I just wanted to give an update:
The update: no change, started sending out resumes last Friday,
heart is more settled (as in 2 Sam 12.20ff), trusting, not-bitter, still
unable to get the hope completely out of my system (too much is still swirling
around out there in providence land), frustrated at not being able to answer
the Tuff-questions and appeals for help (nobody sends me the 'easy ones'!)
that are still stacking up. I did some real "marketing" late in October,
but the results won't show up for a few weeks, and I have run out of runway--I
don't have time to wait to see if that will make the venture a success
And I have gotten tons of emails from sweet-hearted readers, offering prayers and empathy and encouragement and advice and exhortation...sweet souls these...
Most of the stuff I write for the Tank takes tons of solitary research and tons of 'brooding' time, to think through the issues (I am a slow thinker, and don't do well with questions "on my feet")...and therefore so much of my life is lived in "seclusion" (seems I am quite well suited for that, actually, given my personality quirks and baggage)...This past year, of course, has contributed to that, as I spent the year producing desktop video courses on my computer and TV equipment--it was a wonderful break to not be on an airplane every week of my life...
But I do actually see 'live' people at my church. They let me teach one of the Sunday school classes (and now a Tuesday night class), and I have been able to interact with and be a part of a large group of dear-hearted souls. I remember rather distinctly, a perception I had some months ago, as I watched the group mingle over coffee before the class started. There was a warmth between these people, a genuine delight to see one other, people hugging--of every conceivable nationality and ethnic mix (the church is in Palo Alto California, and many people from Stanford attend), smiles well beyond politeness and cordiality. There was real love there, from fallen-but-forgiven people to fallen-but-forgiven people. There was laughter louder and brighter than what should have been from the individual witty remarks (remember C.S. Lewis' description of the categories of joy/happiness in the Screwtape Letters), and there was a comfort among them that evoked notions of warm homes and safety from a cold drizzle. I think that was the first time I really saw the beauty of the Bride of Christ. I had known it "theologically", of course, but like so many of our beliefs, it often takes time for them to come alive and fill with color, warmth, and wiggle).
The NT epistles describe the church (the invisible one, which is united in love for one another, in spite of itself!) as the Bride of Christ, and describes her in glowing terms. I remembered from days past how I personally looked at my bride so long ago, and I began to see a different dimension to Jesus' love for the Church. He sees something truly beautiful in us, something winsome, something of incandescence, something to be cherished. His love is not just some disguised 'pity' or altruistic condescension (grace is much 'kinder' than that), but after He has rescued us from our own histories, habits, and horrors, His love appears so much more robust. We are not simply sheep, not simply freed slaves, not simply pardoned criminals--we have become (by grace) a bride-to-be, being groomed and cherished and warmed and delighted in (Eph 5).
On the Tank I get questions about every horrendous thing that has ever been done in "the name of Christ". I know about so many atrocities, cold-blooded actions, self-serving decisions, power-elite building abuses, all perp'd in the name of religion. "Time would fail" to tell of the Hall of Shame--the licentious (and possibly even cannibalistic) fringe cults of the early centuries, the torture of Torquemada, the Borgia family's influence, the anti-semitic writings of Luther, the financial and sexual abuses of some of the church today--and so the beauty of the Church is often 'disguised' for so many.
But I saw it that day, and many times since. I saw the love and acceptance
and abandoned forgiveness that characterizes God Himself--the ultimate
value, the enduring virtue, the eternal 'good'. I saw what might have prompted
God to 'boast' about Job, and what perhaps amazes the angels so. I got
a glimpse of what the New Heavens and Earth would be like--a glowing, incandescent,
warming beauty of love from pure hearts and agenda-less loyalties. The
Children of God will someday completely radiate that which breaks forth
now from inside (I John 3)...imagine what that will mean for our experiences
of one another...
I see a lot of it in different ways, of course, in emails at the Tank: deep words of encouragement, earnest commitments to prayer, simple but genuine thanks, taking a place beside me in sorrow or difficulty, or even just sharing some new lesson the gentle, good-hearted God has taught someone...This is NOT how normal humans act! There IS a "community of saints", there is a unity of love, there is a one-ness among us that we did not fashion and could never achieve 'organizationally' or by effort. I have seen it, here at the Tank, in spirits-in-letters from every major group of Christendom (and even an occasional soul from a 'fringe group'). I cannot deny this...Every major group seems to have its own vibrant, growing, teachable, self-critical cadre, as well as its dead, solely-institutional, status-quo replicating group...and among those sold out to Jesus Christ, even the "sibling rivalry" gets put on hold, when issues of the heart and spirit and kinship arise...
We know the visible church is contaminated--scripture is quite clear on that (cf. The many passages on false teachers, and even Paul's comment in 1 Cor 11.18ff)--and that leadership is to be judged by their fruits, according to Jesus (Matt 7.15ff). But we also know that the visible church contains this beautiful Bride, this group of fierce-lovers, free-forgivers, and across-barrier-huggers...
Well, I got a little long-winded there...but the letters this past couple
of weeks have reminded me of this again and again and again...
Thanks to so many of you, for the incandescence you have shown me in your emails over the past five years...
A hesitant (but still alive) Glenn Miller