There is way way too much to recount in chapter 4 of the book but I want to highlight a couple phrases that stuck out to me personally because they are things I can relate to over and over again in my life. The title is Redefining Lostness and Keller talks about signs of elder brother lostness and younger brother lostness.
One of the signs of elder brother lostness according to Keller is a lack of assurance of the Father's love. He says that because we are unsure of God's love we try to live up to a moral code to earn our salvation. Problem is we're never sure we've arrived at being good enough for Him. So we simply aren't sure God loves us and delights in us.
Though I might not always come right out and tell you this is where I'm at or how I feel it's often my reality. Many times I may not even see this lack of assurance in my Christian life but if I look below the surface behind all my symptoms I see this is the root. Some of the symptoms he mentions are a lack of wonder, awe, intimacy or delight in one's conversations with God. I'd say since the summer of '05 this has for a majority of the time been very true of me. Most of my life prior to this time I'd say I already struggled with feeling emotionless in general. But I started to explore the roots of this in '05 and well the venture continues... Keller tells us to think of 3 kinds of people: a business associate we don't really like,a friend we enjoy doing things with and then someone we are in love with and who is in love with us. He talks about our communication style with each one. I'll skip to the one about the lover since this is one of the phrases standing out to me. He says that "with your lover you will sense a strong impulse to speak about what you find beautiful about him or her". Personally I find myself doing this sometimes with people in terms of God being the lover here. But too often I can look and see that this is really lacking in my relationship with God. Or often times I find myself telling students and others all about God's beauty, greatness, power, grace,love, etc. because I do believe it's there and He is all of these things and I want so badly for others to fully experience even if I don't myself. I hold out hope that perhaps they will experience it 100%.Problem is I want to know why it isn't this way for me. Why can't I feel it, be assured of it, fully embrace it?? It's not like I always am out there consciously choosing to seek out other Saviors or talk about my other beautiful lovers. But deep down or rather all over I feel very little and most times nothing. There's no emotion, no feeling, no nothing. That opens up a whole other area in my life. Too much for a blog. However, I am not content with this state of being. I refuse to accept that I will never fully get the Gospel and never fully be assured of God's love for me and His delight in me. Sometimes I think I'll never get it 100% myself but I've yet to give up the battle to do so. I believe and know that ultimately God is good and He does what he promises. Usually in his own timing or in his own ways though.
So the place I find myself at the moment is admitting the yes I'm not fully sure of God's love for me and that coupled with my feeling very little makes for a strange and confusing place to be for a Christian whose job is full time ministry. It'd be the same kind of place for any other Christian with any other occupation though I think. So the other night I was attempting to describe my current state of being with adjectives as I lay in bed. This is what I do most nights. Around 2,3 or 4 am when I finally crawl under the covers I begin to just think, ponder, wonder and then dialogue with God. Usually goes on for a while and well I find myself barely sleeping. Anyway, back to the other night... as I thought about a more thorough description for my current state of being I avoided the "dry" word because I wanted to honestly get at the root of what I was feeling or rather not feeling. I began to imagine this place that was pretty large but empty, a light but hazy shade of gray, with an abounding silence where I was all alone. It felt a little lonely at first but mostly it felt calm like it's ok to be in this place and not understand it, not really know how to go forward in it, or exit out of it. Just a place to kind of just be and think.
I would describe this place as where I currently find myself spiritually. I think I'm there just being and wrestling with God and the Gospel. And I don't think it's a bad thing just tough. To end this post here's a couple sentences from pg. 70 of the book that caught my eyes.
"If you've become a Christian out of being an elder brother, you can even more easily slide back into elder brother attitudes and spiritual deadness. If you have not grasped the Gospel fully and deeply, you will return to being condescending, anxious, insecure, joyless and angry all the time." (keller,70)
I logically know the Gospel and have accepted it but I believe mostly I don't deeply and fully grasp the Gospel in my heart and a large part of that comes out of my mistrust of God's heart, my lack of assurance of His love for me and my issues with feeling/emotion. So this is what I am wrestling with. Welcome to the journey.
come back later for more ramblings...