One plus side to having had mono for a month and a half, and being home for half that time, is that I've had plenty of time to think. While that hasn't corresponded to increased blogging output, thanks to my general fatigue, it has corresponded to opportunity for reflection.
Reflection is a rarity in American culture. Whether because of the frenetic pace of our days or because of our fear of confronting the difficult inner world we inevitably face when we do pause and consider, we avoid reflection like, well... mono.
Some of the great men of the faith—men I deeply admire and would like to imitate in many regards—were sick for much of their lives. Hudson Taylor, one of the great missionaries of the last several centuries, spent many months lying ill in his bed. In the meantime, he worked feverishly (pun intended) on his correspondence and his encouragement of others. John Calvin was beset by an incredible amount of physical agony, and yet was one of the most prolific (and powerfully productive) Christian writers in history... even while he pastored a church and helped lead the Reformation. Obviously, these were men of extraordinary gifting and calling. Yet they also chose how to spend every day. They chose whether to work through their sickness and pain. They chose to honor God with every breath.
The doctor prescribed rest, so I don't feel bad for simply having rested. Yet as I had a good deal of time and silence in which to think this afternoon, I recognized that it's quite possible to take the doctor's orders as an excuse. There are many things I could not do during these past weeks... but there are other things I could do that I have not done.
And so I see highlighted again one of the quiet struggles of my life, spiritual and otherwise. Sometimes, I am lazy.
Where does it show up? In my walk with God, in leading my wife, even at work. When there is something I do not want to do, or something that bores me, I can very easily tend toward laziness. Worse, I can fake diligence quite well—I can do my work, make a show of godly leadership, and memorize a great deal of Scripture. But these external things are not always reality. Sometimes they're a show, a façade over a layer of quiet lethargy that simply does not care.
There is something to be said for doing what we do not want to do, but this isn't that. This is giving every appearance of wholehearted, diligent work, while quietly hating it and wanting not to do it. It's laziness of the heart and frankly, I think that the quiet, internal variety is as bad as (or worse than) the external. External laziness has obvious consequences. Internal laziness simply deadens the soul.
It is good that I go on doing what I ought despite my heart's condition, but it is bad when I do it for any reason other than loving obedience to God. The same is true not only here but in every aspect of life. The Pharisees of Jesus' day were far more morally upright than any of us can hope to be, judging by deeds alone. But in their hearts, they were just whitewashed tombs. A sepulcher is no less full of death because it has a pretty covering.
Dealing with sin means dealing with these ugly internal realities. We must hold them up to the light of the word of God and let his moral beauty and holiness show our moral ugliness and unrighteousness for what they are. Then, when we see our sin for what it is—disgusting, evil, and deeply offensive to God—we can begin to hate it. We can also, finally, turn to God and call on him to sanctify us. More, we can be confident that he will deliver us from sin: justice demands it.
Thank God for mono!