"No man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it."
-C. S. Lewis
At first, I tried coming up with some witty question or “attention grabber” to set the tone of this post/blog/vomit from the heart. However, I’m over that right now and I’d rather just come out of the corner swinging on this one. Cool?
After re-listening through a few Louie Giglio podcasts today, one of the topics really got my wheels turning…not out of guilt or conviction, but mostly compassion. Granted, I have struggled with some of these issues myself…pretty heavily in the not-so-distant past.
I’m talking about the issues (commands) of “Waiting on The Lord”, “Being Still”, and “Resting in Him”. I think these are so quickly breezed past in the Bible because, at face value, they sound so pointless and easy. Stopping to even address them might make you think, “Be still? I’ve gone nowhere in years…and I’ve been waiting EXTRA patiently for God to do things in my life. Let’s dig into some real meat!”
If we dig just below the surface of these commands, we uncover a powerful set of gifts. You see, all of these require action and that action is simply leaning into God. It’s saying, “God, this life is exhausting. I have no idea what is best because everything I try doesn’t seem to work. I trust that You are in control, so take the reigns.” It’s an ACT of intentional surrender and a commitment to a personal growth process as we wait for God to lead us in different directions. As Louie describes: It’s not kicking back in the lazyboy, cracking open a beer, and saying, “Alright God, do something miraculous!” (He didn’t say beer…I added that because I enjoy it.)
But seriously…it’s not even stepping back to pray and ask God to do something. Most of the time he DOES something by giving us a heart nudge and equipping us with the right tools and strength to work on it. I love a truth that my father (general surgeon) taught me on that topic. He said, “Of course God heals people…He uses me to do it every day.” It’s amazing how God designed it that way…He gave us each gifts, then calls us to USE them (with Him) for His glory. Now don’t get me wrong, I totally believe that God can intervene miraculously and still does. He’s God and can do what He wants. However, I think God wants it to be a team effort of relationship. Clearly He’s the one pulling most of the weight, but He definitely didn’t create us so He can do things for us! We get the free will of using our actions to trust, worship, and bring Him glory through our actions. What you do reflects what you believe. What you DO reflects what you BELIEVE.
To truly experience the intimacy, peace, and joy that comes as gifts from these divine recommendations, it means you have to be logistically intentional about them. You need to “trim the fat” from your daily schedule and force yourself into quiet time of worship and communication with your creator. You need to dig up the areas of your life that need work, so that you can be shamelessly ready to be used by Him as effectively as possible. That may result in a glorifying relationship, job, finances…anything. Everything.
I believe it is one of the “battles of the flesh” we can never fully conquer in these broken bodies, but a tension we can manage as we seek and trust God’s will in our lives. For a night owl like me, it will probably always be difficult to wake up a little earlier to have some quiet time of study, prayer, and worship. But that decision itself…painfully peeling my eyelids open before my body agrees…I think that makes God say, “That’s my boy.” (with a big smile)
The reality is, this is so so difficult…especially in our culture, where we have smartphones buzzing every 7-9 seconds. It really isn’t easy to do, but honestly we CAN’T AFFORD NOT TO. Every day that goes by where we don’t make the time to Be Still, Rest in Him, and Wait on The Lord, we are robbing ourselves of the fulfillment we were created for. Life becomes some cyclical pattern of meaningless stresses, anxieties, and responsibilities.
Let’s push back against the lies of our culture that tell us the more stimulation we can cram in a day, the happier we will be. Let’s not be the ones who breeze past these gems in the Bible…let’s take hold of them and set them as the rock in which we stand on.
Let’s start the spring cleaning of waiting on The Lord. Let’s carve out the time to be still. Let’s surrender our worries and rest in Him. None of these involved doing nothing.
So, today I got to thinking about girls…crazy concept, I know. A single dude in his 20s thinking about chicks? Thinking of relationship possibilities, questioning my decisions with past relationships, or dreaming of the perfect girl in the future, I stopped myself amidst this mental tug-of-war. I started to realize how obsessive we are, in our culture, with relationships. It’s unreal. We are completely consumed by this fascination with finding or maintaining a romantic relationship with another screwed up human being.
We text/tweet/message/snapchat/like/and (fb)creep on our current options. We constantly survey the online market for potential options. We beg for attention with “selfies” and whiney single posts. And of course, for the few times we interact with REAL people…like in person…we have our heads on a swivel for any oncoming options that may stroll into our peripheral vision. Now, maybe I’m just being transparent about my issues and nobody else in the world has ever functioned this way, but I have a slight hunch that I’m not alone.
Oh, and I love this one…teenage girls (or any girl under 25) whining that they’ll never find someone and will be alone forever! You know who you are, ladies…before I go any further, just stop it. *hits nose with newspaper*
I’ve been fortunate enough to have an amazing set of parents who have added knowledge to my experience with relationships and how to make them healthier. I like to think that I have a “one up” on most people in this whole process, yet I STILL struggle with this ‘single battle.’ I’ll be the first to admit that I’m still guilty of this obsession too. It just hit me recently how much time, energy, and emotions our culture wastes on searching for that special someone. You don’t realize it until you consciously step away from it all (if that’s even possible), but it truly permeates our thoughts and actions all day long. If you can step outside this curse, at least temporarily, you may start to share my same frustration.
Frustration is the first step…that’s when you realize it’s actually a problem. As a Christian, relationships seem to be one of those areas where we avoid Biblical guidance. (typically because we already know the answers, but our flesh doesn’t like them) Or again, this could just be me and nobody else! lol But I pushed through the discomfort and actually started digging to see what the Bible says about relationships and how we should view/seek them. I actually started to agree with Paul when he said that it’s better to be single…it’s less responsibilities, so we can focus on reflecting God’s glory even more. (1 Corinthians 7: 32-35) That doesn’t sound exciting at all…lets fast-forward to the parts that say “Wives, submit to your husbands and meet his sexual needs!” Right?! *smacks self in the nose with newspaper* Unfortunately, I’m trying to push past the popular habit of hand-picking certain parts of the Bible that support my fleshly desires, and trying to shine a light on the more challenging ones that I’ve ignored. After all, the ones we don’t like were probably just metaphors, right? lol
I used to think that was a pathetic passage, geared to encourage the people who couldn’t get a girlfriend or boyfriend. But lets face it, some of you girls are downright exhausting. Guys, can I get an Amen? Before I get attacked, I’ll admit that we guys can be quite the responsibility too…we’re not off the hook. However, I’m starting to learn how exhausting LIFE can be, even without a relationship, and how it’s already difficult to put our focus on building His Kingdom.
What culturally woke me up (more specifically) was not just how a relationship can distract our effectiveness for The Kingdom, but even the pursuit of one. Hmm… The concept that even when we are single, we may be spending just as much time, energy, and emotions on seeking someone, becoming less effective for The Kingdom. I think this is one of the biggest opportunities that The Enemy has capitalized on to “steal, kill, and destroy” and he’s been doing a pretty fantastic job lately. Now I’m getting just downright frustrated in myself and seeing my friends and loved ones robbed of their potential and purpose.
Ultimately, this need for attention, affection, and companionship is all rooted in a distorted view of identity, security, and purpose. I’m gonna turn up the cheese factor and pull out the old saying, “There’s a God-shaped hole in all of our hearts that can’t be filled with anything of this world.” But as cheesy as it sounds, it’s the truth. Talk to anyone who as genuinely experienced the love of Christ. I don’t mean someone who has gone to church for “x” number of years, or volunteered at a soup kitchen, or worn the Christian jersey all their lives. I mean someone who has EXPERIENCED Jesus. No “perfect” relationship could even scratch the surface. When you align yourself with what you were designed for, there is NO greater feeling.
Now, this is not an issue that’s solved by some eye-opening revelation or conviction. Not only do we have to uproot these deeper issues of identify, security, and purpose, but we have to intentionally “quit” with the habits we’ve already developed over the years. That’s tough stuff. Both of these are huge and will look different for each person, but that’s ok. We need to let go of the lie that somebody else can make us happy. We’re all in this struggle together and just have to commit to heading in the right direction. It truly is amazing how much more enjoyable and stress-free life can be when we get past these issues and can pour into our true purpose…bearing fruit. There’s too much work to be done, so lets quit looking so hard and focus on the fruit!
After waking up in the middle of the night, feeling wide awake, I decided to start reading “The Grand Weaver”…a book loaned and highly recommended by a friend of mine. As expected, I got sucked into it and read two chapters before realizing that I needed to get some sleep. However, it inspired some thought and I didn’t want to just go to sleep without regurgitating some of it out.
The author, Ravi Zacharias, begins with a few stories…one being about his father-in-law that died shortly after an unexpected diagnosis of kidney cancer. His story discusses the beautiful last moments of his life and the people he had touched along the way. He had a few significant points about the uniqueness of our bodies and how they’re all designed to serve as a masterpiece in the end result. Although he set up a few key themes for the book, it really just got me thinking about life, death, and these bodies that we’re in.
It’s so easy to be moved by stories like these…read a touching book, or watching “My Sister’s Keeper” while safely curled up in a blanket on the couch. But this is real life (and death) for some people. It’s real for everyone eventually…for me. A huge set of questions popped into my head and have been haunting me ever since.
“What if I received a diagnosis that I would die in 2 years? How would I live my life differently? Why am I not living that way right now?”
Each one of those questions is too much to swallow at once. And lets not keep this as some hypothetical, super-spiritual thought…it really could happen. It really could happen. I really could have cancer or HIV right now and not even know it. It could be true. I’m not trying to be morbid or shocking in any way. I’m just trying to examine my current thought processes and the daily idea of immortality…of invincibility, that MOST of us train ourselves to believe. It’s easier to live life neglecting the scary things that we have no answers to. We each build our own little nests of comfort in our own ways. With a daily routine, we micromanage our greater fears and insecurities…keeping them tucked away in our closets.
I know we have limitations with our flesh and these flawed bodies, but what if we could realize the significance of these lives and the unavoidable death we’re going to meet? What if we could re-direct the tangible steps and thought processes in our daily lives to reflect our greater purpose? One of my favorite Francis Chan sermons talks about ‘living a life that makes sense in light of what we believe.’
Now I’m just as guilty as any and have totally dropped the ball in this. But Christians: if you truly believed that you were put on this earth to spread God’s love and reflect His glory, that worldly possessions or success didn’t matter, and that your actions could affect somebody’s eternity, what would you be doing differently? Would you be stressing about your job, your finances, or your status? Would I be stressing about these things, like I do?
This isn’t a post to make you feel bad about your actions or what you’re doing wrong. Let’s stay as far away from the legalistic non-biblical bullcrap as we can…that’s probably the biggest distraction and deterrent from our culture meeting God. This is just me thinking out loud. Maybe we can make some radical and risky changes to our priorities, and life would get better, not worse. Maybe if we let go of our own ideas of success and control, then we could finally life in freedom and peace, because we’d be doing exactly what we were designed to do.
I’d like for you to take a step back, when you get some quiet time alone. Try to imagine that you just received the diagnosis and you only have 2 years left. There is nothing you can do about it. What would you change about your job? How would you treat people? How would your relationships look? Your communication? How would your priorities change? What type of legacy do you want to leave? How would you focus on your eternal significance?
This isn’t just an idea or an inspiring read. It’s reality and you can change yours…hopefully without a fatal diagnosis.
I had a revelation today…during my daily brainstorming of life in the shower.
Recently, I’ve been digging a lot deeper, studying, and praying to find some answers to questions I don’t have the answers to. I’ve learned so much through prayer, service, trust, and some amazing literature (including this book that tops the best seller list, called “The Bible”). Weird?
You see, when you make a choice to be “in the world, but not OF the world” you encounter a lot of different people that each have their own story, their own background and set of circumstances that have let them to their current beliefs. With these encounters and relationships, you get a lot of tough questions that not only open your mind a little more, but challenge your own set of beliefs. At first this can be confusing and discouraging…what if the things I’ve been told aren’t true? However, what starts as scary turns into an exciting journey that, I believe, is exactly what God wants for us.
These questions make me hungry for answers. These questions forced me to dig and find out for myself what the Bible actually says and research some supporting evidence. Now obviously I don’t have all the answers or claim to know more than I do, I’m only 24…let’s be real. But, it’s been an incredible awakening to my own personal walk with God and opportunities for what I call “faith builders”. Obviously the existence (or lack, thereof) of God cannot be proven one way or another. We are characters in a painting and no matter how hard we try to flex our little brain muscles, we can’t ever step outside the canvas to find out if anyone is actually there. However, I think there are far far more clues through (logic, science, and reason) that point to some purpose in all of this and if we open our eyes to see them, it’s overwhelming. Whether it’s nature, this earth, this universe, down to small situations in our lives, seeing these things can be huge “faith builders” that can drastically and tangibly change our actions and interactions.
These faith builders are awesome. Learning more about them is awesome…it builds our faith (duh). But the dangerous part about that is the temptation to use the knowledge and wisdom as a way to build up ammunition towards opposing arguments and squash the lies. There is a place for that and you should be able to intelligently defend your beliefs, BUT the key word in that sentence is “ammunition.” The second we use that knowledge to defeat others and “win an argument”, we’re missing the point. We’re missing it just as much as the Westboro Baptist Church…we just have a little more common sense. Either way, that’s not Biblical. When is the last time you helped someone come to Christ by winning an argument?? That’s what I thought.
Here’s where the revelation kicks in.
Our purpose, as Christians, is NOT to win arguments or force anything on anyone. Our goal is to help them finally break free of a lifetime of lies and pain, so they can start their journey living FREE AND FULLY ALIVE…living life to the fullest, with no more rules or bondage [Louie Giglio]. Our goal is to help them see that it’s not about losing an argument or fearing change, but that no matter what they’ve done or been through they can regain their innocence and experience an overwhelming joy, peace, and purpose. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine presenting it that way, through your own personal experience, instead of arguing over stupid surface issues?
The second part to my revelation addresses reality and action.
Unfortunately, the reality is that we are all made of flesh and different circumstances lead to different levels of openness. Maybe that’s not unfortunate…maybe that adds to the beauty of it all? I don’t know. But people don’t erase a lifetime of hurt and skepticism through one stupid emotional prayer that they were manipulated into feeling and doing, so you can scratch that plan. It’s a process and one that takes time building trust, as God reveals Himself to them…not as they’re told something. Now granted, I’m not about to put any limits on God and say He can’t work a certain way or time frame, but typically lasting change doesn’t happen in a day. The reality is, some people just aren’t ready to hear it and that’s OK.
The action part was probably the biggest part of my revelation. It hit me while thinking about all this and how to overcome the emotional backlash and resistance. A clear voice in my head stopped my brain, mid sentence, “Dude, why are you wasting all this time and energy stressing about logic and delivery in these conversations? For every person that isn’t ready to hear it, there are 100 that need a glimmer of Jesus’ love TODAY.” Whoa…ouch. These conversations are good, but if we get too wrapped up in them, it can trigger our flesh and waste time that can be spent more effectively and more Biblically.
So, my takeaways for this brainstorm of my revelation can be boiled down to some simplicity. 1) Dig deeper for yourself to find more about what you believe and enjoy the ride of uncovering the “faith builders” along the way. 2) Change your mindset from arguments or debates to conversations that genuinely display Christ in your life…and be patient. 3) Take action. There is work to be done and sitting around talking to deaf ears makes you a crazy person. People need love…a lot of them…and it’s your purpose TODAY to be that vessel, above all else.
Happy Monday to you all and thanks for reading my shower revelation :)