Friday, January 21, 2011

The Upswing...

(photo from
I'm not a physicist, let me just go on record as saying that. In fact, if it hadn't been for the constant sailboat examples by my physics professor in college, I probaby wouldn't have even passed. For some reason those images stuck with me long enough to take the exams. Like most everything else, I know enough about physics to engage in conversation for a minute or two, and that's about it. One thing I remember a little about, though, is the pendulum. It's a great invention, and we've used it over the centuries for everything from determining the direction of an earthquake's epicenter to taking a human pulse.

This morning, as I was reading the Life Journal texts, I ran across Psalm 88. It's one of the ones that wasn't written by David...we think. But within it are found some very powerful words and images. Here are a few:

"I am overwhelmed with troubles and my life draws near to death."
"I am counted among those who go down to the pit."
"I am like one without strength."

...and then there's this one...

"You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths."

Wow. Now, let me ask this: Have you ever felt that way? Sure you have. We all have. Everyone of us, at some point in our life, has felt as if we absolutely could not sink any lower. Sometimes it's the bills. Sometimes it's our health. Sometimes it's our relationships, employment, loneliness, depression, our could be anything. We have all, at some point, felt as if our pendulum was stuck at the bottom... sitting there in mid-swing... hovering over some unseen gravitational force... unable to swing back up to one side or the other.

Sometimes, we even feel as it is God who has put us there. Am I right?

This morning, I ran across a video clip from a guy named Francis Chan. Francis helped me see how I, as a pastor, can help folks begin to see that their pendulum does not have to sit at the bottom of the swing. In a rhetorical question, he said something like this, "Well, why don't I experience the Holy Spirit?" The answer he gave was, "Well, because you're not suffering. He's called the Comforter, and why do you need the Comforter if you're comfortable?"

I'm still chewing on that one. I think I can agree with him, though. But at the same time, I'm not sure that's a complete answer, and here's why. A pendulum wasn't designed to sit at the bottom. Oh, sure, that is its natural position when at rest, but it wasn't designed to remain at rest. Neither were we. We were not created to remain uncomforted in life. I think I can say that we were not created to remain miserable. Er go... the presence of the Comforter.

I have spent more than my fair share of time at the bottom of the swing, just like most of you have. I have felt as if God had totally rejected me, just like many of you have. I have felt as if there was nowhere else to turn and that life had lost all sense of purpose and meaning, just like some of you have. What I have learned is that when we are at our most uncomfortable, our lowest, the Spirit's presence is the strongest. When we are sitting at the bottom, we are in the perfect position to begin another upswing.

If that is where you are, my prayers are with you. I am easy to contact if you need to talk, and I will tell you that life does not end at the bottom of the swing, it's just getting ready to begin.


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