Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Quiet Day

It's a quiet day.

I love quiet days. They're slow, simple, and restful, even in the midst of reality (homework and the like).

A friend and I were driving around yesterday and we saw a homeless man. I have always been forewarned by people to not give money to "those" people based on the assumption that most homeless people will use that money to go buy more alcohol. You know what I think. So what?

I wonder how many of the people there the day Jesus fed the 5,000 that went back to their normal un-godly lives after experiencing that. I'm betting a bunch. Jesus wasn't trying to talk people into Him. He didn't need to.

All we can do is all we can do. And all I can do is hand that dude a fiver and let him know he is loved and not forgotten. What he does with that is his. And that doesn't change my view of him. God loves the alcoholic homeless people like He loves the suburban housewife like He loves the self-righteous, sarcastic, confused mess that is myself.

"The purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith."
 -1 Timothy 1:5

Okay. I had a bunch of other stuff written down before, but that was mine and then I read this and realized the Lord is much smarter than I.

When I write for myself it is bitter, wordy, and often wrong. But when I write out of Truth, it is restful.

Love from a pure heart. I don't do that. How often is what we do based upon some hidden agenda? Whether it be stuff, ego, or "Christian duty."

What is pure love?  

I could recite 1 Corinthians 13 to you. But I would probably vomit from the cliche-ness of it if I did. I think pure love is just what it says. Pure. Outside of ourselves. Love has nothing to do with me and everything to do with what is best or good for the other person/people. And not really caring if anyone notices. Recently I read Francine Rivers Mark of the Lion series. And I have never seen love so beautifully portrayed in a book. The heroine of the story didn't think of herself. Ever. It was always about the good of others and being Christ to them. 

Christ was so familiar to her, because she made that her priority. Her natural self was so evident to her because she knew definitively who Christ was in her. She saw the gap. 

I fool myself all the time into thinking that what I'm doing is Christ-like. I justify my actions because I don't have a pure heart. That is me. That is everyone. But what if I asked Christ to widen the gap between what I saw as right and what was right? Not that Satan doesn't create a facade of rightness in my justification. But maybe if I just asked God what He thought of things instead of building up walks of rationale for everything I thought or did. What if I asked for a gentler spirit to hear what He had for me rather than proving myself through my ability to know? What if I was more about Christ than me? 

To be honest, I don't even know how to do that. I am so self-consumed, so blocked off by the reality I choose to live in, so "protected" by my own basis of reason that I don't know how. But man, God wants to break through. And He will, even despite myself. How beautiful is that?

Maybe if I rest in how pure His love is for me, that will rub off. Maybe if I stopped telling Him how to show up and let Him be where He wanted to be then I wouldn't feel the need to prove myself to everyone else. 

Keep asking questions.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

my new favorite word

Please excuse my absence. I've sat down every day this week to write and it just hasn't happened. Call that what you want.

I tend to pull into extremes sometimes. Lately it's been with Christianity. I've been seeing so much stuff that I hate, and so I just go the complete other direction and have been avoiding it all. It's easier that way.

But the truth of the matter is that I need God. Like NEED Him need Him. I'm just scared of what He's going to ask of me, and even more scared that I can't do it, or won't choose to. It's easier to not ask and not fail. I scream grace to failure all the time, when I'm just a big ole' baby who won't risk anything for Truth. Sad right?

This last weekend was a hard one. The scariness of pain hit me like a ton of bricks. I lost it hearing about   where some people I love are at. I just couldn't handle the reality of the weight of what they are dealing with. It was scary.

Even scarier, I realized that the god I've always known just can't handle that stuff. No wonder it freaked me out.

I think what I've come to see as True these past few months have been a major part of redeeming that. God is proving that He isn't that god. That He would kick that god's butt in a millisecond.

Last week at Redeemer, Deuteronomy was the Pentateuchal book of choice. All week I've been coming back to so many things said. Two ideas he suggested especially.

Ambivalence. He told the story from the documentary of a woman named Susanna Kaysen. In this documentary, Kaysen is in a mental rehabilitation center and is talking to her counselor and Kaysen tells the counselor her new favorite word is ambivalence. When asked what the word meant, she replied, "I don't care." Her counselor said, "now if it's going to be your new favorite word then you need to know what it means." Kaysen responded, "No, it means I don't care." Then the counselor went on to explain that it meant the opposite. Ambivalence is having two deep passions or longings that contradict each other.

My pastor continued to talk about how we have fragmented hearts. They are ambivalent. Constantly warring against two contradictory ideas. How we live life, and loving God. We choose either/or and have no concept of what it means loving God to mean really living.

Ambivalent is my new favorite word too Susanna. It is the essence of what these few months have been for me. Contradicting ideas surrounding me. What is really true? How do I find God surrounded by such simple faith? Who was I created to be? Who really is God? What does it mean to need God? Where does my passion to create fit in all this? I'm confused. My friend has described it as being stuck in a giant field. And never being able to find anything outside of this field. Sometimes I feel so trapped within ambivalence. I just pray that some day I'll land in Truth. May God show up in this and prove Himself. I need Him to.

Point two (a quote he read): "Church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints." My pastor took it a step further to say he is fearful that Redeemer is becoming a museum for sinners. Ouch. I know I've been SO so stuck on grace, and the lack of it in the church,  that I've seemed to swing too far to the other side and have disregarded the whole concept of redemption. I don't really know what that looks like.

I am ambivalent with the concept of a God that loves, redeems, is gracious, and changes and a god who wants me to read the bible, do right, and pray all the time. The latter aren't bad things, but I've got a pretty bad taste in my mouth for the connotation those hold for me I'll be honest.

I've been bitter. A lot lately. It's exhausting, but cynicism has become  close friend. My mom has always told me if God is who He says He is, then He will be able to prove Himself in the hard questions. And through my bitterness. I want God so badly. The real one. Not a platitude or a safety net. He's there, I know it, but I can't say I've found Him completely yet. I'm looking though.

I'm not saying I'm not a Christian. Hear me, I love Christ. Which is why I believe my perspective is being drastically shifted. It's Him.

I'm ending with a Timothy Keller quote read this last sunday. It made sense.

God is great, so we don't have to be in control. God is glorious, so we don't have to fear others. God is good, so we don't have to look elsewhere for comfort or approval. And God is gracious so we don't have to prove ourselves.

I want that.