Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Diamonds In The Rough (2008) "Crossroads"

[reprinted as written by Avenged Sevenfold]
As performed by A7X

I've been traveling for so long
so lost till I stumbled upon
two roads in front of me, I had to take my time
to the right I could see a church
I took a step in that direction first
but to the left there was a watering hole
where they were whiskey drunk
and now that's where I wanna pray

The fire down here goes on and on

If I was perfect then this would be easy
Either road is plausible on both I could drown
I walk through the center with no rules to guide me
I realize it's difficult but now I can see

There's gotta be another way to go,
a way that's much more feasible
A combination of all these lives,
a central path without choosing a side
I make decisions one at a time
and no I never say I'm always right
I'm confident that when I stand on my own
you'll see the truest form of a man when I'm shining through

The fire down here goes on and on

If I was perfect then this would be easy
Either road is plausible on both I could drown
I walk through the center with no rules to guide me
I realize it's difficult but now I can see

Oh, I hear them now
all the religious rhymes
(Anger I see)
(Anger I see)
(Anger I see now)

The left isn't better
it's just more of the same
condemning all these people for what they believe
I'll climb to the top of their mountain again

No harness up to save me this way
and the closer to the top I get
the more they take aim
but I'm not you

I may not be perfect but I've always been true
I may not be worthy in your eyes
Climb up from the bottom for the last time,
the last one, the last one, the last time

If I was perfect then this would be easy
Either road is plausible on both I could drown
I walk through the center with no rules to guide me
I realize it's difficult but now I can see

"[On] the right (right hand of god, also the right politically tends to be more religious), there's a church. He went that way first. (Usually when we're younger we tend to believe what we are told so we follow down the path of blind belief first.

"[On] the left (the left is traditionally a symbol of the devil, the opposite of god, left handed people used to be made to do things w/ their right hand b/c of this): "The left isn't better, condemning all these people for what they believe" - the road of the athiest, many judge religious ppl for their beliefs.

"'No one is going to save me this way' (there is no 'salvation' on this road.)

"'If I was perfect then this would be easy," (pretty obvious that if he was perfect then he would just know what path to choose)

"''Either road is plausible on both I could drown' (on either road he could get screwed if it's the wrong one)

"'I walked through the center with no rules to guide me' (he's chosen the path of the agnostic in the end)"
[I'm indebted for these thoughts from an A7X fan ]

Choosing the middle road is usually viewed as the wise option: "moderation" and "tolerance." But is it really the wise choice? You and I can empathize with the poet's dilemna. On the one side he sees religious bigotry, on the other side he sees liberal bigotry. Excesses from both, just different kinds. Surely the moderate middle seems the best approach.

The poet does condition the path he takes by saying, "I make decisions one at a time," and that's the wisest statement in the whole piece. You and I must choose what we believe, and therefrom what we will do, one issue at a time. Everyone needs wisdom, and Jesus' younger brother James addressed that need in his letter to some believers,

If any of you need wisdom, you should ask God, and it will be given to you. God is generous and won't correct you for asking. But when you ask for something, you must have faith and not doubt. Anyone who doubts is like an ocean wave tossed around in a storm. If you are that kind of person, you can't make up your mind, and you surely can't be trusted. So don't expect the Lord to give you anything at all.

It’s always right to pray for wisdom, God may not give you all the answers you’d like, but He will always give you wisdom – except when you ask with this inner wavering. Wavering is a vacillation between one thing and another. The word James used means “double-minded,” literally “two-souled.”

That double mindedness is a lack of faith, doubting God’s reality, His character, not trusting Him, not believing He has enough love, or enough power, or enough motivation to work this all out for your good.

James called such a person “unstable,” restless and inconsistent. Lack of faith is instability, being driven and tossed around by adversity. Faith is stability, steadiness in crises and turmoil. Faith is complete trust in God’s character, love, power, and pure motives. Faith trusts all of God’s word.

Without faith, it’s impossible to please God. In fact throughout the Bible an understanding is developed that says everything you and I do without faith is sin - missing the mark of purity, perfection and holiness. Faith is the channel through which all God's blessings come to us. You and I have to ask in faith, expecting God to give wisdom, good judgment, insight and discernment.

And the fact is, as the poet points out, you and I are faced with the dilemma of choosing one way, the world's sytem, or another way, God's system, all the time as we make decisions in life. Which way represents wisdom, which way foolishness? Both can look pretty bad because the whole planet's broken, corrupted, fallen. People are people the world over; even Christians, or any religious person from any kind of religion that promotes love and kindness, and goodness, is going to do it wrong sometimes.

James talked about the fact that we face trials all the time, but he was writing specifically to those who already had put their faith in Jesus,

My friends, he said, Be glad, even if you have a lot of trouble. You know that you learn to endure by having your faith tested. But you must learn to endure everything, so that you will be completely mature and not lacking in anything.

Expect trials. Expect it to be hard to make a wise decision, then stick to it. Trials come in all shapes and sizes, and part of the variety is that they often come when you least expect it. You and I tend to rejoice when we escape trials, when we can get rid of the suffering.

And James didn’t mean we’re supposed to enjoy suffering, or “grin and bear it,” or pretend like this is fine, or act happy about tragedy and sorrow and pain. The joy in faith is resting assured that God is in control, and that adversity has come from His loving hand, to build us up in His strength. Faith rejoices in adversity because ultimately it makes you strong.

What makes faith grow? James offers two ways - the first is through adversity itself. It’s like a stress test, pushing you and me up to and beyond our limits, so that you will recognize your dependence on God, and call on Him for help. Adversity is designed to produce endurance in your life and mine, so that our faith will become complete, mature, lacking nothing.

You and I can deceive ourselves about ourselves by thinking of ourselves as basically okay. If we can just get rid of a couple of big ticket sins in our lives then we’ll be in good shape, then we can coast. Yes, I might admit that I need Jesus to forgive my sins, but I’ll think my life doesn’t need any radical change. The truth is, the entire Christian life is a process of:
(1) Recognizing what you and I lack, we’re not basically okay, we need total, radical, transforming change in every possible way, and
(2) Asking for and receiving God’s grace to supply every need. This process of change and growth won’t be completed in this life, it’s always ongoing, no breaks, there will never be any coasting.

The second way James offers is asking God for wisdom then using it.

There’s an important lesson here, about suffering, prayer, and faith. God is not obligated to deliver you and me from suffering, if we simply have enough faith. When you ask God to take the pain away, or to relieve the situation, or in any way to remove or undo the crisis, and He doesn’t, it’s not a question of you lacking faith. What you and I call unanswered prayer is often God saying no to something you want but is not right for you. A lack of faith is what keeps you and me from wisdom, not from deliverance from adversity.

But what about the two roads the poet sings about, right? Is it really the religious right versus the godless left? Is it really the buttoned-up puritans versus the party hearties?

About four or five thousand years ago there was a famous general named Joshua. When he wrote his autobiogrpahy, he described an early battle in which he was waiting for some seriously needed help from God. He was sweating it out in the trenches when a stranger showed up,

[Joshua] looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, "Are you for us [one path] or for our enemies?" [the other path]

"Neither," he replied, "but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come." Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, "What message does my Lord have for his servant?"

The commander of the LORD's army replied, "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so.

The middle road of moderation and tolerance is still not the road of wisdom. It's the way of faith that actually navigates between and winds in and through the other paths of life. Ask God for wisdom and believe that He will not only give it to you, but He'll give you the resources you need to follow through with it, actually applying it. One issue at a time, one trial at time; sometimes you'll feel like the only person taking the path you're on, but don't worry. God's way is holy ground.

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