Is there such a thing as a theology of ‘giving up’, or of ‘calling it a day’?
When those around you tell you it should’ve worked out by now if God was ‘in it’, are they correct?
When no matter what you do ends up with nothing coming into your bank account, is that how you measure God’s blessing on your life? Who is your first commitment to? God, Church, Family, Career, knowing how much your services are worth?
What do we mean by ‘calling and vocation’? Do we think in terms of sustainable income? How come in the same breath as we mention discipleship, we qualify it as something affordable, like a good career choice, or something we do for the church (institution)?
How do you know when it’s time to call it a day on the vision you received; for Followers of the Way to have a presence in every aspect, every mode of life and that you’d be a credible witness to such things. “It’s not just a theory! See, we can do it!” If all we have are words, then we may as well give up, for we are not giving any credibility or authenticity to the vision, it is just a fine-sounding theory.
TS Eliot wrote about hollow men,
“Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion”
This then is all we offer. This is all we are.
The idea God had, I think, was that the Word became flesh and that this Word could be seen, heard and touched right here, right now! Conventional wisdom stresses the word over everything, as if words were enough, but they are not because God calls the word to become flesh, it’s the incarnation baby!
We scorn Job Comforters, but how easily we fall into this mode of thinking when one of our friends falls on hard times. So, when we feel like giving up I’d like someone to come back to us with,
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our bodies the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. [2Cor. ch4, v8-10]
But, in thinking of giving up, how do you give up on something you are? We think of doing and not being. We can give up writing for Lent, but we cannot stop being a writer.
So, why do I think about giving up? Because the writer doesn’t take good care of his family? Because his friends tell him he is irresponsible? Because writing is just a hobby? Because the prevailing advice is that something must be wrong with you because there is no evidence of financial blessing?
My thoughts turn to Job. After his friends had finished talking, or rather when God said they had finished talking and it was His turn to speak – this then is my hope, for a word from God. For some comfort that goes beyond the prevailing materialist conception of discipleship. I don’t mind not being around when God created all of this stuff, I don’t mind that I didn’t see the Morning Stars dance together. All I care about is being in the presence of God, when God addresses me personally with great wit, wisdom and the truth about life, the world and the universe. My soul longs for this, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. To find release from this stress and anxiety and the sense of self-worth being worth-less.