Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Narrow Paths

We discussed the story of Hosea and Gomer in small group tonight.  One of the questions was something about if following God is easy or hard.  I felt a little off tonight and was barely listening so I'm not sure how it was phrased, but they were asking if anyone had done what they thought God was asking them to do only to find that life got more difficult.  I was pretty determined not to speak tonight, but our group leader (who knows my story pretty well) asked me directly.  I really don't remember what I said, I'm sure it didn't make sense, but I do know I said something about making sure my son knows that following God isn't always going to be roses.  I stand by that, but I also want to make sure that he knows that submitting to God's will for his life is exactly what he should do and is in his best interest.  

I think its important to let your kids know that following God is sometimes going to be very difficult.  God is very big and very smart and we are very small and very dumb.  We don't get it, ever.  Stuff doesn't make sense and that's difficult sometimes.  If you tell your kids that Christianity is all slingshots and giant boats and jackets made with many colors the world is going to show them that you get hit with rocks, eaten by whales, and throw into pits.  Its hard to make sense of a God that's all love and cake and rainbows from in the belly of a big nasty fish.  You need to show them as much of God as possible, even the parts that make us uncomfortable.  You don't need to make excuses for or downplay anything about who God is.  Life will show them eventually and it'll be easier if you have already painted an accurate picture.

I feel like I've learned a lot about God in the past few years.  They have been difficult years.  There is very little I would change about them.  When God gave me aviation, called me to it, I thought it was a way out of the depression I had been sliding in and out of since dad died.  I thought it would be easy, I should have known better.  I grew up watching my dad fight through one professional setback after the other, plus I knew by then that the really important lessons are never easy to learn and you have to work at anything worth doing and fight to keep anything worth having.

When God called me to fly (I have no doubt its a calling, apparently not everyone who is called has to be a preacher or missionary) I was in a bad place.  I had fallen a long way into the bottom of a very big hole.  It was dark and I was injured - injured bad.  Broken and bloody I thought I might die there - I couldn't see a way out.  I would love to say that God put a Cessna 172 down there and I was able to fly myself out, but it hasn't gone like that so far.  He showed me a path.  Its a small, steep path littered with obstacles and slippery places and I am still nursing some pretty nasty wounds, but I'm on the path and that gives me hope.  In the bottom of that hole there is no hope and there can be no joy.  The path out is difficult but it provides hope and joy becomes a possibility.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that I bitch a lot, but I'm pretty happy with where I am.  I don't want to stay here, I want to go farther but I'm happy to be on the path God has set in front of me.

One other small thing:  Something was said tonight about the bad things being the way we know what is good.  Like if we never had anything bad happen we would be able to be thankful.  There was a follow up statement about bad being the norm or seeming like it making the small glimpses we get of good being real pictures of who God is.  Again, I'm off tonight and wasn't really paying attention, but I think this is a little backwards.  We are created in the image of a perfect God with eternity breathed into every beat of our hearts.  We respond so strongly to death and injustice and poverty and pain because we were never meant to experience them.  We should be naked in paradise, in perfect communion with our creator.  I'm sure this is all just semantics, but I still think its important.  Creation is good, life is good, God is good.  Darkness needs to light to define it, light and love and good stand alone.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

We Built This City

So, I rocked out to some Jefferson Starship on the way home from the Airport tonight.  I'm not sure if they are still cool, but I don't care.  I actually felt ok about myself so I rocked it with the windows down,

So, I starting thinking about what kind of city I want my kids to grow up in. What will be the foundation they have to stand on.  I'm not talking about within our family as much as the community we do life with, our village.  If it takes one to raise a child, I think we need to be intentional about what the one we live in values and is characterized by.  I'm on this now because I've had, for me, a rare opportunity to hang out with my friends in somewhat large groups lately.  Our small group split and so there is one on a night I can go to now, first time in over 60 weeks.  And some of the guys started having breakfast together once a week. I hope that this will be my new norm, and I'm excited about the change it will bring to my life and my family, but with two kids I can't help but wonder what they will see in the community we have chosen to raise them in.

Obviously, we want all we do to be founded in and born out of the gospel of Christ.  He is the rock everything else is built on.  I thought about leaving this out because it should go without saying, like when I say Sandra Bullock is the hottest woman alive I clearly mean with the exception of my wife, but I knew you would judge me.  The problem is that as soon as you mention Christ the discussion of anything else, even with different terminology, seems off.  Its difficult to mention anything else, what can follow Christ as an answer?

So, if you ask what we are building our city on and have Christ as the obvious given and will not accept that as the answer thereby forcing me to come up with non-christian, or not expressly Christian, answers then I'd say the following:  We are building our city on laughter.  We laugh a lot.  Only a few of us are funny at all, but we still manage to laugh a lot and I love that about us.  We are building our city on the long meal.  We eat together, I'm can't explain why that means so much, but it does.  We are building our city on openness, honesty and vulnerability.  I'm convinced these things only exist together.  I know the people I hang out with.  I know things they won't put on facebook or tweet about.  I don't read about them, I experience them.  We built this city on honesty and trust.  We built it on vulnerability and laughter.  We built it on dinners and parties and drinks and cigars.  Its built on faith and grace and just a little rock and roll.    

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Gone Boxing

In the clearing stands a boxer 
And a fighter by his trade 
And he carries the reminders 
ev'ry glove that layed him down 
Or cut him till he cried out 
In his anger and his shame 
"I am leaving, I am leaving" 
But the fighter still remains 

-Paul Simon-
I'm sitting in room 322 at UT hospital watching my wife feed my son -my son.  He's an awesome little guy.  I hear  people all the time talk about how seeing or holding their kids for the first time instantly changes them.  I'm sure it doesn't work that way for me.  Change I want to happen takes effort, its change I don't want that comes quickly and out of nowhere.  Sometimes the change I want is better than the change I don't, but sometimes the least expected and most terrifying change is the best thing that could ever happen.  

I'm gonna say this now, this one time, and then deny it until I die.  I did not want to have another kid right now.  I didn't feel ready. I felt out of control, and accidentally getting pregnant did not help the situation.  I'm in a bad but improving career situation and we knew we would have to move soon.  It felt irresponsible bringing another kid into that situation.  I had a very hard time getting excited about having this baby.  We didn't even get the nursery finished.  It didn't seem fair to him or the rest of us.  Sitting here now I'm confronted with the stupidity, ignorance, and short-sided selfishness of those feelings.  

My son's name is Carter.  He has the same initials as my dad and I.  We didn't name him until 24 hours after he was born.  Nothing seemed right.  The initials thing became very important to me.  I like having him linked to my dad that way.  He'll never know my dad, and I'm not sure I have enough of the good that was in him left in me for Carter to know him that way, so I think having something of his Granddad's may link them in a way I can't.  It feels like tying the loose ends together a little.  

Carter's arrival doesn't take away the pain of loosing my dad or make that ok in any way, but its a reminder that life moves on.  It's sometimes cruel and dark, but not always.  Life is good because its inventor it is good.  

I wrote everything up to this point on our third night in the hospital.  I didn't really know how to finish it then, still don't.  I don't have any idea what the Simon and Garfunkel song has to do with anything except that I couldn't get it out of my head that night.  I feel like I complain on here a lot - these last few years have been difficult.  I've given God a hard time and I've felt like I wasn't getting much better from him.  That's so stupid.  God has been good, really good.  He provides and protects. He loves and pursues.  My life screams of his mercy and grace.  

These last few years have been marked by loss and anger and isolation and confusion.  In the rare moments of clarity, moments like this one, I can see also see what I have been allowed to hold on to and what I have gained.  I have wonderful family (mom, sisters, brother in laws, a beautiful niece and two really cool nephews), I have the best friends anyone has ever had, my wife is amazing (for more on her read this and this),  my daughter is beautiful and funny and healthy, I have a son.  Yes, money is tight and our financial future uncertain, but I know what I want to do.  I know my calling - its not much, just a little dream.  Yea, life is good.

I am not.  About 10 years ago I quit basketball.  I was a freshman in college and I didn't like the way it was going, it required too much - got too hard.  I never should have quit, at least not like that.  I left mid-season, what kind of team mate was I.  That's shady.  I learned then that quitting is an option, that one decision created a habit.  I've been quitting every since.  Not very often in large noticeable ways, but in sneaky small ways in the most difficult moments I shut down - bow out.  I think that's what one of my current jobs is designed to break me of.  I hate it.  I like the people and appreciate that it pays bills and provides insurance, but I hate going there everyday knowing its not where my future lies, I want to quit everyday - so far I haven't.  I'm going to see it through to its end.  

I'm off topic.  Here's the thing:  I've been pushed to the limit by sin and doubt and anger and shame.  I'm not afraid anymore, its all been flushed.  I'm going  to take a stand.  My family deserves at least that.  I'm too weak now to advance much, but I'm going to hold my ground.  This is as far as I'm willing to slide.  Its not going to look like much. This post will probably be the most noticeable thing I do, but in sneaky ways in the  tough moments I'm going to hold my ground.    

I'm not sure what that will look like in me anymore, but I saw Jesus in my parents and I'm going to do all I can to ensure my kids see him in me.  

Sunday, May 9, 2010


I got to go to church today for the first time in several months. I didn't know really what to expect, but I was sure I wouldn't be able to get right back to where I was spiritually before the events of the last 15 months, I mean, how long does it take to recover from a year long backslide? I actually felt pretty good going into the service. I knew I was a little banged up spiritually, but I felt like I was doing the best I could do given the circumstances.

We have a moment of prayer before each service, and today my prayer was simple. I thanked God for my mom and wife who are both fantastic women of God and asked that wherever I was in my relationship with him that today he would make clear where I was and what steps I needed to take to become the kind of spouse and parent he wants me to be.

What can wash away my sin? What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. I don't have the words to describe what happened as I, for the first time in months, praised the God of healing. Have you ever gone to the doctor for something little, something you didn't think would even require medical attention? You know, one of those doctor visits you make just to pacify a parent or spouse. Imagine if they took an x-ray and the Doctor comes in and flips on the light on that little board and you see clearly that all your bones are broken. Completely broken.

I knew I had fallen, but that picture was terrifying and sobering. The reality of what falling has done to me is overwhelming. The confession and repentance that took place in that moment was unlike anything I've ever experienced. It all happened very suddenly. Its like we were both there staring at damage, I'm looking at it and he's looking at it and we're both very aware of how terrible it is. The beautiful thing about that moment is that we both also know who he is. I'm confronted by the horrific damage done in the moment I looked away, but I don't doubt his healing for a second. I'm afraid of what rehab will be like, but I expect to make a full recovery.

What can make me whole again? Nothing but your blood, King Jesus. As I sang those words in the final chorus It seemed so simple, I've been trying so hard to get through this thinking that if I could just get through the next couple of months I would be able to focus on God again. Time and circumstance and financial stability can do nothing. Jesus, its your blood.

I wish I could say that I'm pleading the blood of Christ and waiting for healing. I can't. I think rehab is as active process. Luckily, or something else like luck, Pastor was doing a series on how to study the bible. I wish I could remember his exact phrasing, he's much more eloquent than I, but I can't. He said in studying the bible you have to lay your life against God's word and let it be your standard. Or something like that. It mad me think about sitting on my dad's lap as a young boy. He was so big and so strong and I wanted/want to be like him so badly. I can remember feeling his chest rise as fall as he breathed and I remember trying to make my breath match his. He was my standard. It has to be like that with God. At the very core of who we are, God has to set the rhythm. I have to be in tune with him. That starts in his word. Tonight I pray for desire and discipline and strength. I pray that I find in the Bible a word that is living and I find in myself the desire to make my life match.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Right Direction

I noticed just now that I haven't posted on here in over a month. I wish I had something clever or wise to say now but I don't, shocker, I know. I'm here because I have literally nothing else to do. I am stuck in a hotel room.

Today has been one of the most frustrating days I've had in a long time. Its the culmination of weeks of the most frustrating days I can remember. I've been preparing for years to get to this point, I am on the verge of getting paid to fly. I have my commercial license so technically I can get paid now, but the Instructor certificate is what will allow me to get paid a little (very little) now. The problem is the FAA. I have to take my CFI (certified flight instructor) checkride with them. All the others have been with a local examiner, but this one has to be with the Feds in Nashville. So, I have prepared for weeks for the longest (near 8 hours) and most difficult test of my life only to fly down here and be told my paperwork isn't right (they ok'd it before I came) and I can't take the test. After that they informed me there is also a paperwork problem with the plane so I can't fly it home. I'm stuck here until the airplane's owner can get the proper paperwork done and faxed to me. I'm in a hotel with no car and nothing on TV.

It's weird, but its been a pretty good day. Maybe a great day. Today was the kind of day that drives people to drink or intentionally hurt other people, but for me it was just a day that was better than the one before it. Part of that comes from it being over. I have been dreading it and worrying about it for so long - it was worse than I thought it would be, but its over. That's part of it, but I think the main thing here is that I got up this morning and went after something I'm passionate about. It was a misstep, but it was a misstep in the right direction. I'm certain that doesn't make sense. I'd rather stumble down this road than sail down any other. I'm more certain of that now than I was when I went to bed last night. Its a good day that teaches you something like that about yourself.

I try not to offer advice much on here, I don't know shit, but I'm feeling reckless so here goes. If your doing something you don't love - stop it. Choose what you want to be and go be it. I'm talking professionally. I know there are people out there that have no idea what career they would be passionate about so they do their job the best they can and then pour what's left of themselves into family or church or working out or boating or whatever else they know they love. That's great, I have a lot of respect for those people and would tell them to keep doing what they're doing. If you have a dream, please chase it. I can tell you it will probably be difficult - it might take longer than you expect - it will cost more than you can imagine - but today I learned that the worst day spent in pursuit of that dream in better than any spent waiting on 5. Taking care of family and meeting your obligations and responsibilities as spouse and parent are admirable and good and worthwhile and I'm not knocking those things, if fact, I advocate them. Do those things. Work - be productive - create and build and do and provide. If you know there is a way to take that ride in a vehicle you know you're passionate about, take the risk. Its worth it, that's all I'm saying.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

New Favorite Poem

I'm not much for poetry, can't write it, so I don't read it much. Frustrating. I have seemed to stumble across some lately and here is my new favorite.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pardon My Train Wreck

A man like me is dead in places
Other men feel liberated

-Elton John-

I’m at the computer tonight because I read a poem a friend’s dad wrote and it made me want to write. I thought about trying my pen at a poem, but that ain’t me. I love words, I just can’t make ‘em dance. What I can do, what I do really well, is talk about me. This is probably going to be a train wreck, but I’m going try and walk through, as honestly as possible, what my experience has felt like and who I feel like I am in and because of it.

The line above is my favorite line from what is probably my favorite Elton John song – how’s that for honest? This is pretty much how I feel all the time. The reverse is also true.

I’ve talked a lot about the anger that followed my dad’s death. Anger that came hard and fast. Anger that took over and drove out all else. I knew I couldn’t control it and I didn’t want to give it up. I didn’t trust God to take it and I was afraid of what I would feel with it gone. I was confused and afraid, so I hid it. Buried it deep so no one would know or be hurt by it. I was wrong on both counts. When you do that with emotion it does funny things to you. It changes you. This anger ate away at joy and hope; it left me numb and cold. At first I liked it. It was better to not feel. In that way anger gave way to apathy. After all of it, this is what I still struggle with. I don’t care much anymore. I have a hard time getting excited or sad or anything. I’m dead in places.

At least I think that’s what’s happened. I often think maybe I’m not so much dead in those places as I am lost. I think maybe something’s gotten crossed in there. There are times I get emotional, it just never seems to be at the right times. I didn’t cry when my daughter was born, but I sure can’t watch The Biggest Looser without a hanky. What is with that show? I don’t have control of it anymore. I have a leak. I don’t know how to express emotion when its appropriate so it comes out at wired times about strange stuff.

I mentioned in that last post that things are never ok again, and I stand by that. It’s been the most surprising thing about all of this. It turns out people are unique and irreplaceable. Having a daughter doesn’t make up for losing a father. She made her own place, she didn’t take his.

I’ve come to an interesting place, just now. I’m finding that I’m still afraid of feeling anything - or at least uncomfortable with it. I was just about to write a little about my daughter, but I stopped because I knew I would get emotional about it. Weird. Maybe the issue isn’t that I buried emotion before, maybe it’s that I created a habit of burying or avoiding it. I still do it. I’m doing it right now. I’m going to park this and move on.

I may be dead or broken in places most people are not, but I’ve also gotten to experience God in ways that have changed and restored me. I’m not good at the Christian thing - apathy isn’t an asset in this endeavor. I want to read the Bible, I just don’t. I want to pray, I just don’t; At least not very often. Again, I think it’s because I don’t want to deal with the way I feel or why I don’t feel. The problem with the Bible is that it is truth. People respond to truth. You have to deal with it. I don’t want to. Not yet, and certainly not all at once.

I hope this doesn’t sound too depressing. I feel like I do a lot of bitching on here. I hope it doesn’t come across that way. I’m generally at my most somber and introspective when I write. I struggle, yes, but I would rather fight and know than never be challenged and just say that I believe. Mercy and Grace and hope and love aren’t just things I’ve read about in books. I have and do wrestle with and live in them. I have lived - life hard and fast. I have had everything I know torn down around me. Through it all God has been faithful. He has pursued and loved me more fiercely than I ever could have imagined. He has recklessly poured out grace and mercy. He has restored hope and delivered on his promise of freedom. I’m free to embrace life because in the middle of all the mess it’s made I’ve found some good things.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Say What?

A friend of a friend’s father just passed away and my friend asked me what they could or should say to their friend. My first reaction was there is no right or wrong. It’s a terrible situation, one filled with pain and anger and fear. Words can’t make those go away, at least not our words.

I thought about it a while and decided that while there is probably nothing you can say that will magically help, there are some things that you probably shouldn’t say. At least there are things that pissed me off when they were said to me. Please understand that this is just how I feel or felt. I just thought it might be good to get it out there in case someone is in this situation and has no idea what to do.

First, don’t say you know how they feel. You don’t. I’ve been in close to the same situation as her friend and I don’t know exactly how he feels. You don’t know - no need to lie about it. People who have lost somebody like to tell you that you can’t see it now, but it will all be ok. That’s total shit. Please don’t do that. My dad died like eight years ago and it isn’t ok. Its better, but everything is not ok. He will have times when he feels ok, but then he’ll buy a truck or build a fence or get married or have a kid or get his commercial pilot’s license and suddenly it won’t be ok again. There are things a man should be able to share with his dad, in those moments, the big moments, his absence is palpable. There’s a small shadow in the corner of all these moments, in the midst of joy and triumph sadness lingers. That is not ok. Don’t ever say it’ll be ok, you can’t know that. If losing a loved one teaches you anything it’s that nothing is certain. If they are like me suggesting things ever will be again will just piss them off.

I personally don’t like the, “they are in a better place,” or “they aren’t in pain any more” lines. It’s hard to explain why I don’t like them. I think maybe because they make me feel selfish. I wanted my dad back more than anything. To point out that he is better off now made it feel like I was being selfish by wanting him back. Like I would rather him be here suffering instead of me. The other problem there is; what if they aren’t in a better place. I know it’s ugly to think about, but not everyone is. It’s just a bad topic to get on all together. For me the pain and anger of those first few months was almost too much. I didn’t know what to do with it, but I couldn’t think about anything else. I know it sounds bad, but that made it about me. I couldn’t see past my own pain. I got tired of people always asking how my mom was doing, I know it was the worst for her, but it was hard on all of us. Let them know you care about their family, but your focus needs to be on the person you are dealing with. It’s about them. When you talk too much about how sorry you are or how you hurt for them or how you can’t imagine how their mother is making it, it makes them feel, or made me feel, like my pain was being downplayed. That made me feel selfish and gave me an avenue to direct all that anger inward. During the worst of it I was angry at and didn’t trust God, but man, I hated me.

So what do you do? I think you tell them you’re sorry. Tell them you love them, and hold them as tight as you can for as long as they’ll let you. Be honest and real. Create a safe place. They have to know its ok to be angry and sad. They also have to know its ok to laugh a little to. My friend asked if she should try to make him laugh. I said not to try and make him laugh, but allow him to laugh. They have to feel safe expressing whatever emotion they feel, burying it only drags out the process.

If you want to know how to just be there for someone - how to handle the situation with grace and love, ask Kyla and Daniel and Claire and Aaron and Ryan and Danny and Anthony, they were my breath - my safe place. I don’t remember specifics of what they said or how they said it, I just know they loved me well and that’s how I survived.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Good Thing

It blew my mind, it bled me dry, it hit me like a long goodbye,
and nobody here knows better than I that it’s a good thing.

It’ll fall like rain on your parade, laugh at the plans that you tried to make, it’ll wear you down till your heart just breaks and it’s a good thing. It’ll take just a little too much. It’ll burn you like a cinder till you’re tender to the touch.

It’ll follow you down to the ruin of your great divide, and open the wounds that you tried to hide. And there in the rubble of the heart that died you’ll find a good thing. Love is a good thing.
-Andrew Peterson-

This song hit me hard. I’ve felt all of those things. I’ve said the long goodbye; had plans blow up in my face. I’m worn down and broken, burnt and tender, wounded and exposed. I’ve been sifting through the rubble lately trying to make some sense of it all. Trying to find a reason to hope – something to hang my faith on. I don’t know why it’s so hard for me. I know people who can just believe. Who seem to hope by default. I’m a Christian, but I don’t know how to just live it. I have to choose it. Every day, I have to choose it again and again. Sometimes it seems like such an obvious decision and others it takes everything I have. It doesn’t come natural to me.

This song, or the truth it contains, is huge for me because it makes that decision just a little easier. I understand that God is love, I feel loved by him. It’s just that I’ve never thought about it being the power of his love that drives me brokenness. I know this is a necessary part of the process for me, but with the complexity of God it’s difficult to be sure what about him is wreaking this havoc. I’m not sure I’m really getting to it here. The difference seems so subtle as to at first appear irrelevant, but the distinction couldn’t be more powerful for me. I know God is love and I thought that it was out of love that he chose to do these things to me. Like he was actively burning and breaking me. It’s more that this is just what happens when the created is loved by the creator, when imperfect is loved by perfection.

The only thing I can think to compare it to is the way my love makes my daughter feel safe. I don’t tell her she’s safe, at two she wouldn’t understand it anyway. She doesn’t see me lock the doors of know that I have a gun in the dresser. My love for her doesn’t drive me to show her these things so she can feel safe, but when she lays down at night it’s my love the allows her to sleep in the dark. God doesn’t break me because he loves me - he loves me and that breaks me. The difference is subtle, but it’s what allows me to sleep at night.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Live Big

Just look at the ground on the grassy hill. It’ll lift you up but it holds you still, ‘cause gravity binds us but glory defines us—it’s the greater pull of a perfect will ...
It’s so full of meaning, alive and careening into the grace of the great unknown. I’m stuck down here. …up and away to the great wide open, adrift in an end­less ocean, in a bliss of mystical motion. I have found this much is true: love alone can carry you.
-Andrew Peterson-

It’s no secret that I love Andrew Peterson. Something about the way he writes. I think he says things the way I would say them if I could – or he says things in a way that reaches me. Sometimes I feel like the songs are his but the words are mine. I feel like I’m seeing things that I knew or should have known all along, but somehow couldn’t express or identify. I learned last night that he has an album for kids. I think my daughter will like it someday, if this next one is a boy I imagine he’ll eventually enjoy it to. I love it now. It was on in the car today and I enjoyed it more than I’ve enjoyed any music in a long time. It’s probably that I’ve regressed so far spiritually that I have become like a child, but in between all the silly there are powerful truths. Kids are silly and young and so they like fun and adventure - they don’t dream because they are young - they dream because they haven’t forgotten how. We were made for adventure and dreams and pirate ships and imagination. None of my jeans are grass stained and I rarely make gun sounds when I fly. I want to live – live big.

I want to slay the dragon and rescue the princess. I want to live the life I’ve forgotten. This gravity binds us, but its glory that defines us. To live big, in his will, carries us with grace unto the great unknown. I want to fly.

I became a commercial pilot two weeks ago. It’s the realization of dream. In the pursuit of that dream I have done and seen things very few people will ever experience. Up and away into the great wide open, I’ve escaped the bonds of earth and danced the clouds. I’ve been engulfed in blackness and thunder. I’ve seen beauty and power - felt free and weightless. I’ve been both conqueror and completely insignificant. I have been breathless and speechless and giddy. Somehow in all of that I began the think it was work and study that propelled me. I got lost in the effort and forgot the dream. The truth is: it was never me. It was and is always about the greater pull of a perfect will. It’s not a dream I had, it’s a dream I was given. I forgot.

God, forgive my forgetfulness. I have nothing to offer this journey. This is your dream, your story, your will. My efforts are futile; it’s your love alone that carries me.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Pt 2. Backwards

A good friend at work says she believes in God, but she doesn't want to go to church because she doesn't want to be a hypocrite and she isn't ready to stop living for herself (I'm paraphrasing). Earlier in a crazy moment I had told her to do something, not asked, told and not overly nicely. I apologized later and said I should have asked and probably said please, her exact words were, "I don't mind obeying people I know and like." She has is backwards. She thinks she needs to have basically become a Christian before she comes to church. She thinks she needs to come to a place where she puts God's desires before her own and then try to get to know him. It won't happen that way.

To know Him is to know that He is good. It’s that knowing that starts to make it possible to value his glory above your own. You'll never be willing to obey someone you don't know and like. She is waiting until she is willing to obey before she tries to know Him. Church is, or should be, the ultimate come as you are place. Learn him; know him, then decide if you want to obey him. There aren't many promises I can make, but I know enough to promise her (and you) this: Christianity is difficult. It won't solve all your problems. It doesn't provide a life that is easy. Christianity is a decision, a very personal and often extremely difficult decision. It’s a decision that you have to make over and over every day, but if you find in yourself the desire and strength to make that decision it will lead to joy and purpose and life. The first thing that we have to decide is whether or not we want joy and purpose and life more than we want fun and sex and alcohol and parties. For what it’s worth, I have of all seven.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

pt. 1 What I Know

The next three posts are kind of part of the same process for me. I'm going to divide it up and post it over the next couple of days. I hope you stop back by for the rest.

These days have been quiet for me -long and . I haven't done the things I've needed to do to stir the waters. I've been absent - far away and busy. Even the days seem quiet - still and lonely. It’s cold and dark now, I don't feel or think - I just do. The motions are easy but rest is elusive. There are faces I don't know - parts of a story that can't be mine. There is a fog - cold and quiet.

Something has moved. Pebbles dropped in a still pool. The ripples are small, but the water is moving. It’s hard to make my way back to the pool, but I know there is healing there. I've heard stories - been asked questions - been invited, challenged. I feel almost brave enough to hope - could there be light, warmth, and healing enough for me?

A friend recently lost his newborn daughter. I haven't spoken to him since, but I heard he spoke at the memorial service. I can't imagine having strength like that, but I know where it comes from. This is the kind of story that penetrates, that finds you where you are and forces you to think. It wakes you up and brakes you. I don't like to think about what I would do in his situation, but I can't help it. I know in the moment I wouldn't be as strong as I've heard he has been, it takes me longer. I think in situations like these the only question is whether or not you believe that God is good.

I don't believe God kills. I believe we do. It’s difficult to accept death because deep down we all know we aren't supposed to die. We weren't created for it - we choose it (or chose it). I don't believe my friend’s daughter chose it, just like I don't believe my dad chose it. Adam and Eve made the same choice we all make. We choose our glory over Gods, our wishes over His plans. In this way we choose death, every day. We have created a fallen world, destroyed paradise and replaced it with a sort of nursing home. We are all dying here. God chose not to abandon us this fate. He provided a way out. He gave up his glory and came to live among us. While here he didn't choose death, he chose life, over and over every day for 33 years he chose life so that when he did finally decide to meat death it was ours he met and not his own. He took our death - he met it as sacrifice and conqueror. Death has been defeated - we have life and hope and grace and mercy freely available to us. We just have to choose it.