Maybe you've heard this song?
Sometimes I can't help the feeling that I'm living a life of illusion
And oh, why can't we let it be
And see through the hole in this wall of confusion?
I just can't help the feeling I'm living a life of illusion.
It's a Joe Walsh song I heard this morning on the radio. As soon as I heard the line, "And see through the hole in this wall of confusion" I thought --
That is exactly why I love THEOLOGY.
I am currently reading different theology books, but mainly I am stuck on Karl Barth. Wow. He has some really heavy stuff and yet, oddly enough, I am able to wrap my head around most of it. Granted, sometimes I have to read a section, uh...a SENTENCE, several times to get the full meaning, and even then, I am not sure I am exactly getting the meaning as Barth intended, but I do feel like I am able to see through a hole in this wall of confusion.
Theology is the hole in the wall.
Here we are in this world of illusion.
We all know none of this is going to last. We know we're not here forever, that life is short, but we try to hold on to it. We try to slow down the hands of time. (Except on Mondays, during a root canal, or at the DMV.) Time marches on. Whether I like it or not, my favorite dog is going to die someday. She just is. I hate that. I wish I could stop it, but I can't. Instead, I have to push that reality out of my mind and live in the world of illusion that my little Cinnamon is here to stay. (She's not as wimpy as she sounds. That's just the name she came with.)
Oh and you, Mom. You'll be here forever, too, right? It's OK if I don't call as much as I should. It's OK if we're not as close as I wish we were. Welp, I better stop there because tears are coming to my eyes. Back to the world of illusion. It is much more blissful in that little make-believe world I have complete control over.
And then in the middle of this life of illusion, along comes THEOLOGY. The study of God. The study of God's relationship to man. His revelation. Our purpose. Our meaning. Our NEXT.
Theology: The hole in the wall of confusion that runs between this world of illusion and the real world - God's world. Where we look for answers to the big questions.
Who is God? Why did he put us here? How does he communicate with us? Why do we love? What is real? What is truth? What happens when we die?
Theology looks through the hole in the wall to the other side. Studying it helps me understand this side and what's coming. And who's in charge of it all.
Imagine you are walking down the street and you come to a huge gray wall with a baseball sized hole right in the middle at eye level. How could you NOT look through the hole? Unless you have absolutely no curiosity that hole would call your name and you'd peek. I know it calls mine. My peeking turns into peering as I read the works of Augustine, Luther, Kierkegaard, and Barth. The hole in their wall was really BIG. They could see a lot on the other side. When I read what they've written, when I really focus and try to take in the view as they describe it, it feels as though my pupils dilate or the hole in the wall crumbles open a little bit wider.
And I catch my breath.
Because the view is breath-taking.
Whoa! I whip my head back.
But then I must look again.
The view goes dark like when the time runs out on one of those antique nickel picture viewers. (Not the girly ones. I never looked in those and I am not THAT old.) When this happens to me it means one of two things has occurred:
1) I have just seen something amazing. I've traced a pathway with my eyes to a dangerously high perch overlooking jagged rocks. God's righteousness. My sin. The brutal, eternal price paid by Jesus on the cross. Whoa. The profundity of it causes me to pull back, to look away. The view isn't just the "easy on the eyes" panorama of the roses and rainbows of God's love.
2) My brain is tired and it's time to read a O'Henry short story or do a "Fast & Easy" word puzzle. My brain can only take in the view for so long and then I have to step away. "TMI!" as the kids say. Too Much Information! But someday, I will be able to take it all in.
Someday, this wall of confusion between the world of illusion and the world of God comes crashing down like Jericho, and I, we, will walk through to the other side. What a glorious day that will be! When that happens, the jagged rocks and cliffs will be gone or maybe we'll have really fancy hiking shoes and no fear?
For now, I'll stick to reading the great peekers of the past, the ones who peered long and hard through the hole, who tried to crawl through it or at least scrape at it to make it wider. The ones who's sharp minds and eloquent words lead me to the hole and then point at it and say, "Look through here!"
Take a peek. It's an amazing view. Sometimes the view is fuzzy, but even still, it is strangely beautiful, not of this world. It is different, distant, but real and accessible. I've discovered some of what's on the other side of the wall is here on this side in smaller, less brilliant forms, like postcards from the other side that say "Wish you were here." I've come to realize how much of God is on this side and how much more of Him is yet to come.
That is why I love theology. I get to see through the hole in this wall of confusion - the one that divides me from the God who came and will come again. I get to take a peek.
What a view.
-Hope A. Horner, 2013