Sunday, July 16, 2006

Red Lake II: The Sovereign Paradigm

“When you’re on our land, you need to obey our rules!” The stern face of the police officer only reinforced the guilt and pallid face of truth of my unworthiness to serve the God I love. My head hung low that day as I knew that my stent at being a good steward with the things that God had given me had been wrongfully neglected, and that I had truly been negligent with valuable property.

There is an old myth that no one ever gets pulled over on the rez. The police there are to busy handling bigger problems (or more actually living in a strange anticipation between the more hefty things that they have to deal with such as the rise in gang activity, alcoholism, and meth busts – its only a matter of time) than speeding and traffic, but when you cut a cop off so you can pass the person in front of you because they are going the speed limit, it is pretty blatantly obvious that you are going to be pulled over. It is the worst feeling in the world when that car flips around and those lights go on, but what is worst is that as the policeman took my information I became dreadfully aware of the strange paradigm that faced both of us. Red Lakers truly do believe themselves to be a foreign country when they are on their land, and it became painfully clear, as I sat on the two lane road, that this may in fact be a much greater ordeal than would normally be expected as I treaded less than lightly on this land that was sovereign and free; I found myself sickly stricken with the realization that I had been an unruly guest in an all too alien home. If only I had been more committed to the stewardship that had been preached to me before; if only I would have not let go of my tenacious hold on integrity; I had let my self get lethargic and apathetic in that arena; I made a mistake.

I told Jesus I was sorry, and in fact, I could think of nothing more sincere in my heart at the time. The Spirit, as always, comforted me in my time of distressed, and I knew that this meeting was no accident, and that my unworthiness only revealed His worthiness all the more. The officer grilled me sternly about the rental car that I drove, but there also seemed to be surprise and awe in his interaction with me. It dawned on me then that it may not have been normal for him, beyond the roadside questioning, to have someone be so compliant with him; to have someone ready and prepared with paperwork; to have someone openly admit that he was in the wrong and so willing to accept the punishment due to him.

“Mr. DeHarte, I’m not going to write you today. We appreciate what you are doing here, but when you are on our land you have to obey our rules! The speed limit through here is _5, so please watch your speed.”

“Yes Sir. Sorry Sir” I mustered meekly as I realized the ramifications of not only my actions but also the fact that he knew who we were and what we are doing here, and that Jesus had used this opportunity to share a little of his light through his unruly servant.

Why in my darkest times does a glorious Father reveal Himself all the more fully in love? Why when I am the most obviously broken would He choose to shine all the more brightly through me? Why would He choose one no better than refuse to carry out such a grand responsibility? There are times when I am forced by the ship wreck known as my sin-nature to adore him all the more for being a flower in the middle of my garbage heap and for showing me how to do the same; that’s a convoluted way of saying I have no clear words to express His beauty.

The gospel of John tells us of a time when Jesus served His disciples by washing their feet. He tells them that to do the same, to humble themselves to the uttermost to serve, that this is the “path of blessing”. It turns out that when I try to do this that my spirit is willing but my flesh is weak—sorry.

“My God, my sacrifice is a broken spirit.”

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