Making Sense of Life's Scaffolds
Making Sense of Life's Scaffolds
Scaffolding is literally that which holds me up. It keeps me vertical when all of life conspires to make me horizontal. It prevents me from finding the cave, climbing to the mountaintop or crossing the raging rivers. Scaffolding is my man-built obstacle to falling.
There are many aspects to each individual that keeps them vertical and also absent from God’s presence – this is their scaffold. My personal scaffolds impact and can hinder my relationship with the only true and living God who died for my devotion that He may bring me His delights.
The scaffold of scaffolding is pride. Is there ever any sin not grounded in pride? (See Ez 28:7)
THE LITTLE PERSON WITHIN
When I am troubled, distressed and ill at ease, Ps 27:13-14 is how I must start each day. I am not condemned nor am I unseen and unattended.
I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD
God is not disinterested in me, He always desires to be good to me. My beliefs about Him can be the highest blessing or the deepest hindrance. It is my beliefs about me that construct my scaffolds.
Faith decay is the path from childhood to adulthood (Matt 18:1-4, 19:13-15). Adults erect their scaffolding of life and they no longer remain a little authentic person that was formed by the very hands of God - a child doesn’t even consciously know how to erect a scaffold. (I suspect that much scaffold is erected during the teenage years in the search for identity, which may well divert us from the true identity that Jesus has for us ... remember Jn 15:16!)
As an adult I am also a child of my parenting and ecclesiastical experience which may help or hinder me. I am no longer an uncomplicated child that simply honours God. It is the adult that has learned to accept an eroded faith challenged and then compromised for this world.
I carry this image of a newborn not yet knowing they are even alive, yet containing an undiluted and unpolluted view of God, formed and informed by God’s image, the frame upon which each of us is made.
The starting point of faith is pure, which is a reason why Jesus will honour the child and not despise them. It is growing up, eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil that fractures life and abrades a pure and simple faith.
Children in fact do not know not to believe, disbelief is in fact a learned activity. Children are (or at least should be) free from the hubris of religion, the reach of the scholar and the rejection of the pharisaic, for they do not know that man’s faith binds.
In the unformed character, the developing body, the young heart of goodwill, the innocence of faith and an un-understood world lays the authentic child/person, scaffold free. Here there is no grasping and striving (usually) just a joyful abundance of a faithful naivety.
The faithful qualities of the child – openness, trusting dependence, playfulness, simplicity, sensitivity to feelings ... the un-self-consciousness of the child keeps them from morbid introspection, endless self-analysis and the fatal narcissism of spiritual perfectionism ... (P 94 ‘Abba’s Child’ – Brennan Manning. In this quote Manning has described what a scaffold free life looks like.)#
Adults audit life, mask feelings, examine relationships and promote desirable self-images to present to their fellow man. Yet within the child and before God no man can wear a mask, no false self that escorts him through life will survive.
The unspoiled, unsullied, unpolluted child needs to triumph today if I am ever to gain the freedom from the restricting scaffolding of a yesterday I decided to protect myself in (possibly with very good reason). The inhibitions of the spirit and the pursuing of the flesh are among my scaffolds.
In Gen 32 a broken, tearful and finally an honest, uninhibited Jacob wrestles tenaciously with God across the Jabbok for blessing. Now grappling at God and not goods, he admits his true self and only then finally finds favor. Jacob no longer has to pretend to be another (see Gen 27) in the hope of receiving blessing. He gives his real name to his divine opponent, and receives divine favour.
There are few blessings that permeate scaffold; in fact scaffolds are only barriers to blessing. In being your created-self alone, goodness is received. Finally the child that learned self-protection, but has released it is no longer the father to the man.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 18:1-4)
To gaze into a child’s soul is to encounter a radiant humility, a pure trust and an unadulterated innocence that knows no pretence. There is just the self-abandonment of absent inhibition that can be completely led to slaughter or salvation.
In Mark 10:38-42 a frenetic Martha acted with the clarity of a well scaffolded adult, while Mary sat with the fresh openness, even the distraction of a child at the feet of Jesus. Who received divine honor?
What I have been made for is not how I have made myself. From pain my highest pleasures are found, for it is in pain before the Lord that the adult scaffold is stripped away and authentic child is revealed.
A child has no past and accepts life with a blind joy. His peers are his friends and his father trustworthy. His emotions are an un-decayed responsiveness. He beams at delight and scowls at disappointment. Unfettered and uncluttered the authentic child is always present when the heart is very young.
It is not until I take hold of my self-protective sinfulness, that I can grip what I have become. It is only then I will be introduced to who I can truly be. This is the road less travelled for those who erect scaffold, yet it is also the Highway to Heaven for the willing who walk it.
# Abba's Child - Brennan Manning, Pub = NAVPRESS 2002 Colorado Springs