Thursday, June 21, 2012

Shameless (or "Die Ants Die!")

I wrote about ants a little while ago and my growing loathing over them.  Oh how I loathe them now.  Living in central Florida has done that to me.  I want to mish them, mash them and I'd even roll them up into fist sized ant balls and devour them if I could get over the grossness of it all.  My conscience has been seared, nay, scorched when it comes to ants.  Just writing this gives me sadistic pleasure.

Joel the prophet spoke of a day similar to mine (or maybe not) when locusts would absolutely ravage Israel.  I don't know if I've earned my ant issue, but apparently Israel had earned the locusts, for those little dudes were thirsty for vengeance.

Joel paints a desolate picture of this locust plague, but then he includes a glorious unveiling of God's nature - a God who is "abounding in steadfast love" and who "relents from disaster."  This God promises restoration of the land and the crops, all that the locusts have taken, and then he says "my people shall never again be put to shame."  And in case we didn't hear it the first time he repeats "my people shall never again be put to shame."

When I look at the ants crawling under my front door, being poisoned by our lethal death-traps Melissa found at Walmart, I feel shame.  I feel shame that she had to do something about our ant problem.  It seems sort of like a guy thing to do.  And it's not Melissa's fault, she's a doer, it's the way she's put together, so if I don't get to it in the 10th of a second I have to respond, she's on it (no it's more like 10 days).  But sometimes it makes me feel shame, shame at not getting to man-stuff (like killing ants) before her, or the lawn, or the garage, or the... (I did beat her to the lawn this week).

So I shuffle a few dead ants around with my feet and wonder, "How cool would it be to never feel shame?"  I know this post is quickly becoming a spaghetti junction of thoughts and metaphors but hang with me.  I don't think God wants us to feel shame.  In fact, I'm convinced he's dead set against it.

The picture he paints in Joel is the Day of the Lord, when he would poor out his spirit on his chosen people and dwell in their midst.  It's a good day, a day that points to the early chapters of Acts and Pentecost.  A day that we now live in as believers, but not yet.  So we should be shameless, but we still have shame around.

My inadequacy at thoroughly vanquishing ants isn't my real problem, my problem is deeper.  I often struggle with my identity as a man.  My identity is so tied to what I do or don't do, that I forget the reality that is me. The deeper me that is with God.  The inner-chamber of my heart where the Holy of Holies actually is.  A place where peace overwhelms shame.

The gospel is a "no shame" message.  Christ took on our shame, suffered our shame and was victorious over our shame.  The shame I fell now is a ghost, an illusion.  It's not reality.  I find this a comforting thought.  Perhaps it's why God had Joel repeat it twice.