“And at last, in its curved and imperceptible fall, the sun sank low, and from glowing white changed to a dull red without rays and without heat, as if about to go out suddenly, stricken to death by the touch of that gloom brooding over a crowd of men.” — Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad, Writing about London
I call Jeremy my friend. Our relationship began with a ten hour car ride home from a retreat. I lead a group. He was the guitar player. On the ride he gave me one his CDs and talked missions. In it all I saw his heart and when he and Jessica left for Turkey, Meg and I prayerfully decided to give monthly.
Each year things changed for the Courtneys. Departing from Turkey for Iraq. Moving from converting Muslims to healing hearts (literally). Leaving one mission agency to create Preemptive Love.
But at each step of the journey — through blogs and occasional personal emails — we continued to see their heart. So we kept giving.
In so many ways, sitting safely at home, I saw the Courtneys journeying into the heart of darkness. From safety of the US into war-torn Iraq.
The brilliance of Joseph Conrad’s book is that the journey into the heart of darkness is also a discovery of the place left behind. The reader’s expectation is that the heart of darkness will be revealed at the end of the steamboat ride – in the center of Africa. But the revelation is the place left behind, while so different, is the same. London, “the greatest town on earth”, is also the heart of darkness.
I just finished Jeremy’s second book, Love Anyway. It is raw and honest. A journey. One you should not start unless you plan to finish. At times it is gut-wrenching. He honestly reveals his own breaking. Piecing back together, he is not the same as he began. In his journey, we discover our own brokenness. The systems of this world — whether in America or Iraq — pit us against one another. They divide humanity into us and them. Creating enemies. And how we treat enemies reveals our heart of darkness.
We have a tendency to argue about which system is the least bad. And I easily join this discussion. Some are better than others… but all these systems – that control by creating outsiders – are the heart of darkness. We need a new heart.
Jeremy does not give us the exact answer (is it this religious thought or that system of government). Instead he leaves us with the essential question. He reveals darkness and asks, “what now?”
Jeremy’s words reveal something the world already knows. Look around. The structures of yesterday are breaking down. From politics to the workplace. And it is true in the church. Some take the temptation to grab the glue and piece everything back together like it once was. But that will leave us stuck in darkness. The shaking of our foundation is an opportunity to find the heart which lights the way forward. The way has been modeled by the Courtneys.
But if we had been wise, we could have seen the way was already modeled. “I am the way, the truth, the life.” Do not turn this way into a theology of church traditions. It is not the way of power, of one over another. It is the way of Jesus, the truth of Jesus, the life of Jesus.
Where do you expect to meet Jesus? By keeping the right company? Or finding the right theology? Where will you find him, only at the cross.
At the cross we discover all people are the same. Children whom God loves. No matter what they have done, they are loved anyway. This is the light of the way of Jesus. It is dangerous (as Jesus and the Courtneys demonstrate!), but it is the heart of light that will overcome the darkness.
4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. — John 1:4-5