Friday, January 21, 2011

Strength Speaks to a Broken Mind

Let Eagles bid the Tortoise sunward soar --
As vainly Strength speaks to a broken mind.
                            Samuel Taylor Coleridge

This fragment of Coleridge is perhaps an allusion to Aesop's fable of the Tortoise and the Eagle.

A TORTOISE, lazily basking in the sun, complained to the sea-birds of her hard fate, that no one would teach her to fly. An Eagle, hovering near, heard her lamentation and demanded what reward she would give him if he would take her aloft and float her in the air. "I will give you," she said, "all the riches of the Red Sea." "I will teach you to fly then," said the Eagle; and taking her up in his talons he carried her almost to the clouds suddenly he let her go, and she fell on a lofty mountain, dashing her shell to pieces. The Tortoise exclaimed in the moment of death: "I have deserved my present fate; for what had I to do with wings and clouds, who can with difficulty move about on the earth?'

Moral: If men had all they wished, they would be often ruined.

I have spent many a day wishing I was something or someone else. Dissatisfied with my lot and discouraged with myself I longed to be something more or at least something else.  To be sure Coleridge did as well. He suffered from divorce, depression and drug addiction.

His epitaph reads:

"Beneath this sod
A Poet lies; or that which once was he.
O lift one thought in prayer for S.T.C.
That he, who many a year with toil of breath,
Found Death in Life, may here find Life in Death."

Let Eagles bid the Tortoise sunward soar... Have you ever heard them bidding? Calling you up? Wooing you to a place you wish you could go. I believe this is a common human experience. No matter who or what we are we all have at times wished we were someone or something else.

As vainly... Coleridge seems to believe that it is an impossible thing for people to change. Not an uncommon belief when trapped in drug addiction or some form of mental affliction.

Strength speaks to a broken mind. If the mind is broken how then can Strength supply any help or remedy?

There is a part of every human that is broken. The Bible calls it the "inner man" or "inner being". It is that part of us that resonates with justice, love, truth, and beauty. Eternal qualities that we admire but are just out of our grasp. And like Coleridge we despair of ever soaring higher. But the truth and strength of the Bible doesn't just speak to the mind. The mind is where we think we should start. The apostle Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians that we need to start deeper. No one can understand with the mind the love of Jesus unless God has strengthened their inner being by the Holy Spirit. Pray this prayer with Paul.

Eph 3:16-21; that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

The truth of the gospel is not a creed or doctrine to be only apprehended with the mind. It is a person with whom we will become utterly captivated; Jesus Christ, God's son. The strength of our relationship is not and never will be dependent on my ability to understand, reason, think, or comprehend. My transformational life in Christ takes place because of what Jesus did and does. It's as if I am looking at snap shots of my life, baby pictures, toddler-hood, school days, teenager, adult. What did I do to get from one stage to the next? Nothing much, just eat, sleep and live. So it is in Christ, I simply follow Him. No incantations, no magic formula. Just a love that bids me to love Him in return.