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Circling the drain

Kuoleman Puutarha by Hugo Simberg (Fresco – 1906). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Garden_of_Death

Hey. I’m Zac. Lately I’ve been wondering if I might be going crazy. You really need to be keeping an account of your thoughts if you spend time wondering things like that. You’ve got to take every thought captive. And, you have to know what to do with the thoughts once you’ve apprehended them. I’m in the process of attaching training wheels to my mind (probably my whole being really). I haven’t taken very good care of my mind over the 33 years I’ve been on this earth. I think it’ll be for the best to apply the breaks a little, and much more carefully navigate my way through this strange period of my life. I’ll do some blogging for my own mental health (and for my own enjoyment). I’m blogging for my own mental health enjoyment. 

I want to explore, understand, and navigate my own mental health as a redeemed person. If that last part was for you an unanticipated qualifier, it’s just to say that I’m a Christian. My point in disclosing that often spurn inciting information is that my efforts to explore, understand, and navigate my own heart, mind & soul can’t be undertaken in some willy-nilly fashion. I’m broken. I’m not able to be the captain of my own ship. I’d sink that black pearl quicker than you could say “where’s the rum gone?” I need help from the unbroken. In other words, I’m taking all my diagnosis & prescriptions from the Great Physician.

As a follower of Jesus, I’m being ever so slowly & painfully sanctified. I say that as confidently as I can. It is happening. It must happen or I die two deaths. I’m seeking to actually enjoy the process, no, to love the process of mortification and vivification. In the words of the Mandalorian:

“This is the way”

The Westminster Shorter Catechism (something of a set of training wheels for the redeemed) says that the ‘chief end of man’ (the highest purpose of all human beings) is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. So, as I write stuff for my own mental health, I want to write words that glorify God, and testify to my enjoyment of Him as I keep my mind accountable in all its movements and stirrings. In particular, I want to write words that help me to enjoy Him in this fallen body of death that I am bound to while I wait (with all the saints) to see it glorified on the last day. That is to say, that I am no friend to my flesh. Well… That needs to be questioned actually. I’ll deal with that later.

A Christian is someone who is being renewed by God. Lately, my mind has not buzzing with what I would call ‘renewal’. All I’m seeing is mortality, death, rottenness in my being. I need a rewired mind. I believe that’s my only hope for a sound mind. Just to be clear, my hope is not in sanctification itself but in the Person who can do it in me – I need the mind of Christ. I also believe there will be deep, supernatural joy to be found in the midst of this mortification and vivification. Again, not that I need a thing called joy but that I need to find the joyful One. I say all this, but has it really clicked in my heart?

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

Jeremiah 17:9

I long for evidence of vivification! Should I be able to feel it? I’m sure I’ve felt it in the past… Ugh! This place is so hard to wallow in. The stench is unbearable. Isn’t wallowing supposed to be somewhat enjoyable? The pig seems so happy! Lies!

There is this One who stands with me through it all however, who does not seem at all repulsed at the sight of me in my pit, but has genuine affection and grace for me. Why do I constantly respond to Him as though He were lying? I should let Him drive this shouldn’t I? I should let Him rescue me. He knows what He’s doing. I need Him to do something drastic in me, but I feel like I’ve forgotten how to ask Him. Maybe I never actually learned to do that. Oh man I need help. I need surgery, and I want to be awake for it, so that I know the work is being done. I don’t really understand what I’m asking for.

I’m also a student at a theological college. I’m not of the opinion that this has contributed to my feelings of mental/spiritual discombobulation. Now that I have convinced you of that we can move on. I’ve been told by my lecturers that some of my essays read like ‘stream of consciousness’. I had never actually heard of that genre of writing before receiving that feedback. I wonder whether the lecturer was being kinder than he needed to be, as I’m pretty sure my writing reflects very poor planning and a lack of discipline. I suppose my ‘stream of consciousness’ writing would also reflect a confused and muddled consciousness if that were indeed the case. I’m okay with taking that risking that at the moment. It’s not a good idea to take those kinds of risks in academic essays though, trust me. Anyway, ‘stream of consciousness’ writing sounds cool, doesn’t it? I’m drawn to cool. I’m unique like that.

I’m sure I’ll cringe at much of what I write here when I re-read it in time. Have you ever read your old Facebook posts? In any case, I want to continue with the whole ‘stream of consciousness’ thing as I reckon it might be a more accurate gauge on where I’m really at, rather than trying to come across as a skilled writer. I don’t wanna lose my edge you know? And, I don’t want to add delusion to my discombobulation. I’m so glad I’m not suffering any delusions. :/ Anyway, journaling seems like a good way to track growth. 

E g o d e a t h .

I’ve got to learn how to die to myself better. There are no shortcuts. Here’s a not-so-random fact: Entheogens won’t achieve true ego death. Only those in Christ can really understand what it means to die daily, and yet live. It can only be done in and by Christ. According to Paul the Apostle, I died in/with Christ by faith on that old rugged cross nearly 2000 years ago (Romans 6:6). The question is: am I currently living more in the corpse that was done away with and buried in baptism, rather than living in the Living One – Jesus Christ, who was raised by the very Spirit of Life on that glorious day of the Lord?

“For if we died with him,
we will also live with him”

2 Timothy 2:11

I’m going to do some circling of the drain each day as I try to kill off the rottenness in my heart using the means God has given me. Here’s a question I have a quick answer to: Q. Who has rescued me from this body of death? A. Thanks be to Christ Jesus, who died, and yet lives. May I be found in Him.

This blog is for my daily dying – my daily circling of the drain.*

*May not actually be a daily blog… However the dying daily really does need to happen:

“Born twice, die once. Born once, die twice.”

Dunno

I just don’t want to

King Solomon in Old Age. Gustave Doré 1866

I just don’t want to. I don’t want to do the work. I don’t want to do God’s work. I don’t want to do my own work. I don’t want to do the right thing. I don’t want to do the wrong thing. I don’t want to do anything. Actually that isn’t true at all, I want pleasure. I want to graze. I want to wallow. I want to fill my belly. I want to eat drink and be merry. “Dekadenz!” says Nietzsche with piercing, unmuffled clarity from behind his wiry moustache (or at least from behind the wiry moustache of his mind) – and he’s right on that. What a scornful, wretched, putrid, and despicable existence. God is not dead however, Nietzsche is. Nietzsche now knows all to well that it is for all this kind of decadence, God’s wrath will be poured out on all the godlessness and wickedness of people like him and I. I did not just compare myself with Freddy Nizzle.

This all has to die. But I don’t want to do the work of killing something I don’t hate all that much. I need to be taught to hate what is reprehensible. I don’t want to learn. I just want to know. It’s all too hard, and I want to finish watching Yellowstone on Netflix.

This all has to die. I repent for not wanting to repent. I repent for not wanting this all to die in me. Oh God what a mess. How does He love us? I know the answer to that. He loves us in this way: that He sent the jewel of all eternity – His own beloved Son to be incarnated as a human, thrown down into this hovel of decadent disorder to be spat on and butchered by His new kin. Such an alien love this is to us. Have you heard about it? Has is properly baked your noodle? There I go thinking about food again, and not even nutritious food at that. My wife hates it that I love Mi-Goreng noodles, but she still gets it for me. I usually add tuna (with chili) to it. Good stuff. But it leaves me feeling empty like the packet in which I stuff the empty seasoning sachets into. Double empty. That is what decadence does to us. I don’t really care though. I do care.

This has to die. I have to die. Life is not honoured in this hopeless lusting after the flesh. How can we even begin to know what life really is in our helpless state? Even the most un-decadent people on the planet turn out to be just as cursed in the end. Have you ever read the Qohelet? It’s better known as the Book of Ecclesiastes. You should read it. You should read it in Hebrew if you could be bothered. That will bake your noodle.

Everything under the sun must die.

I’ve decided that I do want to do the work. I do want to hate my sin. I do want to change. I do want to be holy. I just know that I cannot do it in my own strength. That is probably mostly my problem: surrendering (in my mind) has the most profound sense of difficulty attached to it. It may very well be an illusory sense, as I’m pretty sure the definition of surrendering is to cease from all effort.

surrender

[ suhren-der ]

verb (used with object)

  1. to yield (something) to the possession or power of another; deliver up possession of on demand or under duress: to surrender the fort to the enemy; to surrender the stolen goods to the police.
  2. to give (oneself) up, as to the police.
  3. to give (oneself) up to some influence, course, emotion, etc.: He surrendered himself to a life of hardship.
  4. to give up, abandon, or relinquish (comfort, hope, etc.).to yield or resign (an office, privilege, etc.) in favour of another.

Thanks Dictionary.

What about that which is not under the sun? What, pray tell, is above the sun O Qohelet? Does he know? He knows something. He knows far more than anyone I’ve ever met. He says it’s all smoke/vapour/breath… ‘meaninglessness’ if it’s not done in recognition and reckoning of the One who is beyond what is under the sun. The Creator has pierced through the canopy to require an account from us. We will give an account. What account will I give? I stand on the better side of the Qohelet, the better side of the cross of Christ (though I believe he anticipated his own safe arrival on this better side too). I stand on the shores of mercy and grace in Christ. The Judge of all the world has swallowed me up like Jonah’s fish, and spat me out on that beautiful shore. I will give that account. The account of Christ having done the difficult work I could never have done, nor could ever do in a million years under the sun. What is most sweet in this account, is that He wanted to.

He wanted to. He still wants to swallow me up in grace and mercy. I keep jumping the first ship to Tarsus (by the way, you should read the book of Jonah too). Send the storm Yahweh, send the blackest torrent, so that I could be thrown over-board by the pagan’s who have no need for a useless and scared little boy who claims to be a child of the Most High. Send the storm God. Let Your waves and breakers crash over me.

Do the work Lord, or I die two deaths.

Psalm 42

To the choirmaster. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah.

42 As a deer pants for flowing streams,
    so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
    for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
    “Where is your God?”
These things I remember,
    as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
    and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
    a multitude keeping festival.
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.
My soul is cast down within me;
    therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
    from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
    at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
    have gone over me.
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
    and at night his song is with me,
    a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God, my rock:
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
    because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10 As with a deadly wound in my bones,
    my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long,
    “Where is your God?”
11 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

Amen.