40 Years in the Wilderness

Since I last wrote I have passed forty years on this old earth, and I find myself looking more and more past all that shimmers and shines, hoping to go to the city with a foundation.

I feel useless in my existence right now. I spoke to the church a couple of weeks ago and felt the Lord use me, and I have prayed that I might be used all the time. But often at home I am bored, reading, sitting by myself. I don’t often feel like praying or even talking to anyone. I watch television and eat sugar and sometimes look at things I shouldn’t, and maybe I even drink too much. I am bored. I look backwards and wish I had gotten my degree, hadn’t gotten in debt, had been smarter and nicer. I see a lot of missed opportunities. So much so that I pray for new opportunities.

Last week I was running on Holden Beach in the morning — before the sun had come up. I prayed for everyone in the church by name as I was running. Then I prayed for this area. It’s a beach area, a place where people come for rest. I asked the Lord to make His name known in this area, to make His rest known to the people of God.

The truth is, I’m lazy. I read thus this morning in GK Chesterton’s “Orthodoxy:”

It is customary to complain of the bustle and strenuousness of our epoch. But in truth the chief mark of our epoch is a profound laziness and fatigue; and the fact is that the real laziness is the cause of the apparent bustle. Take one quite external case; the streets are noisy with taxicabs and motorcars; but this is not due to human activity but to human repose. There would be less bustle if there were more activity, if people were simply walking about. Our world would be more silent if it were more strenuous. And this which is true of the apparent physical bustle is true also of the apparent bustle of the intellect. Most of the machinery of modern language is labour-saving machinery; and it saves mental labour very much more than it ought. Scientific phrases are used like scientific wheels and piston-rods to make swifter and smoother yet the path of the comfortable. Long words go rattling by us like long railway trains. We know they are carrying thousands who are too tired or too indolent to walk and think for themselves. It is a good exercise to try for once in a way to express any opinion one holds in words of one syllable. If you say “The social utility of the indeterminate sentence is recognized by all criminologists as a part of our sociological evolution towards a more humane and scientific view of punishment,” you can go on talking like that for hours with hardly a movement of the gray matter inside your skull. But if you begin “I wish Jones to go to gaol and Brown to say when Jones shall come out,” you will discover, with a thrill of horror, that you are obliged to think. The long words are not the hard words, it is the short words that are hard. There is much more metaphysical subtlety in the word “damn” than in the word “degeneration.”

Of course it’s true. I haven’t finished college or gotten a different job because I am discomforted even by the act of looking for the next step. I have been content to sit and wait for God to throw the thing in my lap.

I just don’t think He’s going to. I have to start praying for the power, dunamis. The momentum to be. I need out of this apathy. I am apathetic toward nearly everything: sex, money, people’s opinions, music, and God. Yes, even God. Everything is an effort. To think of God is an effort. To think of others, even my wife and family.



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