My good friend Dave had a job that he did “for a season” (see my recent tweets about Christian buzzphrases) where he worked for two straight weeks out of town. The job required him to work all day every day for those two weeks, so that when he woke up he immediately had to be in “work mode” all the way until he shut his eyes for sleep. And even then he had to be ready in case something came up that he had to attend do, which was just about every night.
The job conditions required this type of schedule, and so after those two weeks he came back into town and had two weeks off. No obligations, just free time. (I’m omitting what type of job it was for the sake of anonymity and protecting that line of work).
He had immense responsibility when he was at work. I cannot overstate this. To say the least it was a stressful job, and I’d agree with his assessment that the pay didn’t quite match what they were asking. He held lives in his hand, it was a big deal.
When he and his co-workers, with whom he worked each set of two weeks with in extreme conditions, returned to town they often lived, well, quite irresponsibly. All the usuals of drinking and smoking and gambling and promiscuity and irrational choices and living on the edge. They could be a pretty rowdy bunch. It was quite the contrast to the huge responsibility he had at his job, that by all accounts, he took very seriously and exceeded at.
I do believe it was this huge responsibility that he carried in extreme proportions that led him to its very opposite of recklessness.
I was raised (maybe indoctrinated) in a church environment that was heavy on judgment. You don’t need to me list examples of hellfire and brimstone preaching, you’ve probably up to your ears in it as well. I don’t think the church realized how heavy they were on it since they were trying to push you towards God’s grace, but ultimately in doing so they emphasized God’s wrath and judgment in a wacky proportion.
When you grow up with that, it’s a little suffocating. It gets old. (Hence the reason this blog exists, maybe?)
These days I’ll talk all day about God’s grace. For me, it’s his defining characteristic. God is Love. He doesn’t simply love, he is Love. Can’t be separated. No doubt my exploration of this is a reaction to the jugs of judgment poured down my throat for the majority of my life.
For me, I was on a pendulum, to borrow a TIRED metaphor, that swung way to the right. And after being on the right for soo long I used the momentum to go the other direction, where I found infinitely green grass and new life.
As a commenter has pointed out, I’m probably just as stuck there in grace as I previously was in judgment. It may do me some good to dislodge, and know that my swing will not take me as far to the right as I was before, and that the swing after that will not go as far to the left as I am right now. And in fact each swing will get me closer to balance (I’m avoiding saying the middle).
The point of this post is to pose the question to you: What is the balance here? How does a seemingly contrasting aspect, God’s wrath/judgment, work in tandem with God’s grace and love? Help me out, and I’m not requesting that in a condescending way, but out of genuine desire. Because I know I need to swing again, somehow. And it’s quite scary, because my childhood was, spent immersed in that wrath.