Clear and Valid

I am a gadget-geek. Just ask anyone who knows me. I surround myself with stuff: instruments that read temperature and windspeed, and handheld units that track my exact global position, within 20 feet or so, via a half-dozen satellites zooming above me. Strapped around my wrist is a watch that tells me my current altitude and in which direction I am heading. I have two docking stations for my iPod, and when I take the iPod for a iRide in my iSUV, I can tune it in to any FM station on my iRadio. By-the-way, if I wanted to listen to every song and every Podcast on my iPod in one sitting I would need to carve out no less than 5 days in order to do that. And the little bugger isn't even half-full. Incredible.

One of the most basic gadgets I own is a scanner. Basic technology. Lots of fun. I am the type of person who sees a fire truck pass by, with sirens screaming and lights flashing, and wants to know the inside scoop. False alarm? Car fire? Cat in a tree? I have to know. Since it would be unwise to follow every emergency vehicle I see, lest I be seen as a stalker, all I have to do is switch on my scanner, which, of course, I have pre-programmed to monitor all of the local emergency channels, and PRESTO! Instant information!

So a couple of days ago, on my way home, I found that I had tired of listening to all 1646 of my iTunes, and I switched on the scanner. I have discovered, after listening to this thing for hours, that the police spend an inordinate amount of time doing traffic stops. At least in my small town. Between the city, county, state, and federal officers who patrol my area, you would think that with as many folks as they stop each day that by now everyone in my county has been pulled.

All that to say, when a cop pulls you over, he immediately radios his dispatcher with your license plate number, to make sure the tag is on the right car and that it has not expired. Then, he saunters up to you and confiscates your driver's license, ambles back to his car, and calls his dispatcher with your OLN (operator's license number). The dispatcher then checks their system, and if everything is cool, they let the officer know that you have no"29's", which means you don't have a warrant or 187 parking tickets and haven't recently escaped from prison.

Stick with me, I am making a point.

Each dispatcher has his or her own way of saying things, and you get to know their own individual sayings and vocal shorthands. This particular day, a new dispatcher was working, and, as usual, an officer pulled over a car and did the routine. This time, though, when the OLN came back OK, instead of announcing the subject had no 29's, the dispatcher told the officer that the driver was "clear and valid."

Clear and valid. I immediately thought back on the past five months of my life--probably the hardest time I have ever endured. The pain here was self-inflicted, but came with such a multitude of aftershocks and flashbacks that it will literally take years to restore peace in my world. Years in order to be clear and valid. And it may never happen.

I sat in my car stunned--like someone had taken all of my feelings and boiled them down to a couple of little words. I am not clear and valid. Not in my eyes, or in the eyes of many who know me. I have hated myself, had friends turn their backs on me, and inflicted so much damage that there are days when I wonder if it will ever end, and days that I wish that dump truck coming towards me would suddenly veer into my lane and take me out of my own, and everyone else's, misery.

Sure, I know in my head that in the eyes of my Lord I am indeed clear and valid. Jesus did that for me. Christians talk of the crucifiction and how Christ took all of our sins upon him up on that cross. And I believe that. But, I wonder sometimes, if He did indeed suffer for my sins, then why do I hurt so badly when I sin and why does it have to hurt those around me? Why couldn't part of the deal be that not only are my sins taken away, but the suffering as well? Or even half of it? Maybe limit the pain and suffering and consequences to a particular time limit. You know, lie to someone, get 14 days. After that, clear and valid.

Because the real truth is, no matter what Christ did for us, we will never, here in this short plastic life, feel totally clear and valid. It's not the plan. I guess if we were, we wouldn't need God anymore, right? The suffering and pain is just the road to our Redeemer that we have to travel in order to see Him and feel His love.

Maybe today, we as Christians focus too much on being clear and valid. You hear a lot of talk today in Christian circles about VICTORY and "putting your sin behind you." But what if victory feels more like defeat, and what if I will never forget my past sin? What then? I don't believe the Church today is willing to answer those questions, because to admit that there is actually pain in being a Christian, and that suffering is required in order to follow Christ, then that would be negative advertising, right? Preach a month's worth of sermons about suffering and pain and watch your numbers dwindle. And it all does seem to be about numbers sometimes, doesn't it?

Instead of trying to quicken our steps and impatiently trying to move ourselves, and those around us, out of the pain and straight into a world where your sin is forgiven so why are you still sad you must not be a true Christian--maybe instead we should stop and feel the pain for little while. Maybe the pain and suffering is the victory.


Blogger Lauri said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Wed May 10, 04:29:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Lauri said...

Hi Kent,

So glad you created this blog. Your questions make me think. I obviously don't have the answers to them. One thing I do think is that you're not the unlikely Christian -= you're the sincere, honest, real Christian. I just got a book called the post-evangelical by Dave Tomlinson - hoping it will answer some of my own questions about why I feel like who I am as a Christian isn't quite good enough. Not the point of the gospel, I'm guessing. Anyway, should get back to writing essays. Looking forward to hearing more thoughts.

Wed May 10, 04:31:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done, well said. I still think you should write a book. This is a start. You should have begun this long ago. I'm glad you are now. Everyone suffers. Christians don't have the market on it...I don't know how people make it through extreme suffering without Christ. He showed us how its done. I like what you say about the victory. I look forward to reading your blog as you continue on your journey through this thing. Hitting 40 first...PG

Wed May 10, 10:45:00 PM 2006  

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