I am currently in flight between Seattle and Chicago--in route to Hartford. I have been away from home in San Jose California for about 75% of the time this past month, and I can feel it inside. The fragmentation that I sometimes experience in periods of high travel always reminds me of the need for 'home'. The need for a place of rest and a place of 'safety' is so important to us, and I think that is reminder of our need to find 'rest' in the presence of our Lord. I always think about the 'strangers and pilgrims' passages at times like this...for I too desire a 'city whose builder is God' (Heb 11.13-16; I Pet 1.1, 17; 2.11)
I learned a lot about myself these past several weeks and past several trips, always coming face to face with self-delusions and self-over-estimations [a problem not unique to me, I hasten to add humbly ;>) ] and self-ignorance...[Hmmm...is that another self-stultifying statement: "I learned a lot about my self-delusion"? ;>) ] It is amazing how wrapped up we can be in ourselves, yet without having a clue what we really need or want. I remember when I first gave up trying to 'chart my own destiny'. It was painfully obvious that as smart as I thought I was, that I did not have any reason to trust my self-knowledge as to what would make me happy, fulfilled, useful to the world, contented, actualized...My self-assessment has consistently been wrong, and I suspect that other humans are likewise 'epistemically challenged' in this regard! [cf. I Cor 4.3]
The number of executives that I run across who 'got what they came for', only to find out that it did not satisfy or deliver 'the goods' to them is amazing. I remember some Christian book describing the reality that many successful people 'reach the top of the ladder of success, only to find that it is leaning against the wrong building'. I experience this too often--in micro scales--in my personal choices. Things that I thought would satisfy or delight, don't. Relationships that I thought would be constructive and ennobling, weren't. Activities that I thought would yield sweetness or growth, didn't. People I had idealized, weren't.
This doesn't stop me from still experiencing God-built interests in new experiences and growth and sweetness and the such; it just makes me less cynical when they don't deliver, and less obsessive about 'reaching them'. I increasingly come back to the 'seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you'. I don't know what I want, need, could profit from (I know a lot that I DON'T NEED!) in terms of life experiences--but it's not my problem anymore! My marching orders are clear--and those I CAN know well enough. I have found that He brings things, experiences, and people into my life as they seem to be needed or for a blessing.
I am not actually discouraged by my self-ignorance, either, simply because that does not seem to be too limiting for what I need to be about. There is enough self-knowledge to know what kinds of things I can do adequately (e.g. perhaps simple research and writing) and what kinds of things I am abysmally and dismally inadequate for (e.g. the rest of life! ...just kidding...things like, administration or pastoring). So, since my charter as a follower of the Lord Jesus is to approximate a servant and to focus on the needs of others, I don't have to waste time trying to "figure me out" to meet MY needs at all. Something like 'He who loses His life for My sake shall gain it"...(smile).
For some reason my business workload has increased dramatically over the past two months, along with the travel. My ThinkTank updates have slowed to once a month, and it has been a struggle to 'accept' this--given the urgency of many of the questions (none of them simple, I assure you!!!) submitted. My guess is that if I could do the Tank full-time, then I could finish the existing backlog of questions in about 18-24 months. And, accordingly, at the slow, piece-meal, 'gather up the minutes that remain' pace I have to work at, it will take a long time to research (that is the hard part, of course) and write up the existing backlog. I delight in this, of course, because as I attempt to approach each question with fresh eyes, an open heart, and an expectation of being delightfully surprised by my God, I learn so much and I experience such freedom and satisfaction...As thorny as some of these problems look, and as disturbing as they are from a distance, they hide incredible insights into the beauty of the heart of God once you really get inside them. I have seen this in so many 'problem passage' and 'problem issues' over the last two years...
This is not to say that I have all or even most of the answers--it's just that I see a trend here...As I investigate intensely, I am getting answers to questions that I (and many others) have had for a long time. I have every reason in the world, on the basis of just the last two years of doing this, to give my God and the scriptures the 'benefit of the doubt'.
My actual business title is "VP, Strategy and Research" for $2.5B technology services firm. My core role is to see patterns and trends, predict the future, assess the probability and business risk associated with 'being wrong', find the REAL hidden flaws in plans/ideas/arguments, and design organizational change for us and for our customers. I work with trends and patterns every day of my business life (and many nights, obviously!) and constantly have to 'second guess' and anticipate the blind spots in my own prognostications. Over the 10+ years I have been in this specific role, I have developed self-critical skills and an attitude of self-questioning that is essential to me keeping my job! This, of course, is one of the major reasons that Tank questions that might need only 3 pages of answer, end up getting 20 pages instead--'no stone unturned' approach. I cannot study these questions exhaustively, but I have learned over the years (somehow) how to anticipate WHERE the biggest difficulties will be 'hiding' within a problem or situation...
I honestly am totally convinced--intellectually--that the early/traditional Judeo-Christian worldview makes the most sense of the data of history (including religious history), the human condition and remedy thereof, the structure and ground of "reason" and thinking (e.g. the Transcendental argument of the Reformed-types), the origination of the fine arts, the mystical aspects of 'religious experience', universal social structures, the acquisition of language, the macro-"oddness" of the Judeo-Christian scriptures, the transcendental 'feel' of moral decision/choice/conscience, the truly opulent robustness and diversity within the universe and within life, the reality and acidity of evil, the violence/intensity of some of the anti-Christian responses, and our wholesale inability to keep Jesus Christ in the tomb--He just 'stays in our face' somehow as a race, and breaks out of even our best efforts to institutionalize, "explain", domesticate, and type-cast/enlist Him in favor of our 'pet causes'. There are open issues, of course [else I wouldn't have to keep paying for my web site ;>) ], but they are dwarfed by the positive answers given in the vast and varied majority of these arenas.
Mind you, this is COMPLETELY SEPARATE from my personal experience of the Invisible God! I am not even including my own personal mystical experiences, my personal awareness of obvious answered prayer, my personal experience of changed character and orientation, my personal perception of patterns of providential circumstances in life, my personal perception of these in the lives of others. These also have an 'intellectual' side, and can also count as 'data' for me, but the above 'cognitive' data I STILL find compelling all by itself.
My voice, however, is simply a quiet one. I am not an aggressive person (that's an understatement!), not very 'evangelistic', nor even very outspoken. But I do try to be honest and share my results with others...and one person called evangelism "one beggar, telling another beggar where to find bread"...I sorta put myself into that category.
Life used to be a very, very frightening experience for me...There were no helpers, there were no guides, there were no teachers, there were no big-brothers with which I was safe...
Some people seek out the Lord with agonizing questions, some with a desperate need for joy, some with a need for significance, some with burdens of guilt, some bleeding relationships...all I wanted was peace, and good night's rest in a safe haven...words cannot express (and I can barely see my typing through these tears at 36,000 feet) what the Prince of Peace brought to me and means to me today. I 'got what I came for' (although I could not have articulated the content and contours of the vague pain and alienation and fear that characterized my heart then at 20 years old), but I got so much more...I didn't ask for life, but somehow it rubs off on you if you 'hang out with' the Bread of Life...I didn't ask for joy, but the brief, but intense, moments of quiet celebration that I experience daily cannot be denied...I didn't ask for true gentleness (I already had 'lack of confrontation due to fear'--I have found there to be a huge, huge difference between the two!), but I see it emerge from my heart sometimes ;>)
He salvaged my life--through powers and influence somehow unleashed at the Cross that I will never fathom--and now, for all its turbulence and all its fragmentation and all its failures, my life is now a quiet, but eagerly anticipated daily adventure...I have a Shepherd who carries me through dangerous places, I have a Leader who challenges me to 'keep up', I have a Guide who warns me of the treacherous paths, I have a Counselor who helps me pick up the pieces, and I have a Teacher who pushes me and questions me and tests me and is pleased when I make good grades ;>)...I no longer walk alone...and life is not so scary for little glenn anymore...
Can there be any wonder why I pour my life into trying to answer people's questions in this Tank?
By an awesomely expensive grace that creates newness, enduring love, freedom, life, depth, self-control, and peace--all beginning with complete and ungrudgingly-given forgiveness to those who sincerely ask,
Glenn Miller, Nov 11, 1997