Sobering Up

Wake Up

“I stood below the Light, because I was made by it.
He that knows the truth knows what the Light is.
And he that knows truth knows eternity.
And he that knows love knows truth.”
~St. Augustine, The Confessions of St. Augustine

These days, I feel like we are stumbling toward a sobering. It’s a slow process, the process of waking.

For the last seven months, Amber and I have been been doing the next thing as best we can–punch the clock, visit the doc, watch our television stories, listen to the right reverend deliver a rousing charge at the Sunday meeting. Lather, rinse, repeat. In some ways, we’ve been the walking dead, numb to that famous “stuff of earth” that “competes for the allegiance I owe only to the giver of all good things.” As things settle, as we find our new normal, I’m finding myself desiring the real.

I’m wondering whether I need to visit the river Jordan again, whether I need to re-sink myself neath the healing, cleansing, flood. But there’s a loyalty that’s deeper than mere sentiment, or the river Jordan for that matter, and I’m reminded of the once-for-all cost of the cross. I’m grateful for that.

I’m watching this process in Amber, too. She’s the fuse on a Roman candle, sparking and fizzing and preparing to fire something beautiful heavenward. She dances to All Sons and Daughters in the kitchen, stomping out the beat with Titus on her hip and sings “wake up, wake up, wake up all you sleepers; stand up, stand up, stand up, all you dreamers; hands up, hands up, hands up, all believers.” In the intermissions, she speaks more candidly of her rebellion years, even those years she white-washed with notions of Jesus. She tells me of the Light of her waking, revels in the freedom that comes in the process of seeking conformation to the image of the real.

This sobering is a graceful process, the numb fading slowly, which is a good thing because being conformed is not a painless process. We’re both asking hard questions about the kind of people we want to be. And in that, I find myself using words like “Reformed,” and “Evangelical,” less and less, and I’ve never used the terms “Progressive,” or “Emergent,” (gasp) to describe my faith in the first place. This is sure to be a source of great consternation to some. But what when we say that we’re trying to live with our eyes fixed on the author and perfecter of our faith? What when we tell them that we’re trying to commune with God through the person of Christ? Then what? Perhaps our boiled-down theologies will look less important then.

Somehow, I doubt that.

In my lifetime, I’ve known a handful of people who have walked eyes-wide-open with God. These were the people who were by-God bent on the cross, on prayer, fasting, and scripture. They were quiet people, graceful, merciful. They took the beatitudes at face value, opined less, loved more. We are not these people yet, but we’re asking if we might get there one day.

This is the waking dream.

If’n you’re here today, and if’n you’re willing to share a bit, would you tell me about the people who you knew that walked with God? Share about them in the comments.

*Thanks for suffering my bit of journaling today. For regular updates, follow me on Twitter or like my Facebook page.
**Photo by Hugo Bernard, Creative Commons via Flickr.
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29 Responses to Sobering Up

  1. Eileen says:

    Interesting, I posted a All Son’s and Daughters song on my blog today. Love them! “She tells me of the Light of her waking, revels in the freedom that comes from in the process of seeking conformation to the image of the real.” That’s beautiful. The first person I thought of was my mom. She died when I was a teenager but her legacy of faith lives on.

  2. J.Ray says:

    I wish I had known this guy more. He was involved somewhat with YWAM and was a prof at GFES. Like the other handful of aboriginal followers of Jesus I been blessed to know, their faith and walk is expressed in a way that just shuts down our Western rationalized wrangling. More and more I want to sit in the sweat lodge and talk of stars or dance the Hauka in my silly white boy way and laugh with my Samoan brothers. I realize any comment like this can come across as patronizing or romantic. But I really long for it. Something about it makes me come alive. Maybe it is selfish in that regard. I hope it is honoring, humble and not naive. I guess time will tell which it is.

  3. finitemagic says:

    God is forever previous. He can only finish what He starts, and there is no finishing without a starting. Be still. My first responsibility before God is to let Him love me. Come away with Jesus. Let Him have His way with you. Let God seep into every pore of your aching soul. We do not have the capacity to imagine the full depth of His love for us. The cross is a hint and by no means the end of it, only a glorious beginning.
    I recently made a list of people that had influenced me the most. I just looked back over that list and saw no one I know personally that would serve as the prototypical believer with a deeper walk. All of the people that speak to me of ultimate surrender from their own experience are public figures. Rich Mullins would be near the top of that shorter list. Hold me Jesus, I’m shaking like a leaf, you have been King of my glory, won’t you be my Prince of Peace.
    By the way, the all important part of walking is not what I messed up yesterday or what’s going to take me out tomorrow, but my very next step, which is wholly now.

  4. Tanya Marlow says:

    Firstly: this “She’s the fuse on a Roman candle, sparking and fizzing and preparing to fire something beautiful heavenward” is such a beautiful description of Amber. Real sonnet stuff, right there.

    Second: yes, in answer to your question. Yes, and it’s good to be reminded of this. One comes to mind- John – working as a missionary in Mozambique. His wife died in an accident while they were on honeymoon. He continued to work in the orphanage they’d set up together. But he sounds like a hero/martyr, and really he was just having fun. He played with those boys and played trucks on them, and ate seafood looking at the sunset, teasing the visitors. He knew the Bible so well- church looks different when you’re doing cross cultural stuff, and church was hearig preaching (2 or 3 sermons) in a second language and 3 hours of worship on top. E taught us from the Bible – no formal training, he just knew it. He read it. “Why don’t you write a commentary on Romans?” I asked. “You’re so good at this.”

    He burst out laughing.
    “The last thing the world needs is another commentary on Romans!” He said.

    He fasted every Wednesday, even in that country which didnt have much food. He liked to seek God.

    Thanks for prompting that memory!

  5. HisFireFly says:

    Your honesty
    willingness to drop pretence
    is the kind of “real” Christ asks us to be
    I believe that is how we walk with Him
    meet each other
    and walk through hand in hand

  6. dukeslee says:

    One of my dearest friends, Hazel, is 90 years old. I try to sit near her at church, mostly because I love the way her eyes light up when the Scripture readings are uttered — The OT, then the Psalm, then the Epistle and then the Gospel reading.

    Hazel has never been married, and she sits by her brother, Helmer, at church. Sometimes, Helmer has a blue comb in his front pocket. Sometimes, his cell phone rings during church, which I think is really funny, for some reason. Mostly because he’s 88 and his ring-tone is sort of silly. Helmer had a twin brother, Selmer, who died a couple years back. Hazel wore black for weeks after he died.

    Hazel rarely opens the hymnal, because she knows the songs by heart — all four or five verses. But when I’m the “Church DJ” on contemporary Sundays — spinning some of that new-fangled worship music from the back of the room — Hazel tries to sing along. Never has she complained.

    I asked her a few months ago what she wanted to be known for. Her answer: “That God loved me anyway.”

    (Regarding the terms — i.e. evangelical, Reformed, etc — I’ve been running down that same thought road these last weeks. I blogged about the E-word yesterday, in fact.)

    Always love when you stir a little Rich Mullins into your prose.

    • sethhaines says:

      Thank you for this story. “That God loved me anyway…” Yup.

      If I have a 5th boy, his name is Helmer Haines for sure. And, has Amber ever told you about Elmber Belmer Udie Ann Sara Mary Elizabeth Jane? Tis a real name.

      As for Rich? He’s a staple. We need another.

      • dukeslee says:

        LOL! No. I hadn’t heard about Elmber Belmer Udie Ann Sara Mary Elizabeth Jane, so I of course had to google it. And I have now learned a bit about Marijuana Pepsi as a result.

      • sethhaines says:

        Talk about what’s in a name! Poor girl. I hope she’ll turn out to do something great, or at least sort of good.

  7. I’m going to take the opine less, love more to heart. It was a great read here today, thanks for this.

  8. pastordt says:

    “he loved me anyway” – Oh, be still my heart. These words and all of yours are just lovely, Seth. Thanks so much. Let me tell you just a little bit about Thomps. Grew up an unbeliever, served in the navy, came home to marry Nancy and then, they met Jesus. He worked for 3-M for 40 years, but also worked for Jesus in quiet, gentle ways for more years than that. He loved students, so he volunteered with the youth group. He poured himself most particularly into young men, taking them to breakfast, seeking to know their hearts. He encouraged many of them to consider ministry – whether in the church or outside it. I know of at least a dozen men over those years who went on to become pastors and probably 100 or more who served Jesus in whatever job they found. Every student who came through that ministry loved that man, not only for his quiet devotion and unflagging faithfulness, but also for his constant willingness to be the butt of the joke, to look anything but cool, to honestly admit his age and never act anything but. We begged him to consider staying on in that volunteer role just when he was wondering if maybe he was finally too old – we had a boy coming up and we so wanted Thomps to be a part of his story. He agreed and served those kids another four years before moving over into visitation as a Lay Pastor, something he did for about 15 years, until he died 5 years ago, two years after his beloved Nancy. She, by the way, was a prayer warrior like few I’ve ever known. If you stood in a prayer circle with her, she would speak in a beautiful language and you would be changed. Changed, I tell you. My daughter once told me with a sigh that she so wished there had been a woman in the youth group like Thomps, someone to mentor girls in the way that so many fine young men had been cherished by Thompsie. He is the closest I’ve ever come to touching Jesus with my skin and I will be grateful for him until the day I die – and beyond. Thank you for asking. (I just checked my archives, and I wrote about Thomps the year in died as the 2nd of a 2-part reflection on Mark’s story of the widow’s mite. You can find that here, if you’re interested: )

  9. I’ve read about such people. I knew few in my day-to-day life besides the one who walk next to me on the road. Their lives aren’t as polished as the autobiographies, but I suspect that’s true of anything three-dimensional and not confined to a page. But they are always moving forward. Their lives are marked by humility, love and wisdom.

    There are times, when I don’t know how to handle a situation, that I ask myself: How would someone I admire deal with this? What path would make me think, “Now there’s a disciple of Jesus?” Then that’s the road I choose.

    • sethhaines says:

      I was talking about that, too. I was referencing the passage wherein Paul says (essentially), be like me because I’m like Jesus. (1 Cor 4:16). We have people in our lives who we try our best to follow because they try to follow Christ. I’m pretty thick-headed though. Sometimes that’s difficult stuff.

      Thanks for coming here, Kelly.

  10. Pingback: In which I link you up (vol 1.12) | Sarah Bessey

  11. michaboyett says:

    Seth, I think I’ll have to read and re-read this one. There’s so much goodness in here. And I feel like there’s been a song from Rich that goes with every major spiritual moment of my life.
    Also, I feel like Chris and I are in the same place, constantly asking what we are and where we’re going and what it means to become the “quiet people, graceful, merciful” who take “the beatitudes at face value, opine less, love more.” Thanks for speaking right to where I am. So grateful to be walking with you and Amber from afar…

    • sethhaines says:

      A song from Rich for ever moment? Looks like I’m in good company. “What we are and where we’re going…” Amber and I ask this question so much these days. It’s a difficult one to ask, let alone answer.

      Thanks for stopping by here, Micha.

  12. The only term that I can still get behind (evangelical, post-evangelical, emergent, progressive BLAH) is Jesus Lover. I think I am getting it tattooed on myself fopr my thirtieth birthday because that is all I have. My parents raised my sisters and I well, they invited all of my dad’s street-lawyering clients to the house and my mom served them potatoes and dignity. We had no money and still did what we could. I was raised in a home where my parents really did pour out their lives for the least of these. Because of this example my sisters and I are surprised when “missional living” gets presented to us like some new thing….we all thought it was just what you did in response to Jesus. This is good, but it makes me the weird girls sometimes at Bible Study.

  13. onepartjoyonepartcircus says:

    I found you through Lisa Jo… and started reading and just kept going… and going… I stopped here to leave a comment because I loved this post and the songs you used. I have known a few people like this… but I feel like I am surrounded by people who are working toward imperfect progress everyday… and are inspiring me to do the same.
    I have been lifted up by friends as an inspiring believer {who like you and your wife am leaning away from any title but Christ lover}, but I have yet to feel like I’ve arrived at any great point. Great post. Love your blog. I will be back. oh yes. Off to stalk your wife’s blog now. 🙂

    • sethhaines says:

      Thank you so much! “Imperfect progress,” now that is aptly put. It’s awfully hard sometimes, but we’re trying the best we can.

      Amber is the star writer around these parts. I think you’ll like her.

      Thanks for stopping in.

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