Raylen Givens is a fictional U.S. Marshal who has been relegated to serving in rural Kentucky because he shot a Miami criminal under suspicious circumstances. The drama is appropriately called “Justified” because this is what Raylen says about the shooting.
I’m only three episodes into this series, but it seems that what the lawman thinks is a punishment may actually could turn out to be a blessing for him. It’s clear from the get go that Raylen does not want to be in Kentucky. He grew up there and he doesn’t like it.
But now he is beginning to fall for a woman. They’ll get you every time.
I’ve used a lot of blog space to discuss a young woman who I have been crazy about here in my own “Kentucky”. Yet, she now has a boyfriend and I am still here, with a dead and gone marriage with someone who is elsewhere.
The only reason I keep going in this place is that I need a job. I have responsibilities and bills to pay.
Yet, like Raylen, it seems that God may be giving me a second chance in the midst of what appears on the surface to be an unjust deal. It’s just that my “do-over” doesn’t involve a woman, at least for now.
I’ve been given the opportunity to re-educate myself and do what I wanted to do when I was a young man. Instead I took jobs to keep me in Christian ministry.
If I can just jump through some administrative hoops (or better, if the administrators are willing to dance to MY tune), the possibility is right in front of me.
The one thing that concerns me is the time involved in going to school. I’m just wondering if at my age I have the energy to do what is necessary to succeed.
I know from experience that school requires commitment and motivation. In fact, two days ago I convinced a program head at my school to let me into his courses because he believed that I was dedicated.
Not only am I worried about my own abilities, but there is also some risk. I could end up losing financially as well. Failure is not really an option.
I also ask myself,”Why stick my neck out?” In my current malaise, detailed fairly well in this blog, I may not be that happy, but at least I am comfortable. But it is a wasteful kind of comfort. I work, watch TV eat, sometimes exercise and sleep. That’s about it.
My experience as it stands now is a bridge to nowhere. My former Christian life and a relationship with God seem like a distant memory. Perhaps this is a good thing because it certainly didn’t work for me.
In reality, I have come to the conclusion that I really do not know who God is. This week, however, it has come to me that this circumstance is normal. You see, there is this thing called The Fall in which mankind and creation were consigned to futility until God redeems it for good.
I do believe He is in the process of doing this, and especially believe in His Son’s work on the Cross and resurrection. But the practicalities of the sin of Adam and the work of Satan on my life have been on the back burner in my thinking.
Oh, I believe Satan is alive and well on Planet Earth. But I don’t sit around thinking of the effects of that on my personal life too often-not deeply anyway.
Sometimes God uses circumstances to wake us up to the truth. He did it with a Christian hater named Saul back in Roman times.
As the Life Recovery Bible notes, Saul was decisive and took immediate action as a Pharisee pursuing Christians. He was zealous, but for the wrong things. However, Jesus confronted Saul as he was traveling to Damascus and blinded him physically. Even though he was humbled in this way, Saul gained keen spiritual understanding from the experience.
Turning from persecuting Christians, Saul proclaimed the gospel throughout southern Europe. He endured physical and emotional hardship to do this. He was able to persevere through the grace and power of God. In addition, his second chance even involved a new name-Paul.
I wouldn’t exactly call my last week a Road to Damascus experience. But there have been some developments that make me think that God is at work and chasing me and has not given up on me.
In addition to the educational opportunity, a perfect new living situation will open up to me soon. It just kind of fell into my lap. I may not be able to eat much to pay for it, but I need to lose a couple score pounds anyway.
Thus, even though I think modern Christianity has failed me and that I have been sold a bill of goods by the Church, it seems God hasn’t died. But I can’t blame the Church for what has happened to me
The people that run it are in the same boat as me. I don’t think many of its leaders really know God. Oh, they think they do, but they don’t.
Paul talked of how God’s purpose was for the nations to “seek after Him and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him.” (Acts 17:23, 27-28). This isn’t exactly a Scripture that tells me that knowing God is an easy task. I Corinthians 13 also discusses the idea that we are looking at the truth through a dim mirror.
Like those in Christian leadership, I have also tried to serve God, at least the One I understand. Neither I nor these leaders seem to have gotten much in the way of comprehension.
But as the The Life Recovery Bible indicates, it is crucial that we have an accurate understanding of God so as to serve the God who loves us and not Satan, who desires to crush and destroy us. This is what is missing for most of us in my view. The problem is the blindness and dim mirror caused by The Fall.
Before Damascus, Saul had a limited understanding of God. So did one of the other great early Church leaders, Apollos, that is until he met Priscilla and Aquila. These two really DID know God (as best as one can) and instructed Apollos in the way more perfect.
Both Saul and Apollos shared one trait: they were both teachable and humble to new instruction about God. The Lord gave them that teaching in different ways and they were available to be used by Him as a result.
As I see it, the best I can hope for in this life concerning knowing God is to study the Bible, pray and be open to what God tells me, and hope to feel my way toward Him in this dark world. The rest is up to God.
It’s really all about Him. One of the lessons to be learned from Paul’s life is that zeal and energy do not impress God (Life Recovery Bible.)
But I will still need these characteristics as I go back to school. The work needs to be done. I know from experience that succeeding in school is impossible without them.
Because of God’s goodness to me this week, and what I see as a second chance, I am motivated again to tell people about Him. Perhaps God DOES love me. This knowledge I expect will be the true source of the zeal I will use to get me through the hardships ahead.
The opportunity He has given me is one that will allow me to use my strengths and abilities in an area I love in order to share about Jesus Christ, and perhaps help others. Telling people about Jesus is what I have really wanted to do my whole life. The fact that I even can write this paragraph after all of my life issues tells me that God still cares for me.