The lights in the sky are dancing tonight. I suspect that heat lightning is the cause, but the verdict is still out. Tonight on the porch, last week in a hotel room, a thousand times a day lately I seem to be haunted by loneliness. It follows me like a stray dog, mangy and lean, keeping its distance cautiously but never ceasing to follow me with its insatiable eyes. I wonder sometimes what will happen when it gets comfortable enough to draw near.
I realized, last week in the hotel room, how such a feeling could lead to all sorts of evils, and I'm developing sympathies for every kind of sin I can imagine because I can see how they all get started. For some reason I seem to be able to pluck thoughts from my head and stare at them in wonder, thinking, "hm.... if I followed that particular thought, then I suspect it would lead me down this path to such and such a sin." I don't feel particularly tempted to follow these thoughts, but it has made me pray very differently for the people that come to mind.
I used to cry out to God in my loneliness for relief, and sometimes I still do, but for a while now I've been praying to walk in it, to really feel it, to allow it to come close and follow me home. I like to watch people, myself included, and I think I'm coming to the conclusion that most of the unpleasantness about people, most of my unpleasantness I should say, comes from trying to ignore the very thing that is bothering me. If I feel like a failure, I will become ridiculous in my attempts to make myself feel better than other people. If I feel I feel afraid, I will hide away from any chance I might get hurt. If I feel lonely, I will heap activities upon myself until I drown.
And very much like I felt God had brought me to the edge of a vast desert some weeks back, I now feel the sunbaked skin of my soul all blistered and peeling. Sweet oases like I had a couple weeks ago are rare and treasured, almost intoxicating after such long spells of dryness. But the vast majority of my life is spent trying to stay sane in the midst of so many voices of temptation.
The last word that I would use to describe my outward life right now is triumphant, in fact it both looks and feels quite the opposite. Yet I feel no need to create a frenzy of activity so that I can live under the illusion of my life being other than it is. Every self-help, motivational, leadership, and contemporary Christian book would probably tell me I'm not ____ enough (fill in the blank with your own adjective: holy, good, kind, funny, charismatic, etc), and I just need to ______ (fill in the blank with your own verb: pray, try, plan, research, etc). But I have to say I think I am exactly where God wants me to be right now. Maybe that's why I've decided to read only books whose authors are dead for a while. These dead authors seem to be much less preoccupied with how to get something done and more concerned about walking with God. Maybe I'm nuts, but they seem to be gnawing on the real problem instead of simply giving me more motivation to try harder in my self-delusion.
So I've been resting in Psalm 131:
Traveling through this desert is quite possibly the hardest thing I've ever done because every part of me wants to run screaming back to a mad, frenzied life of self-delsuion. And yet it feels like home.