Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Coal or Diamond - Part 3

image used under Creative Commons license, photo by John Mueller
It's easy, under the right circumstances, when you're not thinking with God, to feel valueless and just another lump in the pile like that picture to the left of a coal pile, ready to feed a steam heating system. That includes missing the diamond potential, even though it's there.  It also highlights the need to avoid glamorizing the wrong parts of the process.  That gives me a chance to make a side note on this series.

In some ways, this is the hardest set of posts I've had to write.  Only partly because there is much more that's personal.  Here's why:

There was an article that I read on Lifehacker, yesterday, that dealt with personal revelations.  I'll skip the names to, hopefully, avoid flying too far off topic by getting too engulfed in the details.  The situation revolves around tweets from a lady describing what she and her family were going through, with her terminal cancer.  She talked about the mental and emotional, as well as the physical.  

There is a married couple, both of whom are columnists, but for different publications.  Both wrote articles about how those tweets were very much oversharing.  The articles triggered a tweet backlash, from Twitter users defending the cancer victim's making her battle public.  And that highlights the problem I've been having.

In writing this series, I want people to see how I've come to some of the spiritual conclusions that I have.  So, it needs to be honest.  I have no problem with that.  But there can be a fine line between sharing the facts and glorifying the things that don't glorify God.  And there's a definite difference between what's important and what is just oversharing.  I'm still wrestling with where those boundaries are.  In a way, that was the story of my life, till I really met God.  Ever shifting, mostly indeterminate boundaries.

Through grammar and middle school, I was a pretty quiet kid.  As socially open as anyone, but not having a lot of opportunities, yet, to really cut loose.  My parents were keeping my self esteem up, as much as they could.  Not being amongst hardline evangelicals, social drinking was acceptable. Not for me during the school years, but it was an example that would prove to become a huge problem.  Leviticus 10:9 and Numbers 6:3 weren't among the Bible verses heard often.  Nor were verses like Proverbs 20:1 or Proverbs 31:4-6.  So, at birthdays and other parties, I'd finagle a small glass of beer or wine, in an attempt to feel "adult".

Before we go further, I'm sure there are some wondering how this was allowed.  How could my parents let this happen?  Remember the spiritual background.  When we saw Genesis 4:9b (KJV) , "And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?", it wasn't in the context of that we should be paying attention to our fellow man and rescuing a faltering brother.  It was misused to support laissez faire, hands off, we're responsible for our own actions, not the next guy's.

With the understanding my parents had, they were exceptional.  The mire of sin and wrong decisions and actions that were to come were my own fault, not theirs.  They did their best to give me what they believed to be the best social, economic, and spiritual opportunities.  And I was about to take a path that had me living in the title of an old Frank Sinatra tune: "I Did It My Way".  I wasn't big on church and Bible.  I was getting to consider them obligations, instead of a privilege.  And I was definitely more interested in being "cool" than being spiritual.

Staying with our comparison of coal and diamonds, I was more like the lump of coal than the diamond.  Even when I was "good", I wasn't reflecting God's light, nor was I allowing it to pass through.  There was too much of me and not enough of Him.  John wrote in John 3:30 (KJV) ,  "He must increase, but I must decrease.".  My version of that was, "It's all about me.".  The attitude displayed by the guys I considered cool was that kind of thinking.  To me, they looked like they had it all together, much more so than the sedateness of my parents.  It was only years later that I discovered these guys were as insecure as I was.  And the cool was a cover up for that insecurity. And I was already proving to be a pretty poor judge of spiritual reality.

So, here's the thing to meditate on, till the next portion of this series.  Were there times when you avoided being your brother's keeper and times when you aimed at everything being your way?  And, the real focus, how did God move you out of that?  What we need to keep in front of our spiritual high beams is who God is, how He uses our choices (even when they're wrong) to direct us toward Himself, and how much His love continues to give us chances to be one with Him, right up until our very last breath.


  1. Thank you. I'm glad it spoke to you.

  2. Now i must read the other two installments in order to understand this one... ;) Thanks for sharing Bill.

    1. The series is kind of "Bill's Spiritual Road Trip", complete with detours.

  3. Sadly many times it is "It's all about me". I struggle with it daily. But when I can see how God's light piercing me it is such a beauty to behold.