Saturday, May 3, 2008

I lose. We win.

Arise, O Lord, let not man triumph; let the nations be judged in your presence.
Psalm 9:19

I was listening to my mp3 Bible (read by Max McLean, about whose voice the jury is still out) on my way to Starbuck's today. I went to Starbuck's. Get over it. Have you ever tried Izze fruit beverages? They have them there. Anyway...

I was cruising up to the parking lot - cars on I-69 whizzing inches from me - and right before I turned off the engine, I heard the above verse. The following interpretation is taken somewhat out of context, but since I am no longer a Bible student, and a Higher Ed. student instead, I will proceed as I please.

Fun fact: Psalms 9 & 10 quite possibly were originally written as an acrostic poem, each stanza beginning with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet (which I know, kind of). Thanks ESV footnotes!

Digression over. The words "let not man triumph" bounced around numerous times in my brain as I made my way into the store. It's a prayer that I need to pray now, because I know that when I really need to pray it, I probably won't.

And when I say pray it, I mean for myself. In all my grappling with God - whether it be the sinful nature that continues to be at work in me, the submission of my desires and ambitions to His will, or simply my unrelenting unwillingness to accept things that are true about myself, about the cosmos, and about God - I need to pray in advance that I will lose.

If that sounds counterintuitive, it's because it is.

counterintuitive |ˌkountərinˈt(y)oōitiv|adjective
contrary to intuition or to common-sense expectation (but often nevertheless true).

Sometimes I like to pretend that I'm not competitive, or that I think sports are dumb. These are most often times when I find myself completely outmatched by those competing around me. In reality, I really want to win. I'm usually good at keeping my wits about me on the court or the field, but that doesn't mean that winning isn't important to me. I was reminded of this fact on Thursday evening, as I stomped off the field where my ultimate team had just been stomped in much the same fashion. In moments like that, there's nothing to be done that will assuage the anger/frustration/humiliation of losing. And then, as if it weren't bad enough, we had to hold hands in a circle and pray. Awful.

Really, inside of me lives a noxious rebel that wants only for himself to prevail, for his name to be praised by others, for his desires to be met, for his purposes to be achieved. It is an ugly thing, but it is necessary, as I have said, to pray for my own defeat now, when I feel a bit more aware of this rebellious fellow. He needs to lose, or else I will big time, ultimately.

I suppose that this brings a bit of clarity to the notion of gaining one's life by losing it: victory through defeat. I need God to win so that I will lose, so that, with Him, I will win; or rather, we will win. Really it's simple, and as usual, that's the problem. Those truths which appear to be - and essentially are - the most simple are those with which I most often struggle.

But God is just. He will ultimately not allow me to win when I do not deserve it, nor will He allow injustice to prevail. In the end, His righteousness (a.k.a. justice) will rain down:
Sow for yourselves righteousness,
reap the fruit of unfailing love,
and break up your unplowed ground;
for it is time to seek the Lord,
until he comes
and showers righteousness on you.
Hosea 10:12
Cool. I want to break up my unplowed ground now and ready myself for that shower, because I know that when it comes, I'll probably want to run inside out of the rain - when in reality, the shower is exactly what I need. Hosea speaks of preparation, making straight the way of the Lord (cf. John the Baptist, Mt. 3:3).

It's also neat to think about how the Lord's justice will bring about a righting of all the wrongs of injustice in the world today. This week was Social Justice Week at Taylor. I'm so relevant.

By the way, isn't that picture awesome?


annie.marie.dimond. said...

Ben Taylor, Love that. Paradox is powerful.

Steve Conn said...

Ben, your words ring true. I appreciate your "link love" and I'm glad you've commented on my blog, it makes me look legit. You are probably the only person who's read the whole thing.

Bret Burchard said...

Simple doesn't mean easy. But simple is essential. We always seem to make things too complex.