Sunday, February 24, 2008

Juarez Reflection: Indwelling


There is the smell of smoke and excrement intermingled with the freshness of spring as I stand tiredly holding a dripping paint brush. I am painting a mural on the outside of a kindergarten. I am alone and silent. My thoughts wander in the last hours of daylight…

What is the nature of indwelling sin? Does it have the face of a man who would beat the woman he loves more than anything in the world? Does it look like a young man so deprived of any encouraging word that he must seek his dominance through violence and rage? Does it have the look of a girl who believes what is said about her worth, so she solicits the stares of middle aged men on the market streets and border bridges? Is it a mother who cannot fathom trying to fight uphill to provide for the family she already has and so bounces from whatever beds will give her children a meal? Does it look like the person who, even in the midst of poverty, is so consumed with an adherence to material things that he would vandalize, terrorize another to prove any sort of boundary between the two? Does it look like an American missionary making vast assumptions about the faith of another based not on any spiritual aspect, but solely upon their physical dwelling; when one assumes the character of another's spirit or level of inherent happiness and peace because of the décor or placement of their shack? Perhaps it is actually more when a large group of people seeks to appropriate the practice of others in order to justify their own unsatisfying and unwarranted pharisaic cravings. Maybe it is when tolerance…no love takes a back seat to dogma and pride. Maybe it is when I actually hinder others from believing the stark liberation of this thing called the gospel because I refuse to not simply practice but believe it. Maybe it is not when I am being inadequate of pardon, but more truly when I refuse to believe that I am so pardoned; when I lay down what it means to be truly spiritual for the interplay of a man made system; when I skip over life's chapter on the peace of the indwelling Holy Spirit and focus on those of the ever present darkness; when I forget the Apostle Paul's urging to remember that I have the same Spirit as Christ.

Dusk falls upon me as I drive home, and with the last streaming rays of sun I struggle to suppress the thought that I should leave this place. That life at home would be much easier – not from any sort of facet of comfort, but as a retreat from the poignancy of my vast inadequacies. I struggle to remember Christ and the peace of His Spirit. I struggle to remember my salvation. My heart wrestles to recall the place where I might be free and encourage others to be the same. I climb out of the truck and examine the paint splotches upon my clothes. I take note of the aroma of food filling the trash-filled streets where families struggle and play.

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