the future; I see the future. If you read my post, “True Freedom”, you might have a clue that I have ‘issues’ with loss of control and not being able to produce and just the whole captivity with no definite end in sight. Notice that I said ‘captivity’, not ‘confinement’ or ‘convalescence’. ‘Incarceration’ might not be far from the mark. For awhile I collected pictures of dogs, wolves and foxes caught in traps. I have heard that they will sometimes gnaw a leg off to get away. I would do that without hesitation. I have done not literally that, but some things very like that. I understand that millions of people around the world are going through great suffering that I may never face: Christians facing persecution or people with a terminal illness. Pain is not my issue; I may even have a high pain threshold. When I have broached this subject, people have said something like, “Oh yeah that must be uncomfortable but necessary for the desired result or to avoid something worse.” Well that is true as far as it goes, but I do not then feel understood on a deep level. Someone who could understand that with my temperament and experiences, the captivity might almost be worse than the disease, would give me some hope of being understood. Everyone that is working with me on health issues wants what is best for me and some of them love me. Sometimes I wish though, that one person on my health team would have the single aim of getting me out of captivity as soon as possible.

I believe everything that I wrote in other posts. Underneath me are the Everlasting Arms. God knows what is best for me and he is faithful and has never let me down. God will still use me for his glory, and to serve him is perfect freedom. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28, ESV) Moreover, I understand the wisdom of living in ‘day-tight compartments’. We should not let regret for the past or worry about the future to bleed into today, and it is only today that I can meet with God and know his presence. Perhaps, like many, your thoughts have leaped to St Paul’s declaration: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13, NRSV) I can add to that. Job in his understanding, by the end of the book, of God’s revelation of himself proclaims that, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2, NRSV) Jesus assured a desperate father with a demonized son that, “All things can be done for the one who believes.” (Mark 9:23cc, NRSV) I suppose you know that a ‘but’ is coming. Well, yes…

But still, while relying on God’s purpose and provision, the question remains of how to face and endure a known reality. Finding the quote above from G.K. Chesterton helped me to decide to make the time in captivity an adventure, especially an adventure in reading. I remember that C.S. Lewis sometimes enjoyed being home ill, because he could then plan and execute an ambitious reading plan for the duration. So I will try to go into receiving mode and make the best of it. I have tried this before with mixed results. I will certainly tell you if it doesn’t work.

Someone will suggest that if something must be done, it can be done. That is pretty cold comfort, and besides, not always true. However, I have observed that often when we think we can’t endure any more, we can endure a little more, and then we can add a little more to that, and so on.

“Alone of all the creeds, Christianity has added courage to the virtues of the Creator. For the only courage worth calling courage must necessarily mean that the soul passes a breaking point and does not break.” – from Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton

This post was powered by the album, “Worldwide Favorites” (1999) and the song, “Hopeless, Etc.” (1992, from “Dig”) both by Adam Again, and the song, “You” (1997, from “The Legend of Chin”) by Switchfoot.

Advertisements

Author: Zachary Bright

Until February 2014, I was pastor of Divine Savior Presbyterian Church for about 24 years. I am interested in theology, alternative music, new worship music, culture making, philosophy and dogs. Most of all I am interested in extending the Kingdom of God and its blessings to everyone around me. I am the Director of the Southern CA. C.S. Lewis Society and I am a graduate of Azusa Pacific University and Fuller Theological Seminary. My wife Terry, my dog Jack Lewis and I host a Bible Study in our home on Sunday afternoons.

3 thoughts on “Making the Best of the Unendurable

  1. Hello Mr. Zac

    I have been enjoying your posts since I discovered them a few months ago. It would be an understatement to say the I am slow on reciprocal communication. But I have not read a single post so far that has not created an added value to my life on some level. I wish you all the best and Julie and I will keep you in our prayers.
    I love the quotes from Lewis and Chesterton. I must admit that Chesterton has left me a little perplexed sometimes. An author who I admire (it may have been Yancey) said that if he could only have two books on a deserted island – it would be the Bible and Orthodoxy. I dutifully purchased Orthodoxy and have tied into it with the best intentions several times. As Obama once infamously quipped “the work is above my pay grade.”
    I felt like I walked into an old dinner club in downtown London and after going deep enough in the smoked filled rooms full of obtuse conversation – realized that there must have been some mistake. I returned my ticket to the man at the entrance booth and mumbled something like – “forgive me but I simply must turn in for the night”.
    Actually – to be fair – a deserted island would be the perfect place for that book. I would have all the time in the world to let his oblique and mysterious words sink in. I think GK never met a paragraph that could not be improved by a few more paradoxical analogies. But for all of that I still love the man and have been blessed by many of his thoughts. Please let me know if you have any ideas about his other writings that might be more lucid to me.
    Of course having time to read is challenging for me –
    A man of 60 with a young son of five and a teenager of 16. God does have a sense of humor.

    Another one suspended above the everlasting arms

    Kipley.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kipley Thor! I’m so glad you’ve been reading my posts. I like that: “improved by a few more paradoxical analogies”. Also, the “smoke filled rooms”. As for reading from Chesterton, if you would like a Christian alternative to works like Bronowski’s “Ascent of Man”, you might enjoy “The Everlasting Man”. Admittedly, when I was a high school teacher and used this book, my students found GKC a tad verbose. If you are at all interested in fiction, my hands-down recommendation is “The Man Who Was Thursday”, a mysterious book that seems to be GKC’s theodicy, sometimes reprinted with “Introduction to The Book of Job”. The book is a detective story and a fantasy, with maybe a touch of ‘magic realism’. I won’t spoil it for you with my interpretation. With a limited time to read, you might enjoy dipping into some of the Father Brown stories. Considering the spread of sharia in Western countries, “The Flying Inn” is downright prescient. I have noticed on Facebook that you are a very talented visual artist. Give my love to Julie.
    Grace & Peace,
    Zac

    Like

  3. Thanks for keeping it real Cuz. Love you Bro.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s