The chapel at the hermitage has dismantled for a long time as the possible selling of the property is always but always going to happen “tomorrow.” But memories are good.
On the day-off yesterday I spent just a little bit of time putting out a few rounds while on my way to meal down the mountain with friendly conversation with good friends.
Trying out the different stages of the Federal Air Marshall Tactical Pistol Course was the challenge for the day. My timer only goes to 1/10 of a second increments, so I rounded off the time for each part of each stage to a shorter time to make it that much more difficult. Then, with hot barrel (that’s cheating, btw), I raced through the course itself from start to finish, getting a mere 96 out of a possible 150 points. All bullets solidly hit the target, but not all got full points. Those in the outer silhouette of QIT-97 or any line (a very solid hit in its own right) got two points, but for the inner “bottle” (a nervous system dead shot) five points were to be had. I was “in time” with all stages. 96/150=64%. Pitiful. But I love it, knowing I could improve as time goes on. If you are a F.A.M., to be able to fly you have to have 90% (135/150) and be “in-time” on all seven stages before whatever flight (pre-September 11, 2001). There lot’s of room for improvement for me. But there is real feedback on the almost autistically pedantic score sheet by which one is encouraged. I image that I must be on the spectrum somewhere…
Here’s the deal, while hope regards the future (when I’ll get 150/150 cold barrel), that hope depends on present reality, which is that there is some little bit of skill that I can, in fact, depend on, already within my muscle memory. I’m much better than I was a year ago when I first fired a pistol for the first time in my life. I have so very much ground I need to cover. I would like to get 150/150 every time, no matter the circumstances. A LEO told me to never get 100% on any qualification, never putting all bullets into the same bullet hole, because a prosecutor after a critical incident will say that a miss (Hey! It can happen to the best) that hit an innocent bystander was instead on purpose. That’s a malicious argument, but it is in fact made by the unscrupulous. I don’t have to worry about that right now. I’m such a bad shot that that would never come up.
Anyway, do the analogy. The hope we have for heaven is based on knowing by faith the realities of things unseen. We have the love of Christ. We know that is not from us, but from Him. That means everything. He’s alive. He’s with us. He wants us in heaven. And with Him, we can get 150/150 in faithfulness even in the small things while life goes on, which makes for great hope of getting to heaven, not because we are good but because He is so very good and so very kind. If we fail, there is Confession, showing us just how good and kind He is. I go to Confession a lot, as should we all. Jesus has us dead to rights, having us be killed off to ourselves so as to live only for Him, that we might carry about, as Saint Paul says, His dying for us (the glory of that self-sacrificing love) in our mortal bodies that the glory of His resurrection might be manifest (see 2 Cor 4:10).
And Jesus is deadly serious. Look at His being tortured to death to see just how deadly serious He is that we be killed off to ourselves so as to live only for him. And Jesus is a deadly shot, so to speak.
People might think this to be an untoward analogy, but those who know, know this, that the spiritual death to ourselves so as to live only for Christ Jesus is a death incomparably more painful than any other kind of physical death that we can imagine. And yet this is wrought be His love which we know as His love, which is encouraging, which gives us hope.