10 minutes ago, I was in bed trying to fall asleep.
I couldn’t though. Thoughts were running through my head, and before long, I felt it right that I get them down…
I understand that God intends for us to enjoy his creation and the blessings that he has provided with. I don’t understand how that is worked out with so much of the needless suffering and pain on this planet.
What is it that makes me think that it’s right for me to spend money on something that I don’t need or waste time when right now… right now… there are people dying and people who would like to be dead who shouldn’t be. If that geographic separation were gone, would I still feel the same way? If the emaciated child or person with a limb blown off were right next to me, would the sense of urgency change? Do I have to be able to hear their cries with my own ears for it to be real?!
Because that’s what my life shows…
And I very well know that these problems are not absent from our own communities. Desperate needs are all around us… The poor, the weary, the weak, the tired, the suffering, the downtrodden, the abandoned, the oppressed, the afflicted, the blamed, the forgotten, the destitute, the sick- …Jesus…
And what am I doing about it? Enough? I don’t think so! But what is enough?!
If we ever get to the point where we actually are pouring out ourselves for others, at what point do we stop? When do we begin to worry about getting burnt out? Or do we even begin to worry? Can we actually do anything through God’s renewing strength? Should our priority be our own comfort? Our own pleasure? Our own gain?
But what are our lives saying?
A few weeks ago I had a really good conversation with some friends at school. Out of the blue, as we were eating, one of them asked about gluttony… The conversation went in the right direction and we were asking and thinking and trying to work this all out… and… it was right. I felt as if God had used that instance to rip me back into the reality that we live in but we so rarely acknowledge and even less often act upon!
And we asked all of the right questions and felt the stirring in our hearts and experienced that closer bond that is forged when multiple persons move towards God-
But then we forgot about it.
I mean, sure, we remembered the conversation. But that passion subsided. The urgency was lost… And I speak for myself in saying that I lived, and lived for myself, and in that time, much less was done than what I could have done.
I feel like a right heart and so many aspects of this culture are fundamentally at odds with each other. Yet I want to have both. I want to float through life and do good things every once in a while and look out for number one (myself) and avoid stress, strain and conflict. I feel like that self-centered philosophy represents the general consensus of much of the church today. But it’s so ingrained in me. Painful to uproot. It sounds like something that still needs to be put to death.
I don’t know how I work this out. I don’t know what I am to do. I know that when I do pursue these things, I do get tired. I do feel weak. I do feel stupid when the desire subsides a week later and that person who talked all about passion becomes that person who figured out that he shouldn’t stick his neck out.
But that weakness may be what I’m intended for.
Brokenness, not pride.
Dependence, not self-reliance.
Do I even care about these problems though? Do I care enough to suffer- to give- to truly sacrifice?
Because I make myself perfectly comfortable in this culture which absolutely perpetuates so many of these problems. I don’t speak up when I could or live out when I should. My soul is willing, but my flesh is not. But every time I walk by someone and don’t love them and everytime I fail to do what I know that I should have done, my heart grows more and more callous.
And I’m trying to break that. But I can’t do it myself.
What does it even look like? Is writing this going to make me feel like I’ve done my part?
Why do I even think that I am to give a part rather than nothing? Rather than the whole?
I just think we’re failing to do what we’re supposed to do and it’s way too easy to ignore that. I mean, you hear it ALL the time- what if we actually lived this junk out? What kind of world would that create? How would we feel? Emotionally, physically, spiritually?
Weak? Tired? Broken? Contrite? Meek?
Are our prayers obligations and mumbles, or are they cries and authentic calls to God?
When we worship corporately, are we singing to make ourselves feel good? To please those standing next to us? Or are we baring our hearts and lives before our creator and truly communing with Him whether we may feel like it or not?
In different settings it is said that we as humans don’t always act according to our beliefs. I don’t think this is true though. I think every action that we take and every decision is based on whatever belief is overarching at that moment.
And sometimes I believe that the person isn’t worth it. Sometimes I believe that the actions aren’t worth the potential embarrassment. It’s not worth the time. It’s not worth the money. It’s not worth the effort… So on and so forth.
Why do I believe those things? Why do I not live according to certain things that I say that I believe? Simply because it’s hard?
I think that’s what truly needs to be dealt with…
Because we’re (debateably) only living once and we should be living authentic, genuine lives with authentic, genuine meaning and to do that we need find authentic, genuine truth and authentic, genuine purpose.
That should be priority.
I’ve written too much.
I know that tomorrow I’m going to live selfishly. But I pray that God would break my heart and break my pride and drive me towards doing that which He desires me to do. I pray that He would allow me to be intensely aware of His presence. I pray that I would not use this as an excuse to absolve myself from personal responsibility, but anything right, anything good is only going to a product of alignment with God’s will which is God’s doing… I pray for humility, conviction, steadfastness, strength, hope, patience- the whole gamut.
And if anyone is willing to keep me accountable, please do. I’ll do likewise if anyone would like…
Sorry to use Listener again, but this-
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
And of course, at this point the thought arises- “Maybe I’m supposed to leave school!” And I just smile…
In all honesty, I feel like this is one of the best, if not the best, things to come out of these recent debates.
“…And you will see life in my eyes…
And life will look back at you and hope to see the same.”
One of the most frustrating thing in the world: dealing with an elderly person who continually refuses to do what is good for them. Such a mix of feelings- impatience, anger, frustration, sadness… Norma is a good woman, but man… she puts me and her own body through Hell sometimes. Prayer would be appreciated.
Another trust situation. Several times this week I’ve felt as if God was trying to get me to give things up to Him. Most times I did. None of the times were easy and there absolutely was kickback. Kickback that says, “I told you so. Should have taken the easier way.” And then time brings understanding of the situation and I find myself better for my inadequacies and resignment.
On another note- experienced much encouragement from spending time with people again this past week. On one particular evening, I found in my midst a fresh set of eyes, a mind awake and a heart that seems to follow suit- it was wonderful and humbling to encounter. Refreshing, to say the least…
Today I also was blessed by an opportunity to spend time with a great couple. I was encouraged by their hearts and stories, particularly that of how their lives had intersected. And of course, one happens to be Jim Wallis’ nephew. Crazy…
I really shouldn’t even get into specifics. I’ve been very fortunate with the people that I’ve encountered in my life. That’s absolutely been true of Spring Arbor.
In my head:
“Fallen man has an exasperating genius whose chief contradiction is to be seen in his ability to change his environment without changing himself.”
-Paul S. Rees, Don’t Sleep Through the Revolution
Something I’ve been thinking about lately: how John 15:13, 1 John 3:16 and some of Paul’s writings (specifically those on marriage found in places like 1 Corinthians 7:8) may come to be viewed by Christians in the future especially in light of writings such as Garret Hardin’s Lifeboat Ethics article and this: http://www.academia.edu/741320/Recovering_the_Christian_Practice_of_Dying_A_Response_to_Stanley_Hauerwas_Finite_Care_in_a_World_of_Infinite_Need_Galley_Proof_. (By no means is Hardin writing from the same perspective of Cramer, Hauerwas or Yoder, but their words seem to elicit similar thought-processes and responses, in my mind at least.)
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 (NIV)
Lastly, thanks much Mom, Dad and Tash for the picture, quinoa, Bolivian tea and Brazilian chocolate! Always fantastic 🙂
Onwards and upwards,
This evening I made some hot chocolate.
Not that powdered stuff but Ghirardelli cocoa with organic turbinado sugar.
As I drank that hot chocolate, one thing kept flowing through my head and simultaneously pulling at that thing in my chest.
It didn’t have anything to do with that time I tried the Ahwahnee’s signature Firefall, hot chocolate after Christmas-caroling in West Michigan or even that of drinking Ovaltine out of sippy cups on our faux-grass carpet in Ohio.
I kept thinking about my Dad.
This is him. I think he’s the best.
He’s still in Bolivia and I miss him a ton.
This past year, at one point during my visit, my Dad and I were able to fly to Sucre for a few days. It was a gift for both of our birthdays since they’re relatively close together. Sucre is an old, stereotypical colonial city in Bolivia with white-washed walls, ornate government buildings and the typically massive catholic church. It’s kind of the capital, but not quite.
It was such a nice trip. The city was extremely peaceful. The students and the teachers were protesting and as a result, roadblocks had emptied the area of pretty much all traffic for the duration of our stay. Dad and I walked all over the place and enjoyed the different restaurants and cafes in the area. We spent a lot of time relaxing at our hostel and I got to do quite a bit of reading. It was great. We simply did whatever we felt like. Such a nice, relaxing break… It may not sound too exciting but, man, it was living…
I really enjoyed the time there. I really enjoyed the time with my Dad.
At one point we made it to Para Ti, a chocolate shop that is one of Sucre’s biggest draws. As we walked in and looked at the menu, an older man who I’m guessing was German sitting at one of the little booths told us in broken English something to the effect of: “I haven’t had real hot cocoa like this since the 1950s”.
We sat there and ordered some of these famous chocolate drinks and really took our time savoring them as well as the moment itself. That’s something that Dad has passed on to me. That of appreciating moments, atmosphere, ambience…
(Our Hostel’s Courtyard)
So that’s what I’m thinking about right now…
I’m so thankful for him. I miss him very much. I hope all is well in SC.
Beautifully hued autumn leaves and trees, Amish and traditional farming communities and family-owned damaged good grocery stores go wonderfully together. On a whim, between classes, I ended up finding all three. I felt like I was back in Delaware.
There we go again… More things to be thankful for.
Also- Prayers asking God to mold you… make you reliant on Him, etc- those can be so painful. But they’re good for humility and that broken, contrite heart. That’s been a real lesson to me lately. It isn’t the same at all but it feels a bit similar to The Antler’s album “Hospice”. Much pain, much sorrow, much thankfulness, much love.
Last nights debate? “Every politician wants you to believe he was born in a log cabin he built himself.” That about sums it up. I felt bad for Jim.