"O God… breathe into me something like quietness and confidence, that the lion and the lamb in me may lie down together" Ted Loder, Guerrillas of Grace
The Lion and The Lamb in me. The courageous warrior and the quiet soul. Can there be both inside this soul of mine? I can recall those Lion moments of my life - when I have roared too loud and attacked fiercely or stood as protector of my cubs. I can see my Lamb seasons as well - just being quiet and letting the world carry on around me, not taking a stand or fending for myself when I should have. Yet, I pause now to wonder… can the Lion and the Lamb and the best they both have to offer reside IN ME, together, side by side?
I'm currently preaching a series on Finding God in the Unexpected Places in our lives. The unexpected places of screw-ups, disappointments, above our heads, and in our tears. A theme is arising from these messages that in choosing to find God in these unexpected places we are also choosing to live with a tension that resides during most of our life. A tension of joy AND sorrow. Of Fear AND peace. Of disappointment AND gratefulness. Of reassurance AND uncertainty. We can choose to live with BOTH the Lion AND Lamb feelings and tensions inside of us. It is growing into life's journey with a Both/And outlook as opposed to an Either/Or.
I was first introduced theologically to this tension while continuing my graduate education and certification for Clinical Pastoral Education in order to do hospital chaplaincy work. It challenged us as clinical pastoral caregivers to help our patients and families to experience the Both/And in tragic situations. "I am saddened that my father died today AND I am comforted that he is no longer in pain." "I am angry that my child has cancer AND I am grateful God has brought me to this compassionate doctor." "I am both angry at God for this tragedy AND trusting Him to make beauty and healing arise from these ashes."
As I have continued as pastor, chaplain, and human, my understanding has grown of living in a Both/And world full of grace, forgiveness, joy, messiness, and love. How did our culture ever get to its current state of everything being Either/Or? You are either right or wrong, Republican or Democrat, healthy or sick, criminal or not, loving or hating. Life is either black or white, blessed or cursed, tragedy or triumph. Where are the stone tablets this dichotomous thinking was engraved into or the legislature that ordered us into living only in these two opposing realms?
Much of life is grey. Much of life is about living with a sense of right but understanding how the wrong gets in there. Can a person believe that abortion is murder AND believe that a young woman who has been date raped believes that is their only option? Can another believe that homosexuality was not God's ideal yet support a gay couple who is more faithful and loving than many heterosexual married couples? Or how about a card carrying Republican being accepted for siding with a Democratic president on certain issues. How did it become not okay to live in the grey?
On a more personal daily living note, in order to experience the fullness of all Jesus has to offer, we must grow into living with this Both/And tension. Paul exhorts us to "give thanks in all circumstances" as he has learned to "be content in all circumstances." We can be disappointed that this is not the life we had planned out AND trust Him to bring about His will beautifully. We can cry the tears of sorrow and loneliness AND find comfort in knowing Jesus cried out those emotions so hard that His tears turned to blood. BOTH anger at the injustices of the world AND security at the knowledge that the war has already been won can reside in our minds. Our souls can be anxious of the unknown AND peace-filled because of the presence of the Holy Spirit. We can be in the midst of a real screw-up AND see God's leading and healing occurring.
So can my Lion that roars at the abuses and violence of the world and the Lamb that lies quietly by the Shepherd reside inside me at the same time? Yep. The Tress that is courageous in public and snuggled comfortably alone with God's Word for direction do reside side by side. The confident Lion and the quiet Lamb, curled together, living internally… in an external world calling for the opposite.