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blind spots

September 30, 2007

I’m reading Faith Cook’s Lady Jane Grey: Nine Day Queen of England with interest. Both Lady Jane and her cousin, King Edward VI, are portrayed as strong in the Reformed faith. Both were tutored by brilliantly adept Protestant scholars. Lady Jane regularly corresponded–in English, Greek, and Latin–with Bucer and Bullinger, who complimented the depth of her learning and understanding. When King Edward VI sided with Cranmer and against Knox on the subject of kneeling at the communion altar, he was respectfully rebuked by Calvin himself. Yet the young King and the adolescent girl who became his short-term successor against all her desires and better judgment–as grounded as they were in the doctrines of the Reformation–were both Erastians. They apparently never questioned that the monarch should be the head of the Church of England. Queen Jane never questioned that a monarch or a woman should be head of the Church. In one of history’s oddest and bitterest ironies, when Bloody Mary acceded to the throne, she couldn’t wait to return headship of the Church to the Pope. Queen Mary knew her place was as sovereign of the realm and not as head of the Church. The dearly double-minded Protestant English rallied around Mary, more enamored with her DNA than with the truth of the Reformed doctrines. I queried my friend who loaned me the book how she resolved this in her mind. How could people with the faith and knowledge of Edward VI and Lady Jane Grey believe a reigning monarch should head the Church? The same question had provoked my friend, but she resolved it with the answer that is always simple and always right: the very advantaged are blinded by sin as much as anyone else.

A persevering blind spot of my own caused a bumpy re-entry this morning. I haven’t been able to attend my church for two weeks, though I did attend an evening service last week at our sister church. For two months I’ve had relentless symptoms of some sort of malfunction junction in my endocrine system. I should soon be closing in on a diagnosis and mediation of the nagging crumminess. I went over my anxieties with my husband: I’m not prepared for worship. You don’t have to be; it’s enough to go. I don’t want to speak to anyone. You don’t have to. I become hot and breathless speaking to people right now, and very uncomfortable in any sort of crowded situation. So I simply determined to be present without being present to anyone else, and assumed this would make me somehow safely invisible. Sin believes reality will comport to one’s own interests. Faith shows up without determining anything. I wasn’t invisible, and so I felt utterly graceless and overextended and as though I’d failed some well-meaning friends.

My husband does not call it failure to be sick and overwhelmed. He still loved me enough to take me out in the afternoon for a latte to sip in the car at the waterfront and a drive through Pt. Defiance. But still I feel responsible for my sin’s blind spots that continue to prick me and likely others I prick in my insistence on invisibility. I am quite sure my pastor would agree that a desire for invisibility is not a mark of grace. It isn’t; but then, I don’t ask for salvation from grace, but by grace.

Next week I’ll get back on the horse and try again, without my magic cloak. If I stumble, I may fall, and I will get up. If I sit in darkness, for however long, Jehovah will be a light unto me. My enemy will not rejoice in the end.

  1. Jane permalink
    October 1, 2007 7:49 am

    It was good to see you yesterday. I agree with Vic that you don’t need to meet any social standards. We come to church to worship, period. You were there. That was good.

    There are times in our lives when infirmities make it impossible to do anything but barely function. It is part of being human. We are frail, and it is forcibly driven home to us. We put our confidence in the One Who also became flesh for us. He understands perfectly and we are accepted in Him by the Father. Nothing else is required; He is our Surety. Rest in this. I’m glad you were able to enjoy a quiet latte with Vic. When I sin and feel overwhelmed by my own blind spots and transgressions I remember that there is One Who lived the perfect, sinless life on my behalf. My sins are the reason He came. He met the righteous requirements for our life as well as our penalty. Focus on the active and passive obedience, rather than your sins. We mourn over them, which is a mark of grace. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled. We are. Love you, dear heart.

  2. October 1, 2007 7:56 am

    Thanks, Jane. Love you, too. You make bunny cry….

  3. October 1, 2007 5:02 pm

    Blind spots remind me of that Gordon Clark quote. We have them but we don’t know that we have them, else we are omniscient. God is glorified, even in blind spots.

    Invisibility I think is highly appropriate. I don’t know your meaning, but invisibility is something I desire in heart as I would want all attention directed to Christ and not myself. I think of the professional servant in the mansions of the very rich. From the table they are not to be seen yet they promptly respond to every call.

    Just a few thoughts. Thankyou for sharing the Lady Jane account!

  4. October 1, 2007 5:13 pm

    You’re exactly right and that’s the way our church is: we’re there to worship God, not to celebrate ourselves. But sometimes absence makes the eye look harder… also known, I suppose, as caring for one another.

  5. heidi permalink
    October 1, 2007 5:43 pm

    Maybe you could send the magic cloak to me when you’re done with it? (smiles) I loved what you said about not being saved from grace. Perhaps one of the hardest lessons to learn: grace and hope always meets a some kind of challenge. My own instinct is to simply sink down comfortably into effortless despair.

  6. heidi permalink
    October 1, 2007 5:44 pm

    By the way I love the easy transition from the monarchy as head of the church into invisibility devices. How do you do these things?

  7. October 1, 2007 5:53 pm

    Of course I’ll send you the cloak–and the books, especially the parchments. It’s actually a cloaking device, of course. Probably it needs exotic batteries, and I’d have to go someplace scary to get them. Someone said ‘good morning’ to me when I thought I had it on! That tripped the startle reflex that I forgot to outgrow when I was five months old. So as you can see, it doesn’t work. Your instinct is far better.

    As for the transitions, it’s probably an unconscious literary legerdemain that I also forgot to outgrow.

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