Reflections from 25,550 Days on the Planet

 

This week, I’ll be blowing-past one of life’s mile markers our human experience – our together life – characterizes as significant. Thursday is my 70th birthday. Last year, my 69th happened while I was in isolation at the City of Hope, just weeks following my life-saving stem cell transplant (shout-out to my donor, granddaughter Avery!). Transplant gave us hope, medically; God gave us the Hope that took us the distance, eternally. When you come up on the 70-year point, you’re assumed to know something that you didn’t know earlier. Do I?

One of my spiritual gifts – observed by a senior friend/colleague when I was just 23 – is teaching. One “tell” for the teaching gift: you tend to be more analytical than others who are on the same path. Lingering and learning, for the teacher, is almost a recreational pursuit. For them, journals of discoveries are more valuable than photo albums of adventures. The insights they gather become the substance of their musings when given the opportunity to share. They aren’t trying to monopolize the conversation so much as benefit their peers with the discoveries that are made through discernment.

What do I know now – now that I’m old – that I didn’t know then – when I was young? Do I have anything to pass along that might allow generations behind me to gain awareness that might otherwise require their costly time and experience?

Those learnings become a library (some of which are embedded in the curriculum that is at the core of The Master’s Program). They are diverse and eclectic, but – together – they form the fabric of a life lived in faith. Let me pull a biggie out of the bucket and share it with you, friend-to-friend.

Our “modern world” has become vicious. Differences are no longer debated; before ideas can even be examined, character assassination is routinely practiced. In logic, it’s called ad hominem: when you don’t think your argument will hold up in reasonable terms, you seek to destroy the credibility of the other side so that your underlying logical fallacies never come to light.

Today, labels are attached to people – who are considered to be representatives of disfavored groups – that are intended to negate their credibility. Deem someone a racist; chauvinist; fundamentalist: there isn’t enough space to name all of the dismissive characterizations that are meant to silence others.

Here’s the reality: shame is the strategy. It has been a constant certainty in the attacks by the Evil One against people whom God loves and Satan despises.

An understanding is critical: the distinction between shame and guilt is foundational. Shame involves who I am; it’s an attack on my identity. Guilt involves what I do: it’s a conviction regarding my behavior.

My early life was steeped in shame. My family of origin, my upbringing, my place in the socio-economic totem-pole of life around me caused me constant consternation and cover-up. Fig leaves have always been man’s response to identify crisis; they’ve never worked, but they’re the default reaction that is embedded in our DNA.

Here’s the breakthrough of the Gospel: from God’s vantage point, there are only two identities possible for humankind: lost, or saved. For lost people, shame is unresolvable, but influences every moment of life in a fallen world. For saved people, there is no longer an identity crisis: men and women who have been redeemed by the Lord Jesus are now sons and daughters of the Heavenly Father, who sees His adopted progeny as blameless, because of the imputed righteousness of Jesus (look it up!).

For followers of Jesus, we have no shame! Who we are is no longer our problem. We do, however, have the incidence of guilt to manage. God lays out the path to holiness for His children: when we walk in the Light, we are in-tune with Him and at peace. When we knowingly veer off-course, the Holy Spirit in us acts as the on-board monitor to call us back into conformance. He plays a number of vital roles within us; all have incredible importance and value, but among His vital assists it to convict us when our words and actions are off-course: conviction – guilt – is our fault, and His demonstration of power and love.

Shame: as Christ followers, it has no place in our life. It is always sourced in the Evil One, but often employed by others to “put us in our place.” Shame: go to Hell.

Guilt: as Christ followers, it is always constructive… but never pleasant. God, please make me sensitive to your Spirit’s cautions, and quickly responsive to Your correction.

“Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived:Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Don’t send me any cards or canes; I’m plowing through Thursday on my way to the next stop!

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10 thoughts on “Reflections from 25,550 Days on the Planet”

  1. Bob, Happy Birthday and welcome to my Antique Club!!! The older you get the more valuable you become. Thanks for your strategic investment in people who are all in quest of Truth and meaning and purpose for their lives. Your Master’s program provides substance for all who are honest seekers of what matters most. Infinite blessings!!! antiquefarmerbud

  2. Bob, Have a great Birthday. Thank you for your message this week. Great to hear your words.

  3. skip heitzig

    This was superb and insightful. Thank you, Bob, for your tenacity to teach through the most difficult times. You’re a treasure. Happy birthday!

  4. Happy birthday Bob! I am almost half your age but I have been thinking a lot about the importance of making the most of the time left here on this earth in preparation for eternity. I thank you for being an example to remind me of that.

    God Bless,

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