Tristan went berserk then...howling occasionally in a language not known on earth.
- Jim Harrison, Legends of the Fall
There are times I just want to howl.
I've felt that way lately.
Coyle was a mentor of mine for a brief season. As that time drew to a close, he challenged me: John, be a confessional pastor; live with your sin in plain sight.
I remember an evening years ago when I was a pastor, years after his challenge, standing before a gathering of other pastors imploring them to live a confessional life. I didn't have a biblical text (mistake #1). Rather, I read from The Velveteen Rabbit and asked if we, as leaders, could live and lead as broken men and women. From their faces and body language, I was speaking some unknown tongue, a language not known on earth. I might as well have been howling.
I believe this has changed somewhat since that evening years ago. But it is still the exception rather than the rule. Maybe it always will be. I don't know.
We just don't know what to do with our sin, which means we just don't know what to do with ourselves. We haven't found an app for that. The prevailing rah-rah seems to be that at some point the sin will go away, that I'll reign victorious, more than a conqueror, over this wretched body of flesh. And the thought that I might still be struggling with the same sin, or a variation on its theme, after all this time? Well, that must mean I'm a schmuck or weak or I just don't 'get it' or I haven't 'surrendered fully' or something.
Coyle also told me, years ago: John, your shit stinks, just like everybody else.
Guess what? It still does. Just like yours.
I've added a new name to my blogroll - Jamie The Very Worst Missionary - www.jamiewrightcr.blogspot.com. Her latest post gets at this in a funny, poignant way. I appreciated it. You might too. Maybe.
Then again, maybe not. If not, you might hear a ruckus in the background. There are times I just want to howl.