Paradox is Normal

Paradox is part of the nature of theology.  Not theology as a study of God, although that is included.  Rather theology as the definition of the nature of reality.  Paradox is an element that we cannot understand.  We cannot reconcile it with our logic.  Yet, it is as much a part of reality as grass and trees and love and sadness.  There is one God, yet there are three.  It’s a paradox that we can’t understand.  Our only options are to deny this reality because we can’t reconcile it or accept it, not by logic, but by faith.

Consider eternity.  When God redeems the world in judgment, it is commonly believed that time will cease to exist and eternity will begin (if it can be said to have a beginning).  The redeemed will live with God for all eternity… in timelessness.  Yet, Scripture tells us of the streets of heaven.  It speaks of our reuniting with loved ones and conversations with the Lord.  How can these things occur in a “world” without time?  Will it not take time to walk down heaven’s streets?  Will time not pass as we converse with the Lord?  Time must pass if we are to experience these and other things in heaven.  There can be no “experience” without time as its context.

The fact that we “experience” anything at all is not a concept that conveys a fixed timeless point.  Rather, it conveys a linear and temporal backdrop for the events that take place that allow us to have the experience.  Yet time will not exist in heaven.  This is a paradox.  If the primal purpose of God’s plan is the eternal redemption of humanity so that He and we could spend eternity together, then paradox must be a core element of theological reality.  What other paradoxes are there in God’s reality?  That Jesus could be both fully God and fully man at the same time?  That our works save us, but we are saved by faith alone?  That we are told to have faith, but that faith is a gift from God that we could never conjure by our own will?  The arrival of the Kingdom has not come to pass, yet it is already here?

God’s reality is full of paradox.  This is one reason it is called a “mystery” and why it confounds those who are not humble enough to dismiss their logic.  For we have only two options: deny this reality because we can’t comprehend it or accept it in faith even in the midst of incomprehension.  Such a faith itself is a paradox for how can one believe in something he cannot understand?  Yet faith we have because it is a gift of God.  And we cannot claim any credit for it.  Look for and enjoy the paradox.  Revel in the mystery of God.

Advertisements

Waiting in the Waiting Room

So here I am in the emergency waiting room at Edmond Regional Hospital. I’m experiencing a strange neck pain that came on suddenly three days ago.  The pain started as a soreness on the left side of my neck and has since spread down my left side of my neck, into my ear and my entire head (primarily my left side) is throbbing. I’m a bit dizzy. This is a strange pain. I’ve never experienced it before. So I’m waiting on a CT scan most likely to check the condition of my carotid artery.

In all this, I feel like writing. While in this waiting room, I’m looking at people in pain, people distracted, tired people. One woman is crying and holding her side. Another is laughing and talking far too loudly. People are standing, walking, pacing …all uncertain.
And the thing I keep thinking about is the new body that God will give me. I see the frailty and feel trapped and enslaved to my body. Some people identify themselves with their body. I never have. I’ve always viewed myself inhabiting this shell. Its the reason why I don’t take care of my health – because “my health” is not really mine. It belongs to this body that I just happen to be in.

Honestly, I’m OK with death. I don’t fear it at all. I know that the moments before it happens may include pain and disorientation, but I also know that it will be temporary. The only thing I fear about death is what my absence will do to my family.

This is the real fear and it is a near constant presense for me. It is always lurking in the dark corners of my mind. I have no doubts in the miraculous faithfulness of God to provide, but there are also the practical realities of that they would face. The ever-present nature of this fear is due to the continual war that I wage between what I know I should do and what I actually do.

That needs some explanation. Since I consider myself to be something other than my body, I don’t take care of my body. I know I should because I realize that my temporal experience here with my family exists within the physical world. As long as I exist within space-time, I can have no other experience of my family than that which is grounded in the physical.

Yet, for some reason this intellectual acknowledgment does not provide sufficient motivation for behavoral change. So here I am at the hospital most likely the result of my not taking care well enough. Truth and consequences.

When sin entered the world, so did disease and sickness, injury and pain. Such is the broken world we live in. Yet, even waiting here, in my own pain, writing about my own shortcomings and failings, I see the restoration that is coming. Eden will return. Once again we will be clothed in light and not know our nakedness. And one day, my loved-ones and I will walk with our Father in the cool of the day.

Come quickly Lord Jesus and take us home.

UPDATE: Turns out the neck pain was caused by muscle spasms.  Muscles may not be able to think for themselves, but they can make you think.