Monday, March 30, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
This was an email I sent to a friend today...I only post it cause I think it may strike a fairly universal chord out there. You ever felt alone only to find out you're in the 99 percentile? I have...
I think you think you're more unique in your feelings than you are. This email you sent me is probably the sentiments of the majority of people that pile into church each weekend. I think alot of people long for more than what they're experiencing, but don't know how to actualize their dreams. I think people in general are lonely as all get out...starving for friendships, but immobilized as to how to initiate something meaningful. Insecurities and disappointments and failures and abandonment from the past all contribute to a standoffish faith with standoffish friendships. I know, for me, friendship is always a constant struggle. I have deep feelings and probably a heightened set of expectations and longings as it relates to friendship that make me wrestle with questions of whether I'll even have a best friends that I can completely be myself with and share similar longings and enjoyments. But I think this is common to man as I listen to the hearts of so many...we just all think we're alone.
I know that you think you're an outsider and that so many others are insiders. But again, I think that is a perception more than a reality. Most people feel like outsiders, looking from the outside in on everyone else's apparent joy and relaxation and fulfillment. But the person they are looking at is feeling like they, too, are standing on the outside wishing for more, but settling for less. It's really a perception, perspective issue in my opinion and until we know the truth of what God sees and feels and wants and commands...we all will continue to feel tentative and tense about the state of life and our state of being and state of mind in the midst of it.
I've heard the phrase...let life come to you...but I think this is a misnomer. You must go after life again. It will not come to you. People will not come to you. Chances are, they will not jump first or talk first or ask first or want first....you will have to go after life with all you got or you will sink deeper into the slough of despond and the isolation that comes with it. You have to happen to life...not wait for life to happen to you. It is all around you beckoning you to take the risk again. And it is a risk...you have been hurt. Hurt by your dad, your friends, your church, your family...heck, probably even your wife and kids if the truth be known. It's impossible to go through life and not sustain injury from each of these parties...but God can resurrect. Read 2 Cor. 1:8-11...he can raise the dead and deliver.
I know that..because he has to do that every day and every week for me. I have choices to back away and just let go...or press in and press on. It's not easy...it's really hard. The hurt reminds me of the risk. But the risk reminds me of the reward. And the reward reminds me of the release. And that is what I experience when I go after life...release. A release from the bonds that hold me back and hold me down. I want this for you.
This is what I'm praying for today.
for myself, for you...
nothing less will do.
And so the story goes...and the goings on of each life represent the goings on of just about every life. I can do nothing but fearfully and fearlessly tell the ongoing story, for within its nuanced narrative are found the colors and whispers and textures of God. And his story is something beautiful...
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
It’s my day off. A day to turn off and go off. A day that says, “Off is good. On is bad”. A counterintuitive day that declares war against all that speaks of production, productivity and cranking out product. A Sabbath from busyness and business. A respite, an oasis, a refuge.
But dang is it hard to really “take” a day off. It’s this gift that is being handed to me that I don’t want to take for some reason. I don’t want to reach out, grab it and let it have its way with me. I’m starting to learn why.
I’ve come to realize that busyness means importance inside of me. I feel important when I’m about the business of making something or making something happen. I feel significance in this mass production, a security that my identity is unquestionably useful. A validation that I am very much needed. That I’m not just matter, I matter.
I matter to life, to people, to myself. I’m important, I’m essential. Things can’t go on without me. I’m quite a catch. I’m unique in my contribution. I’m one of a kind in a world of almost 7 billion.
The funny thing is that even when I’m not doing much of anything that makes a hill of beans difference, I just keep moving “as if”. That’s what Americans do, “just keep moving, it looks like you’re important when you simply move about, the faster the better.” And so I’m a veritable pinball machine bouncing to and fro making a racket, setting off sirens and racking up points like a champ. The more frenetic and frantic the pace, the more points you get…and the more points you get, the better you are compared to someone else, and when you’re better than someone else, in our culture this makes you somebody special. Boy, do I want to be special. So special that I, unlike many others, can’t afford to take a day off. And so on and so forth.
Another wonderful thing about moving fast is that nobody, not ever you yourself, can catch “you” and ask you probing questions about the quality behind all the quantity. Your heart, your built in “quality control” mechanism, gets gagged and thrown into the internal mechanical closet, forlorn and forgotten. Quality of life is lost, as quantity becomes the barometer of success.
And it’s godless. Godlessness is different than ungodliness. It’s more insidious and undetected. It’s, by way of definition, “life without God”. . . and who actually can tell whether that’s happening these days. Ungodliness is more pronounced and far harder to hide. It’s glaring addiction or an obvious “misaction” or reaction that we can spot that from a mile away. But godlessness looks so slick, so savvy, so seductive. Unfortunately, busyness and preoccupation and multi-tasking and crowded itineraries are often applauded as a “move of God”, a “blessed life of opportunity”, an “abundant life”. It is rewarded with more hyperactivity leading to more adulation leading to counterfeit “closeness to God”. It’s because we have been led to believe that “God is always moving”. He’s always “on the move”. Really?
What about “be still and know that I am God”? Another way of saying, “Slow down and let me catch up, would ya?” What if God is “still” sometimes? What if knowing God involves being still, sitting still and staying still? What if the “rest of God”, as Mark Buchanan cleverly calls it, is found in the “rest of us”, and what if the “rest of us” is the path to the “rest of God”? We miss the rest of life when we miss the rest of us found in the rest of God. It’s that simple, it’s that profound.
How do I know that this civilization is obsessive-compulsively addicted to manic energy and performance-enhanced self-importance? It takes one to know one as they say. I’m an addict myself who goes into withdrawal given small amounts of free time with nothing to do. I get fidgety and unnerved. And my days off are spent as a stir-crazy rehabilitant trying to kick his habit. Itching my crawling skin, winding my hair into tight, wool-like circles, chewing my nails down to the cuticle, and nervously tapping my foot on the ground nursing my medically diagnosed restless legs syndrome.
Restless legs syndrome…tell me our culture hasn’t gone raving mad.
Yet here I am, fighting for the rest of God, the rest of me, the rest of life. Ironically enough, there’s no place I’d rather be…that is if I’m listening to the right voice, of many, inside my head. The rest of the voices are telling me something is falling apart without me. Those voices sound much more affirming and validating stroking my uniqueness, my importance, my worth…but they are full of hogwash. Which is the Greek word for bologna.
And so I sit still in the papoose of God’s presence. Is he enough? We’ll find out.