In one story of Camelot, an enemy spews out faint praise saying, “It is a nice dream… for some.” The king responds, “No vision can be right for some which is not right for all.” The power of the round table centered upon an ideal, not only upon its steward, Arthur.
Like Camelot’s enemy, I once considered push-back and skepticism as a path to authenticity. I had beliefs, but I thought they should serve me, not the other way around. I viewed confident, shared faith as a nice dream, for some. A wake-up call was just around the corner.
That wake-up call began with the loss of someone close to me. If home is where the heart is, then grief can be disorienting. Especially if it catches you wandering, this kind of loss will surface the need to find the heart’s true home. As another ancient king noted: “God has set eternity in the human heart” (Eccl. 3:11). Grief made me admit: there is a God and it’s not me.
Some people might say, “I am glad faith helped him, but I’ve not much use for it.” Such faint praise echoes Camelot’s enemy. It stands over an ideal with an air of sophistication that smacks of bitterness. From time to time I’ll hear someone say, “A friend of mine struggles with faith because he’s so smart.” Nonsense. Faith requires more from the intellect, not less. It stretches us to think even bigger thoughts. Faith calls us to surrender the will, not the brain.
Being the captain of your own soul can feel like freedom. But I discovered that you can have the freedom of the sea only if you become a slave to the compass. Once upon a time scripture became my compass. Its story no longer registered as just some collection of distant events. The cross of Christ seemed part of my own personal history, a place of exchange of my worst for His best. I was no longer ashamed to speak the name of Jesus, because I recognized in him God’s character as a true lover and captain of souls.
Each of us must come to terms with this battle of wills over whose universe it is. Not everyone may face the same confrontation I had in the wake of personal loss. But grief is an appropriate word for everyone when it comes to motivating a change of heart and surrender of will. Honest grief over the condition of one’s soul opens us up to the grace of God.
Christmas reminds us that God’s message of grace came wrapped in a person. Like Camelot, it’s a story of an ideal kingdom and a servant king. That dream can become a personal reality when we abdicate a particular throne. As an old carol suggests:
“May every heart prepare Him room.”