Step on those tracks

Faith & Inspiration

Perhaps it's because I've recently abandoned the teaching of Calvinistic predestination that I am so troubled when I hear about the death of someone like Michael Jackson. There are a great many soul-sick people in the world, and we know that no temptation comes upon anyone except what is common to man, but still there is something particularly gut-wrenching about seeing a human being come gradually unglued on the national stage. The temptations of man are common, but a man with uncommon wealth and privilege can indulge his temptations far more extensively than the driver of a garbage truck.

Having peered into the sorry state of my own soul, I won't presume to gauge the state of another's. I am newly struck, however, by the reality that when a person contorts his soul into a monstrosity, this is not part of some cosmic plan, it is a great tragedy. And though none of us are appointed---thank God---as judges of Michael Jackson's soul, any reasonable person can see that---inner life aside---his observable life was a tragedy. I've already heard a few people proffer indifference at Jackson's death, but I think the right attitude, reflecting a right understanding of creation and our Creator, is that a life that never came untwisted is to be mourned at its passing.

When I hear that someone whose life was a public train wreck has died (Anna Nicole Smith comes to mind), I wonder what might have helped her or him grasp hold of a lifeline. Could no one have offered this man a drink of cool water? Perhaps many did, only to be scorned. It gives me pause, however, when I consider the train wreck lives whose tracks I tiptoe across for fear of getting run over, of getting dragged alongside. Then I consider the cliff toward which I've pointed my own life more than once, only to have people who love me stand on the tracks, refusing to let me go.

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Those of us who are saved are saved by grace, and those of us who claim to love God are called to love our neighbor. So I think it's worth asking: Who needs me to step in front of his runaway train? I suspect if we look around, we'll find plenty of runaway trains, driven by scared, angry, desperately lonely people. Step on the tracks. Not with a lecture or a handy verse, but with the wild love of a God who adores the likes of you and me. Step on the tracks.


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