Thursday, February 4, 2010

On the Threshold

I love it when God commands the people of God to build an altar, so that they and the generations that follow will see it and remember what He did there.

I also mark events that matter to me, whether glorious or devastating. It helps me remember the encounter with God that inevitably is found in them.

Thus, I regularly find myself on the threshold of these meeting places with God, preparing to remember, to relive the experiences.

Today is a threshold day.

59 years ago tomorrow I was born to Chester Linwood Parsons, Sr., and Ruth Marie Bethard - the second of two sons, the baby forever in the family. I have memories of those early years, most of them gray. I have a favorite picture of my dad holding me, a heavy set little boy with no neck and a crew cut, beaming in his arms. He is grinning from ear to ear. But mostly, my memories are held and colored by the mental illness of my grandmother, and how that imprinted my mother who never really could find her center, her true self, for a whole lifetime.

All of that has left some very real etchings in my own soul. One consequence is that my default position in life, when I'm worn out or tired or depressed, is the sense of being alone. Green Day said it this way a few years ago. . .

"I walk a lonely road, the only one that I have ever known
Don't know where it goes, but it's only me and I walk alone
I walk this empty street, on the Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Where the city sleeps and I'm the only one and I walk alone

My shadow's the only one who walks beside me
My shallow heart's the only fear that's beating
Sometimes I wish Someone up there would find me
'Til then I walk alone"

from the "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" (album of the same name), Green Day

It is a hard, almost brutal, driving song. It's hard edge screams "honest." I love it, because it captures something of the alienation that was pretty much my base out of which I lived.

Until Jesus met me one day in 1972, just 10 days before my 21st birthday.

I actually spent my birthday that year, sleeping on the floor in Clyde McDowell's dorm room in Wheaton College, becoming friends with the man who would change my life more than probably any other man I will ever know.

Truthfully, I still visit the Boulevard of Broken Dreams. The feelings that song calls up for me are hauntingly near, most of the time. The difference is not that He makes all of that go away. It's that He got there first and He waits for me.

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest."

His words, which I borrow.

On the threshold.