The Tired Old Pendulum, Or Asking For a Push

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.

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5 Responses to The Tired Old Pendulum, Or Asking For a Push

  1. David says:

    Interesting – the only way to stop swinging, wherever that ends up, is to hear the voice of God for your self. Any teaching that you try to apply to your life under your own power, be it grace or wrath, or anywhere in between, is just more religion. The key to stopping swinging is part contained here. (James 1:1-6 )

    Christians always say “the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) My question is which truth or how much truth or what specific verse is the key? In context Jesus was speaking of following his teachings and NOT sinning.

    One of my first sermons was entitled, Not Sin, Not God. (Yes, it’s on There are things that are specifically sin like witchcraft, fornication, drunkenness etc, and those things that are NOT mentioned in the Bible as sin, IE: TV, golf, Harry Potter, Disney, Pilates and yoga. Paul said as long as it doesn’t cause you or your brother to sin, have a Merry Little Christmas (1 Corinthians 8:13) – except that Jesus drew the trump card. He said, “I do what I see the Father doing” (John 5:19).

    James said that we should ask for wisdom, not manufacture it. If we don’t hear God, how will we know what to do in every circumstance? Take spanking for instance. The Bible certainly does not forbid it. The question becomes under what circumstances is it OK? How could we ever think of using it properly if we never hear God?

    In the end, I don’t think it’s about grace vs. judgment. It is about hearing God’s voice and doing it. If we don’t hear God, we are just clanging gongs. After all God is love (1 John 4:8), and if we don’t obey Love, we can’t be loving.

  2. I do think it is only natural to swing, humans seem to live in the extremes (or maybe I’m skewed because I work with addictions and therefore people who live in the extremes).

    Unfortunately I don’t think God speaks in every situation (or even close to every situation) and we have to use some sort of discernment as to what the appropriate path is.

    • David says:

      You may be right about addictions and extremes. One who is comfortable with God – enjoys the peace of God which passes all understanding – has a lot less ups and downs. It’s like watching an experienced parent, they handle a melt down as easily as nap time.

      When it comes to God speaking, here is where we differ. There is an amazing thing that happens when a Christian becomes spirit-filled.

      Acts 19:1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
      They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
      3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”
      “John’s baptism,” they replied.

      4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.

      Acts 10:44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.

      What is important is this, for someone to prophesy or speak in tongues, one must hear God. Whatever takes place in the believer when this happens, it increases the ability for one to hear God. At our church we have a group of folks that hear God. We test what they say and see if it bears fruit. It’s amazing.

      If you read Acts, you’ll see that the apostles did many great things – they had to hear God. In the account of Cornelius, Peter tells him that he is a mere man – just like Charlie and David – and God visits him.

      The closer we are to God, the more we will hear his voice. Like when you were dating your wife – you just wanted to be with her. When a Christian gets baptized in the Holy Spirit, it is like a honeymoon! (I wrote about intimacy this week.)

      Don’t be trapped by your beliefs, Charlie. The Bible says that the sheep (you) know his voice. And because of His love for you, he wants to speak to you – a lot. Even discernment is hearing God.

  3. we definitely have very different spiritual experiences, I’d be interested to check out “your way,” (I think you get what I mean by that). How I was raised in Christianity is very different, and as you can tell, I have no issue seeing the flaws.

    • David says:

      I do – wish I lived closer and we’d grab a coffee and go looking for Jesus – one of my favorite things to do.

      The next time you go looking, remember this:

      2 Timothy 3:1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

      If there is no power, move on!

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