Until A Man Is Nothing

I have been careful to try and keep blog writing separate from book writing. Some–not much–but some of what I blog may end up in book format. Today’s post is a departure from that. I hope it helps you to see the part of my journey that is not so much hung up in the past and mired in pain, but looking toward the future… As always, thanks for reading and sharing my journey. Sometime last night, the blog went over 80,000 views–that astounds. I so appreciate those who tell me my struggling out loud is a help to you. Thanks again… in the meantime, enjoy. No more writing for the rest of the weekend. Sunday is coming…

I love to read. Since I was a young boy reading The Hardy Boys, it has often been my escape. I love to read. Like many of you, I have my favorite authors and genres. I am a Tom Clancy devotee. I love to read. The night before I took my comprehensive final exam in grad school and defended my final sermon presentation, I stayed up until about 2:00AM finishing the last book in The Twilight saga. Yes, I love to read.

As I write this part of the book, which I think will be the ending, but one written well before the first two-thirds of is done, I am reading Dan Brown’s Inferno. On page 394, he uses part of a startling Martin Luther quote. The entire quote says: “God creates out of nothing, therefore, until a man is nothing, God can make nothing out of him.”

I resonate with that perspective. It is hard to image being taken any lower. I cannot comprehend a nothing that is less than the nothing I’ve become.

And yet, out of the nothingness, something new is arising. Not necessarily better in some ways, and yet immensely better in others. As I say these things, please understand, this is not a reflection of those my family has lost. It’s not a reflection of our relationships as they played out in the past.

On the other hand, it is a reflection of me. It is a reflection of all the soul searching, questioning, doubting, wondering and fear that has gotten me to this point. It is a reflection of my struggle to understand and know God anew. It is a reflection of my unwillingness to be kept prisoner by my own past cultural, historical, relational, and theological paradigms.

Pardon the old preacher joke here, but it will take more than a pair of dimes to help any of us find the right perspective and relational stance toward God.

I am reminded of a sermon I heard fairly recently about Moses and the Burning Bush.

“Poor Moses. Born a Jew. Raised as a royal Egyptian. He married into a Midianite family. Worked for his father-in-law. He didn’t know who or what he was. In the burning bush, God said, you belong to me.”

How’s that for an identity?

I am no Moses. Somedays I’d just as soon have the sea swallow me like Pharaoh’s Army.

But Moses’ story is my story too. Because ultimately I belong to God. Where He takes me and what I might do is looking like nothing I planned or imagined. Part of my responsibility is learning how to be ok with it. And where possible, embrace it.

Here I am Lord
Is it I Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night
I will go Lord
If you lead me
I will hold your people in my heart.

Daniel Schutte “Here I Am Lord” 1981

Les Ferguson, Jr.

4 thoughts on “Until A Man Is Nothing

  1. I love the Martin Luther quote. Bohnhoffer said, “when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” But I think I like Luther’s quote the best.

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