Sinkholes and Black Holes
Triumph or Agony by Rhapsody of Fire
–The Black and the Purple Chapter III: Dagger in the Dark
–Final Fantasy VIII: Currently killing Tonberries at the Centra Ruins, beginning of Disc III.
It’s been a while since Pastor Dennis Legaspi spoke. Since he’s based in CCF south, he only occasionally comes to the North side to speak. I was glad he came today. The Lord spoke through him and helped me set some things straight.
Pastor Dennis spoke from his own experience. He was a high-flier in the corporate world for quite a while, and he got a taste of what it was like to be there at the top: the executive suits of a large banking corporation, access to the executive elevator that was defended from the rank and file employees by guards, and a huge paycheck, not to mention hefty profit shares.
All this came at a cost, of course: many other aspects of his life suffered as he threw himself body and soul into his career. This seemed to be a natural effect of his lifestyle; He developed aggressive and selfish tendencies and a volcanic temper. He also mentions that there were “corpses he left in his wake”—inadvertent victims of his ambition that he might not have even willingly trampled upon. After all, there are losers if there are winners.
Ironically, it was at this stage that people tend to lose control of their lives. When they sail strongest and hardest, when they actually lose control of their direction and their striving pulls them to an eventual state of depression. Pastor Dennis also quoted Oscar Wilde’s prison writings (after he’d been imprisoned for gross indecency):
Desire at the end was a malady, a madness or both. I grew careless of the lives of others. I took pleasure where it pleased me and passed on. I forgot that every little action of the common day makes or unmakes character…
One might be tempted to say these are all exaggerations, but even the Bible agrees: Solomon, the most intelligent and wealthy king of his time, eventually concluded that everything was vanity, a chasing after the wind.
Then I became great and increased more than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. My wisdom also stood by me. All that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my reward for all my labor. Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun. –Ecclesiastes 2:9-11
So unless checked, success in this sense is like a sinkhole, a black hole. It appears suddenly, and without warning, sucks the life and joy out of you. How, then, does one becomes successful and not get sucked in?
When day came, Jesus left and went to a secluded place; and the crowds were searching for Him, and came to Him and tried to keep Him from going away from them. But He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.”
So He kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.
We see here that Jesus actually refused the people who were begging Him to stay, many of whom were probably genuinely in need in the first place.
Because Jesus knew exactly why He was here. He was sent to do something, and He knew that following these people would detract from what He came to do. He knew His purpose. Purpose predetermines priorities.
Now you might be expecting an advertisement of The Purpose-Driven Life. Nothing of the sort. That’s not my point here, although I occasionally hear this being mocked in my face. In any case, Pastor Dennis brought our attention to what Jesus designated as the purpose of Christians:
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. –Matthew 5:13-16
This really made me feel a lot better. As of late I’ve been suffering from a feeling of drifting, of having no direction and no purpose. I struggled with my work daily only to meet my quota of teaching hours; I hadn’t been doing it with heart. Everything was as a phantom to me–fleeting, hazy, and ultimately insubstantial. This message renewed me, reminded me of my direction, of the way I had walked as a college student. I didn’t know where I was going back then, but my purpose was clear: I wanted people to know about my God.
The problem is, a lot of us Christians don’t even think about this. People are struggling to see the difference, but they don’t see anything. They watch us and examine us, but we don’t do anything to make them think we’re any better off. Christians are known worldwide for being uptight, myopic, and worst of all, hypocritical. I receive such accusations as well, and I know that many times, they’re true.
We’re called to be salt and light in this dark and dying world, and all we do with the salt is rub it into their wounds and blind their eyes with the light.
I want people to know my God cares about them. I want them to know He gives a damn. I want them to see that my God has lavished me with so much mercy despite my proud and selfish ways. I want them to see that even though my flesh contends with the Spirit, my God shows me that He loves me, and that He loves them. I don’t want to trample people in my wake. I want to pull them up.
After all, when God appeared to Elijah, He wasn’t in the hurricane, the earthquake, or the fire.
He was in the gentle whisper.
Back to Basics,
Your Black Lion