The commitment amazes me
I walked from the train station in Moscow until I found someone who could speak English. I asked for Red Square and they said, “That way.” So I went “that way.” A bit later I asked someone else if I was headed in the right direction. He said, “20 minutes that way.” He was exactly right. 20 minutes later I was there, standing in the very spot I’d watched Russian tanks and military parades occupy during the Cold War.
At one end of Red Square is St. Basil’s Cathedral. It’s a fascinating building, consisting of a central cathedral and multiple chapels around the outside. The initial building took about 6 years to build. The remaining additions came as countries were conquered by Ivan IV.
As I’ve seen cathedrals in Europe, my appreciation has mounted. Many of them were under construction for years. Undoubtedly, many who designed them and initiated their construction were never privileged to see them completed. The commitment amazes me. To start something, uncertain of seeing it’s completion, is an incredible act of faith. I’m challenged by that in my Christian life.
Colossians 3 confronts me with that deep need for a similar commitment. The process of “putting to death,” “getting rid of,” and “putting on” is a long term commitment. Eugene Peterson uses the phrase, “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction,” for this kind of commitment. To begin the process of being a disciple of Jesus is to begin moving in one direction for a long time. It means that we will have days when we are not sure we’ll ever see the completion. There will be times when we let others down, when our faith flags, when we are sure God must be disappointed, but we keep plugging along.
The text arrests our attention when we read, “You used to walk in these ways…” Obviously, they were in transition from an old life to a new one. So are we. Whenever I speak I realize I’m speaking to people at every stage of development. There are some that have not started to change, some in the midst of change, some demonstrating the wonder of change. So, every time I speak I know I face the potential of hurting someone, embarrassing someone, reminding someone.
Let me take this opportunity to issue this statement, “I honor and appreciate your changes. I’m sorry if my mentioning things like unfaithfulness is painful. Please, know that I deeply appreciate the progress you are making. I’m grateful for the intense forgiveness and forbearance that goes on in marriages where couple survive unfaithfulness and move to a beautiful new level of relationship. Thank you for not giving up. Your story is all our stories–’We used to be…’”