The Journey Forward

So much has changed in my life since the last time I used this blog. Here I am, at the cusp of another great adventure, staring into the maw of doctoral program applications, GRE preparation, and the tingling anticipation that comes with knowing that the future is entirely out of my hands.

A year ago, I was engaged to be married. I was intending to settle into a quiet life, to fade from the front lines. I thought that I had found the road God wanted me on, and that this time, the doors in front of me would stay open.

I was wrong.

And I have never been happier to be wrong.

It turns out that the old adage about telling God your plans is true. And sometimes, I think I must amuse God more than anyone else does, because I dearly love to plan, to worry, to plot, to scheme. I don’t know how to relinquish control. I fight Him every single step of the way like a nap-deprived toddler in the candy aisle. I want it. I don’t know what it is, but I want it, and I want it NOW!

But God has never let me settle for less than He desires for me. He has dragged me, kicking and screaming, through all the wrong turns I have made. God doesn’t just close doors in my life. He slams them, nails boards across them, and sticks a chair under the knob. He sends angels to lurk on the other side with tranquilizers just in case I get uppity. And He puts a big piece of spiritual cake under a neon sign in front of the door He actually wants me to go though.

I’ve never stood a chance.

And yes, I have been hurt in the process. But it was the hand that touched the hot stove that caused the burn, not the hand that pulled it away. Every ounce of suffering in my life has been because I was impatient with God, stubborn, and frankly, just plain rebellious.

I have learned something these past few months of Grad School. And I know that it’s a lesson I’m going to keep having to re-learn, but all the same, I have learned it for now: God’s Will will be done. No matter what. And this isn’t fatalism. I have the ability to choose, if only to choose the easy way or the hard way. But the Hound of Heaven is one heck of a sheepdog, and it’s probably a lot better for me if I just try to do things right the first time.

So, moving forward, I’m going to try even harder to let God lead me, and not to fight Him on every little thing just because I can.

I truly believe that He has amazing things in store, not just for me, but for every single one of you.

Let Him do His thing.

Or, you know, you could actually HELP Him do it. That’s probably a better option.

That was a nice vacation. Let’s get back on the road.

-E.G. Norton


Prophets In Our Age: How To Speak The Truth When People Don’t Want To Hear It

The harvest is plentiful. The workers are hiding in the barn. (via Golberz)

The harvest is plentiful. The workers are hiding in the barn. (via Golberz)

Well, anyone who’s been following me personally knows that I’ve had a bit of a paradigm shift in the past year or so. I’ve always been a people-pleaser. Not that I’ve ever been that great at it, but I’ve never been all that inclined to stand up for myself or what I believe in. I hate conflict. I really do.

But there are times when it really cannot be avoided. When being nice becomes the enemy of being virtuous. And when being kind is actually worse than being blunt. And this is never more true than when it comes to questions of morality and doctrine.

We are in an age of half-truths, where the greatest “virtue” is being tolerant. Ok. I’m all for treating people with respect, insofar as they are all children of a God who loves them so deeply that the human mind cannot even contain the magnitude of his sacrifice for us. This is an unbelievably powerful thing, and something that cannot be denied. We must love our fellow men with everything we have, because they are our kin.

But anyone with a large family will tell you that love doesn’t always mean being polite. Sometimes our brothers and sisters just act stupid. And it’s our job to pull them back from the brink by whatever means necessary. I’ve discussed this before, but I will say it again: to watch another person sin and to not speak up because you are afraid of being “intolerant” of their life choices is worse than merely letting them go. It is a silent nod of assent. You are not only letting them sin, but you are shoving them down the road to Perdition.

So it’s time to knock it off, and fight for what’s true and virtuous.

This is a hard thing to do. People don’t like being told that they’re committing acts of evil. They tend to react badly. This is doubly true if they are aware of this fact (having not completely drowned their consciences yet). People who know better always fight back the hardest. But we’ve got to be strong.

My dad once told me that the scariest thing he ever had to do as a corpsman in the Coast Guard was to deal with an officer going through withdrawal. My dad had to babysit him to make sure he got through it. And this man was threatening him, telling him how he was gonna get loose and elaborately describing what he’d do to my dad when he got free. Not a cozy evening, by any means.

That’s what it’s like dealing with hardened sinners. Vice is a drug that twists the human heart into something evil. And the withdrawal is terrible. I can tell you that firsthand. I have been to that place. I lived there for years. And I hated everyone who tried to show me the light. So I can tell you truly that people will resist you for telling them the truth. They will hate you. And they will make your life hell.

But we are all called to be prophets. We have a duty to our Master to proclaim His kingdom. And He never, ever said it was going to be fun. He told us that the world would despise us, because the world despised Him. We know where we stand. Now what do we do about it?

It’s this simple: we have got to suck it up and be heroes. This is no small task, given what I’ve just said. This isn’t a costume party. It’s war. And there will be casualties: mostly our pride. But to run from the fight is to lose it. And to sacrifice the kingdom for comfort is to trade all the riches of the universe for a pile of sand. It is to look into the eyes of the one who loves us above all else, who wants to spend eternity with us, and to say, “You know what? You’re great, but I’m going to go hook up with this prostitute instead. It’s less work.” Who does that? (Sadly, metaphorically, we all do. But we seriously need to knock it off. Sin is easy, but it’s no good for us.)

There is no middle ground. We must offer sin no quarter. We must be beacons of love among the lustful, truth among the deceivers  and hope among the hopeless. Ours is the land between the trenches. Our mission is to bring a lost people home. No more mincing words. Speak the truth. Consequences be damned.

Now here, a word of caution: all our actions must come from Love, for Love and Truth are one in God. Love does not mean letting sin run free. But it also means not condemning those who have not yet condemned themselves. God is Judge. We’re more like bounty hunters, bringing in those fugitive souls. It’s not our job to decide if they’re innocent or guilty. Only to make them stop running from the truth. We are to be forceful, but not violent. We are to be stalwart, but not malicious. And we must hate the sin, but the sinner we must lead with love to Love, or else the bit will cut and they will never be bent to God’s will.

It’s a difficult balance. But balance there must be, else no good can come of it. Tolerance cannot be the enemy of Truth. Truth cannot be the enemy of Love. Love and Tolerance are not the same thing. And it is in the Magisterium that we learn how to walk this tightrope.

So read your Catechism, prophets of the Lord. Read your Bible, warriors of Divine Truth. Those are your tools, given you by God. Without them, no good can come of your words.

Now get out there and get to work. There is much to do.

-E. G. Norton