Wingback Chair and Further

by Fred Pruitt

(Written in early 2000, describing an event that took place in 1981. I thought of this when someone wrote me currently experiencing much the same thing I describe below. Below this is a further word to that person.)

it was a responsibility vs. resources issue, i finally had seen one day, i.e. responsibility for my own life, vs. the resources to accomplish or live up to them …. having been through a religious meat-grinder from 73-80 which was as demanding & stressful & mind-wrenching (and at the same time inspiring & glorious & uplifting) & after having left that group & no more feeling the religious “steam” i’d felt those 7 years still coursing in me, afraid i might be adrift & castaway from god, twirling & raging in a cycloned-sea-surface of self-accusatory thoughts & self-doubts about my very being being swallowed with the terror of hell in the most real sense, quaking with fear, wondering which spiritual port to put my boat in, pacing back & forth alone on my living room floor, in the monopoly-hotel glenwood apt …. in the afternoon ….

i collapsed face-first with my knees on the floor into the green wingback chair …. i said, “i can’t do this, GOD, you’ve got to do it” …. this was no pre-written prayer on a card or in a prayerbook …. by god, i meant it, “either,” i said to god, “YOU do it (& by that i meant accomplish the essence of the christ-life in me) or it won’t be done, I CAN’T DO IT!!!!!” …. it was essentially, “F___ YOU,” to God, if the best he could offer me was ME, struggling & straining to live the christian life, life of the spirit, i’m not talking about not smokin nor chewin’ nor goin’ with the girls that do, but the truth of the spirit of god lived through my life …. it was easy to not drink or much else “fun” for 7 years (though we made up for lost time on both counts) but it was lots harder & much beyond my reach to truly “love” & “be christ” to somebody …. so it was a really sincere totally collapsed fall into the seat of that wingback chair that afternoon …. i meant it, i was DONE …. if you can’t pick it up, lord, i guess i’m going to hell, over & OUT!!!!! ….

can’t deny remembering it, so in the words of the hymn & with tremendous triteness but nevertheless “heaven came down & glory filled my soul” …. something happened …. snapped …. turned off & on ….

okay, let me quote it right, got the book opened right to galatians 2:20 —

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I,
but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in
the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved
me, and gave himself for me.

i guess the short version is that i “saw” that …. “i” was “dead,” “crucified with Christ,” & the new person rising in that resurrection was no longer “i” but “Christ living in me” …. & the “new life,” unknown to me though i’d been an ARDENT & FERVENT christian & “pray-er” & bible studier for 7 previous years, was the GRACE that you accepted by faith in his death & resurrection not just “out there,” but in your inner being & that the new life emerging from that was not a fervent life of striving spiritually, always seeking to attain what you can never grasp, but rather the flow of the Spirit, the shifting of faith from self to Christ as the responsible party …. (that brings up a whole other host of theological questions but i wasn’t seeing that quite then, because it was like a burning bush kind of thing, crowding out all sorts of other more practical thoughts for the moment) ….

i’ll say this, it settled my “religious questions” for some time to come & took me all over in the pursuit of telling this wonderful news to anybody interested …. “HEY GUYS, GOD’S ON THE JOB, RELAX!!!!!!” ….

……………………………………………..

Current:

It’s a scary place, but the Lord will bring you through. It is not your job to bring yourself through, because that is impossible. Man cannot reach God, no matter what he does. God alone reaches us, and He is the author and finisher of our faith. That means He stirs it up in you in the first place, to find Him and know Him. He originates it in us. We are His “project.”

But He does not just “originate,” and then leaves hands-off, relying on you to figure out the rest of the metamorphosis from darkness to Light. He does the exact opposite, in that every day He is leading you and guiding you, even though you are not aware of it. You are His and your steps are of Him — even if you have strayed away or done something that makes you think He could not accept you anymore — those are just thoughts in our head, because He does not leave us nor forsake us, though sometimes it certainly feels like it.

The scariest and darkest place, however, is where you are now, and it might be hard at this point to see that there could even be any light. And that is the place of crossover for everyone of us, from the attempts to live correctly, think correctly, talk correctly but failing here and there on all counts, always in a struggle between what I perceive to be my “flesh,” and what I believe God wants, this is the place, where you are now, of the crossover to the eternal and full-blown liberty Paul expresses in Romans 8:2 — “For the law of the Spirit of Life in the Lord Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death.” If you could but once see this for even a moment, you could relax into the “rest” of God, where His yoke is easy and His burden is light, because you realize that Galatians 2:20 is truth for you, and you accept it to be so, by the faith that God gives to expression in you.

Finally, we cannot forget that He is the Finisher of our faith. Would God start a “project” and not build and finish it perfectly? He started the ball rolling, and He is making sure it gets all the way to the goal!

You may not be able to see this yet for yourself, but you will, and what I believe you will see, is that you can relax as safe and warm and loved in the Father’s arms, now.

God is love.
fred

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