A glimpse of the divine, Part I

Originally posted on 5/11/2006 

“Ignorant fibbers in the congregation
Gather around spewing sympathy
Spare me
None of them can even hold a candle up to you
Blinded by choices hypocrites won’t seek “

So goes part of the song “10,000 Days”, from the new Tool album of the same name. For those of you who do not know, here’s a little background.

Maynard’s (Tool’s vocalist) mom suffered a stroke that paralyzed her for the final 27 years of her life. She passed in 2003, so the stroke occurred in 1976….When Maynard was 11. The number of days Maynard’s mother was paralyzed was most likely within 100 days of totaling exactly 10,000 (27 years and change). “10,000 days and the fire is long enough / You’re going home”. As far as I can tell, Maynard’s mother was a believer. Even in her paralyzed state, she kept her faith in God (the previous track “Wings For Marie, Part One”, and Perfect Circle’s “Judith” also back this notion).

The song “10,000 Days” references, in large part, if not totally, the final days of Judith Marie’s (Maynard’s mother) life. Among many lines in the song, the verse above stood out to me. Here’s why.

In the last two weeks, this is the 2nd time I’ve heard this notion of Christians, and Christianity in general. And it’s intriguing to me. It may require hearing or reading the lyrics to the entire song to fully see my interpretation, but you can easily do so with a Google search, if you choose. But here’s what stands out. It is obvious, that in her final days, as well as probably early on after her stroke (when Maynard was 11), she was visited by other believers. They probably said to her what we all say, when we hear of another person experiencing difficulty. They probably, albeit well-intentioned, offered prayers, and told her they would keep her close to their heart. Now obviously, this is assumption on my part, but I’m getting at something deeper here, so bare with me. What is he saying here? “Ignorant fibbers in the congregation/Gathering around spewing sympathies/Spare me”. What did he see that set in his mind that these people were doing something self-serving, and not something to serve in a tangible way? It seems to me, he saw something that is all too familiar in Christendom: insincerity. Now, you have to understand that I do not condone his position, but this is the branch of a much deeper-rooted problem in the Church today.

I have an acquaintance, who recently was let go from his pastoral position at his church. He was let go just days prior to Christmas. The congregates who stopped by to see him, his wife, and their kids, offered condolences and prayers, but little else. No one said, “Hey, on our way over, we brought you some groceries.”, or “Listen, we know you are going through a rough spot, so we paid your gas/electric bill”, or “we took up an offering at church, your mortgage is paid this month”. They stopped by, said, ‘we’ll keep you in our prayers’, and moved on. It has left that acquaintance jaded to say the least.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about tangible things, and it’s not about money. It’s about doing what we are called to do. Serve. When was the last time you offered something to someone unprompted? When was the last time you took the $5 in your pocket, and instead of going into Starbucks, gave it to someone in need of a meal? And better yet, when was the last time you actually took the time to LOOK at the people you see everyday, you see in the pews of your church, or in the cubicle next to you at work, and looked at them long enough to see the need in their eyes. People who are desperate, and people who are in need, do not hide it well. I can attest to that from personal experience. But the problem is that we get so busy in OUR schedules, OUR agendas, and OUR plans, that we totally ignore those around us, or even worse, we acknowledge them with the token “I’ll pray for you”. Let’s face it-75% of the time, we say that for one of two reasons: 1) we say a quick prayer, then forget about it, or 2) we offer a blanket acknowledgement, in the hopes of not having to commit more time to that issue that doesn’t concern us than is absolutely necessary. Ouch. But is it true? From what I’ve seen, by and large, yes. And that is unfortunate.

So what is our solution? Jesus talked about it in Matthew 25:31-46. Verse 40 says, “‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'”

It’s not rocket science. It just takes effort. The solution is this:

Eyes focused outward.

I was turned onto this by a good friend, Scott, who’s blog you can find on the sidebar here under “Special Forces Group”. He has a link on his site for http://www.eyesturnedoutward.com/. I’d strongly advise checking it out. Scott and I were talking about this recently, and it is a passion of his. It should be a passion of all of us. Eyes turned outward. Focusing on the needs of others, and not focused on the covenience of our own daily grind. The problem with inaction is that it fuels the accusations all around us. I want to disarm the accusations with action, rather than give fuel to the fire. If we could do that, we could make a bigger impact in these last days than we ever thought possible.

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