The What and Who of Meandering About

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Living in Three Places at the Same Time

I find that I am lost in three places at the same time.  And I confess that I am haunted by all three.

I see and experience the world presently; that which is.  There are times when that which I see, experience, and think are sources of joy, challenge, and delight.  When I consider the beauty of the earth, hear an exquisite piece of music, encounter the exuberance of a child at play, or experience moments of genuine peace, I find myself filled with wonder.
And yet...
There are times when that which I see, experience, and think are sources of pain, difficulty, and despair.  When I consider the wanton destruction of nature, hear a story of an excruciatingly human struggle, encounter dis-ease, or fail yet again, I find myself filled with sorrow.

I am in three places at the same time.

I think back upon the past; that which was.  There are times when that which I recall, remember, and reflect upon are a source of gratitude, rejoicing, and amazement.  When I consider the the places from which we have come, memories from my childhood, past triumphs, or the manner in which light and life have been offered to others, I find myself filled with a sense of thanksgiving.
And yet...
There are times when that which I recall, remember, and reflect upon are a source of guilt, shame, and regret.  When I consider the ways in which we have failed to care for one another, relive the moments I have done or said something that injures another, think about the times in which I have not acted on behalf of someone else, or ponder the manner in which I have been bruised or scarred and have done the same to others, I find myself filled with remorse.

I am in three places at the same time.

I dream dreams of the future; that which is yet to be.  There are times when that which I anticipate, await, and hope for are a source of energy, desire, and expectation.  When I consider the coming spring, plan a long needed vacation, look forward to exciting next steps, or think about fantastic possibilities, I find myself filled with promise.
And yet...
There are times when that which I anticipate, await, and hope for are a source of dread, worry, and distress.  When I consider the uncertainty of plans made, live with the unknown of the next day, doubt the outcome of decisions or tests, or fantasize the worst possible results of coming events, I find myself filled with overwhelming anxiety.

I am in three places at the same time.  And I confess that I am haunted by all three.

The promise, the hope, found in the reality of dwelling simultaneously in the past, present, and future is that the God witnessed to in the First and Second Testament is the God contemporaneously existing in all three places with us.  We are told that the resurrected Christ spoke to John and said, "I am the Alpha and Omega...the one who is and who was and who is to come."  When Moses stood before the bush that was ablaze and yet not consumed, we are told that this God responded to Moses' inquiry about the divine identity, "Ehyeh asher ehyeh."  This has often been translated, "I am who I am."  A more accurate translation from the Hebrew may be "I will be who I have yet to be."  From the surrounding text, we can surmise that this phrase may have carried with it the weight of God being the God of their ancestors (I was), the God of the covenant with them (I am), and the God of the future (I will be).

Indeed, we all dwell in three places at the same time.  And often we are haunted by all three.  Yet, we can take comfort that God dwells in and is sovereign over all three places.  We have the freedom to fully live into all three with confidence that we are not there alone.

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