Thought experiment

Belief in God is for the weak, who are just looking for comfort and an escape from reality.

Some days, yeah.  Probably.  But also:

You beg God for strength often enough, and eventually you will see that you have none yourself.  None.  What you are without God is brittle and empty and cold, like dead coral.  You can’t even make your own heart beat.

You pray for the courage to forgive someone, and you soon notice that you yourself live next to the abyss.  You play next to it — you spend your life fooling around, threatening to throw yourself in, just to get attention — and the communion of saints is forever hauling you back, buckling your safety straps again, teaching you the same old rules of basic decency.

You’re called to love, stupidly, endlessly, outrageously.  You think on the perfections of God, and then you see that you have been pouring your heart into people and things whose whole nature is to let you down.  And after you realize this, your main responsibility is to love some more.

And you’re called to be loved.  He loves you when you don’t want to be loved, and then He leaves you when you don’t want to be left.  And when you don’t like it, that’s when you need to change.

The mercy of God comes like a flood.  Not a warm bath:  a flood.

You can go back and salvage some of your stuff, but you will not be living in that house again.

  • http://arlinghaus.typepad.com bearing

    Great post, great pic, great line.

  • http://stmonicasbridge.wordpress.com Kristen

    Thanks Simcha, this is awesome. Now, if some people would just “get it”

  • Emkay

    That was beautiful. I just got off the phone with my brother, and we got into a shouting match about who was doing more for the good of our family. My brother’s wife is divorcing him, so did I keep this in mind and therefore treat him with compassion? Of course not. I was a jerk. God, I am sorry; have mercy on me.

  • A Girl

    I love the prose of this, but I confess I don’t understand the content.

    Help me understand.

    The love of God as a flood… floods are destructive, overpowering, heartbreaking. Look at that photo along with the analogy, it’s just that. Is it meant to say that God’s love washes away whatever construct you identify as yourself? Or that you must rebuild yourself after your loss of self? Why does God want to do away with you with His love? Is it something like killing someone with kindness? I’m not trying to be flip. I truly am pretzeled by this.

    Living and playing by the abyss…. what’s the abyss? The word itself conjures up an endless back hole, a loss of self, and again, the notion of devastation. Lost to the abyss means being gone, irretrievable. Is it meant as a moral black hole? Or that you have an essential self that can be lost, replaced by a shell who just goes through life mechanically, without thought, reflection or love?

  • http://remnantofremnant.blogspot.com priest’s wife

    A Girl- remember that after the flood (however you want to think of it)- there’s the rainbow- God’s promise….

  • Denise

    *Belief in God is for the weak, who are just looking for comfort and an escape from reality.*

    At this point in my life, this just makes me laugh. Mainly because of this:

    *You’re called to love, stupidly, endlessly, outrageously.*

    And then called to live your life in service to everyone else, God’s hands and feet, etc. on the earth. I.e., give give give.

    And (at least if you are Catholic or of like theology) no “sure” or immediate seat in heaven’s amphitheater because we love to play by the abyss, to flirt with sin (“How close can I get?”) and too often slip over the edge.

    Easy? Hahaha! Per one of my favorite Chesterton quotes: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.”

  • Kate

    “Belief in God is for the weak.” Yes, and……?

    “looking for comfort” Yes, and…..?

    “escape from reality” Whose reality?

    So, aetheism is for the inhuman?

  • Maria

    I’m a long time lurker (I think I may have read every “pants” related comment. Pathetic, I know, but I like cheap entertainment.) I just had to tell you how stunningly true this post is to me.

  • http://www.zealforyourhouseconsumesme.com thereserita

    Sim,

    You really should enter this post in some kinda “Pulitzer Prize for Blogs” contest….hands down the best I’ve read in awhile.

    A Girl,

    I guess until you’ve been on the receiving end of the endless Mercy of God, you can’t ‘get it’. For example, I’ve had people (other Catholics, mind you, not atheists or whatever) tell me that, for me to believe in God’s Mercy after I aborted my daughter, was just too easy. Kind of like a “get out of jail free” card.

    Truth is, there’s nothing free about it. The price God paid to get me out of jail sure wasn’t free & the price I pay everyday to believe/receive his mercy isn’t free either. Its alot of work on both sides. Simcha’s right: After the Mercy, we won’t be living in our old house again, unless we refuse Mercy-due-to-our-Pride. This refusal of mercy is what is meant by the “unforgivable sin”. Every person’s need to learn to live under this “severe mercy” is a fact of life in the Kingdom that we all have to learn before we can live there.

    Oh and the abyss: Reminds me of Edith Stein telling God that she was “walking on the edge of a precipice” & would no doubt fall in if he didn’t continue to fortify her.

  • http://thewinedarksea.com/weblog.php MelanieB

    A Girl,

    Here’s my explication of Simcha’s beautiful analogy. I hoe it might help.

    Floods destroy, yes. But they also bring new life. Ancient Egypt depended on the yearly flooding of the Nile to deposit the silt in which they grew their crops. Without that flood, there could be no life.

    Sometimes before we can build a new house, one that is inhabitable, we must first clear out the wreckage of the old. I must ask myself: Is the house I am living in sound? Is it the mansion which God planned for me to inhabit? Or is it really a shack that I am huddled in afraid to leave, afraid of the exposure and pain of rebuilding?

    God’s love is like that: it might seem destructive but that is only because we are too attached to that which is inferior and we are afraid of change. God’s love doesn’t annihilate that which is made in his image, it washes away all the muck that has so effaced that image that it can no longer be discerned. It may indeed wash away that which I identify as myself; but I must ask myself whether that is my true self I am clinging to. Often we cling to false selves, images that harm us rather than raise us up. Think of the anorexic or the bulemic who believes she is fat: that self needs to be washed away so that she can see a true, healthy self in the mirror.

    But we don’t rebuild ourselves after that loss of self. God does the building. It’s a process of surrender. A recognition that anything I build will be an inferior structure. I’m no architect, I’m just a child playing with sticks and mud. No, if I want to live in a palace, I must allow the master architect to design me something much grander than that which I could even dream of for myself.

    God doesn’t want to destroy what we are. Rather, he’s the ultimate restorer. Think if Michelangelo had come back to restore the Sistine Chapel with his own hands. He’d be better than any of the artists and scientists who so painstakingly cleaned away all the soot and grime of centuries because he wouldn’t have to guess about the colors and techniques. He’d know because it was he who laid out the initial design, his hand that spread the plaster and brushed on the paint.

    The abyss. What is the abyss? If my true self is the image of God, then the abyss is the false self that turns its back on God. The abyss is self-reliance. And, yes, the abyss is thus loss of self — because the true self is not an island but a branch that will die if it is not grafted onto the trunk and thereby connected to the roots that give life. If I cling to true self-sufficiency, if I belive that I can be my own God and think I am stronger without him, I am mistaken. Without God, I am a branch that has no connection to the trunk. Instead, I must accept the help of a gardener who

    can tend my roots and keep them strong so that I can be a unique branch, the only one exactly like me on the whole flowering vine.

    Yes, there is an essential self which can be lost. Though the loss is not final, irretrievable. That’s why Christ came, to find those who were lost, to bring them back. And all of us are lost, all of us are walking along the abyss. All of us are in need of saving. But some of us are unable to see the danger.

  • Anima

    This is amazing. I can’t find another words.

    Simcha, thank you.

  • Ann

    I cannot begin to tell you how much “after you realize this, your main responsibility is to love some more” moves me. I hadn’t realised this, just found myself disappointed.

    To me, the flood that is God brings the sweeping realisation that I am so, so often just so much sin…the awesome love of God makes these things that seem so important to me fall into nothingness, while at the same time that flood brings growth, sweeps the ground clean for new life, offers redemption.


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