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Soil Searching

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Recentlyin a sermon, Tom suggested we look for stones and clods in our lives that were keeping us from growing with Christ. I don't really have any big rocks or clods, I proudly said to myself. Wait a minuteHow about that pride you just felt? How about that driving thing? Yeah I've got them. Judgment is a great big clod I've discovered. It is usually masked as many little stones. I believe that Jesus has been at work in my life don't get me wrong. What's that they say? "If this is how far you've come, you must have been pretty far away." Seriously, during my spiritual journey that judgment clod has been hit several times with big hammers as God has been at work in me. I've even been able to throw some of those out. But I'm left with lots of little pieces that show up quite frequently during my day.

SoilSearching2So I'm driving in one morning and traveling on Route 28 in the middle lane. I'm the good guy who lets a car come into my lane. The driver used a blinker which I thought was impressive (more on that later), then quickly got into the left hand lane. Very quickly the cars in my lane accelerated and I was side by side with the driver who had just gotten all the way over in the next lane. He was going a few miles an hourunderthe speed limit. I sped past him going about 65 shaking my head and thought, "What a jerk. Doesn't the guy know the left lane is a passing lane?" Just as I had that thought, I quickly remembered my mother-in-law who when challenged with angry drivers riding her bumper would say, "The speed limit is xxMPH and I have just as much right to be in this lane as anyone."

I do the same thing with blinkers. What is it with northern Virginia drivers? I witnessed yet another person not using a blinker and I thought "so doesn't that expensive new Audi come with blinkers?" Ouch! There's the judgment and some envy for good measure. I even caught myself saying something about someone making a right hand turn, as I was, and not using their blinker. I looked down and sure enough neither was I! "How much more conviction do you need?" I asked myself. This is difficult.

As I continue to reflect on this rather large plank in my own eye, I find that my judgment may in fact be merited. I call it my Captain Justice Cape. I put it on and point out things that clearly may be against the law: "You see how fast that guy was going? He flipped me off as he passed, and I'm already going 70 on the access road. I hope he gets a ticket." But it appears that I am really just as guilty. So many times I don that cape and as I'm taking it back off, I've been convicted that perhaps I've got my own things I need to concentrate on, like not having to be right all the time. My judgment isn't really coming from a place that is concerned about the other individual(s). Rather, it is me needing to be right, superior or just altogether a much better person. Why is that? Why do I feel like I have to win or be better? I think it is that same struggle I have with acceptance of God's grace. How can God love everybody the same no matter what we've done or not done?

I struggle with that grace and forgiveness. Maybe it is the belief that I'm unworthy. Maybe it is because I can't wrap my head around the equality concept. After all, life is a game right? You win or you lose. I either have been a good person or a bad person. "Certainly God can't love Hitler" many skeptics say as the ultimate test of where God's grace ends and damnation begins. Actions merit judgment after all! At least that is what I've been raised to believe.

Just maybe the action that merits the judgment is mine. How I choose to react or believe is the only "judgment" necessary. I need to look at the speck in my own eye. Funny how Jesus uses aplankin the other guy's eye and aspeckin mine. It is just like thatthe other guy's actions, behaviors, thoughts, beliefs, and so on, are always much more egregious than mine. Maybe Jesus is saying that totally tongue in cheek, such as, "Bill, you know that speck–like not using your blinker? Maybe you should be looking at that and not worrying about that guy who was just texting while speeding past you." Maybe disobeying traffic laws all together isn't a good analogy since we shouldn't be doing either of those things, but you get my point. It isn't the size difference of the speck or plank; it is the fact that I've got something in my own eye. I'm just as guilty; I'm just as human. It is our shared condition.

There's the saying, "It's not the destination, it's the journey." How many times have I heard that? Someone recently said, "It's not the destination, it isn't the journey either. It's about who you are traveling with." Now THAT I like. Really there is no end to this spiritual journey. It is a circle of self-examination, honest "soil searching," grace and acceptance and action to do the next right thing through the strength of Jesus Christ living in me. When I am doing this with others on the journey? Well that's when divine space is opened and shared. There is beauty in the honest sharing of the vulnerability and hypocrisy that lives in each and every one of us. That truly is sacred space. Humility is tangible in this space. That's where I begin to become a better Christ follower and in the process just maybe a better driver?

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