Live Closely with Yourself

Our home is far from the swarms of humanity you'd find in a big city, far from anything "big" at all except the sky and the forest and the Pacific. We nestle in to mountain valley, coming up from all sides. We drive a few miles from the state highway and dead-end in a cow pasture. Our world is not ugly nor unappreciated, unless you count the pollen or measure the rain or fear the wild, but we don't live all our time in this country-bubble, country bumpkins unwise to the greater world. We don't deny the presence of opposition and we are not ignorant to many of the evils our culture thrives on.

But we come home to the end of the road and birds sing for us each morning, evening comes on back porches, and if you know me, you know I love home.

I want this retreat.

remember

Honestly, I want this hermitage and I would never leave were it not for my leaving-children and my sending-faith, both of which I do battle with daily. I don't want to go and I don't want them to go and why can't all the lost and broken just come find us here, peaceful and hospitable? What good a mountain valley would do the world.

I want this retreat, because the world is terrible and large and largely dangerous and "they" are tearing it up, shredding it like junk mail. "They" are making a mockery of good Words and "good people" and everything requires these quotes because nothing is true for everyone, "they" say.

Air quotes. Implied assumptions. Cynical skepticism.

Maybe we live in the city of destruction with a constantly vexed soul, and we are too comfortable in our hermitages and monasteries. Maybe we live too much in the peace and not enough in the perseverance—the grit required to be in this world but not of it—and our souls would do well to to find out what need we have to be well.

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It's possible that I need the reality of the world to reveal the reality of my sinful self; everything's easy when everything's easy, and I forget who I am.

Like the time we lived as a family of six in a camp trailer for 7 months while our house was being built: we thought we were patient, kind, reasonable people, but we learned otherwise. We learned that our sin is easier to manage in the comfort of a 4 bedroom home and much harder to hide in a 30 foot trailer.

Living closely with yourself is not the same as living alone or in a spacious, easy place. It's a trip to the other side of town, a visit to the place you avoid, an open-life in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation and a constant reviewing of your own sin.

Living closely with yourself means you see the evil in your own heart and have compassion for the strugglers and stragglers trying to overcome without Jesus, living in small souls and tight places.

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remember

I venture out of the bubble on a weekly basis and the shock is always shocking, the reality always a reminder: we are aliens. We are strangers, and we assimilate or die daily in a culture that will vex our soul while it woos our nature.

The only thing that can keep a vexed soul going is the chance that light might shine in the darkness, beauty might spring up, truth might woo stronger than the lies we've been sold. We might even become more convinced, ourselves.

All our efforts in Jesus' name might just open our own hearts to live more closely with ourselves and see our own need.

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(for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)-- 2 Peter 2:8

I have problems with the Old-Testament-Lot being deemed righteous here in the New Testament. I have issues with a man who offers his virgins daughters to the carnal cravings of depraved men and I want to assume that he got what he deserved, because he chose the best land for himself. It was like the garden of the LORD (Genesis 13:10), but it was a corrupted land.

The lost and broken did come to his door.

But Peter says he was a righteous man, his soul was tormented day to day. And I know there must be a whole backstory to his life that I've missed in the few paragraphs the Bible gives him—just like I miss most of the story of each person I meet.

Everyone is an eternity behind and before, and stories take time to unfold. When we slow down to hear the stories, we remember our own.

"Remembering is your protection against returning," my pastor says. Live closely enough with yourself that you remember: such were some of you. 

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

{Titus 2:11-14 NKJV}