I’m down in Fresno for a couple of days, spending time with family. FRESNO. The local news highlight is the trial of a man who killed all his children. The temperature is in the mid-90’s. You can see the air, but not the mountains. And yet for all that, it’s still where the roots. I drive by my high-school and remember the buses meeting in the parking lot that took us to San Francisco for parades when I played in a bagpipe band, and to Los Angeles so that our band could catch a flight to Europe, where we toured for 21 days between my sophomore and junior years.
Returning home always reveals paradox, the more so as I grow older. When I’m here I’m aware that I’m a different person than who I once was. But I’m equally aware of how much I’m still the same person as always. The paradox reveals to me what I believe to be two different dangers with respect to transformation, because coming home serves to highlight both the transformations that have occured in my life, and my ongoing need for transformation.
How do we deal with our need to change? Denial is one pathway. Pretend that no transformation is needed because everything was fine all along. Activities and addictions become the make-up which covers the festering emotional sores that need healing. This is a popular path.
On the other hand, it’s equally tempting to make transformation the goal. While this might seem healthy at first glance, I sometimes wonder if a fixation on transformation doesn’t have its own liabilities. Are there things to be faced and issues to be overcome? Yes. But Christ invites people, not to transformation per se, but to relationship. His promise is that it is out of the context of relationship with Him that substantial transformation and healing can occur.
A culture obsessed with entertainment tends to numb the heart of ever seeing the need for healing. A culture obsessed with therapy tends to so fixate on its need for healing that it loses sight of the healing that comes from living, and work, and especially from Christ. Our culture has both obsessions at the same time! Double jeopardy, as they say. In my own story, at least, I've found that turning to Christ is foundation out from which healing will come. But of course, this path too, is fraught with trouble, because 'God words' have done more harm than good in many lives. The words that Paul said are true.
Tomorrow, on a different note: BATMAN