Did you happen to “grow up in church” like I did? Were there days when you felt like you really didn’t want to go, but you went anyway, and you were so grateful that you did? It’s kinda how I’m feeling about writing this week. It’s something that’s so essential to my daily processing right now, and I really just don’t wanna do it. I’m hoping if I just start typing I’ll have an epiphany and all the muddled thoughts will magically become clear and cohesive…
The phrases people use to hold themselves back from a relationship with God seem much more pronounced lately.
“I want a deeper relationship with Jesus.”
“I want to be challenged in my walk with God.”
My face is contorted in a state of confusion to think about these phrases with what feels like a heightened sensitivity today. From what I can remember, the times in my life when my relationship with God got “deeper” and my walk was truly “challenged” were very difficult. Honestly, why would people want that? Why would they strive to instigate it? It’s like they’re playing with a chemistry set where the beakers are labeled: Guilt, Control, Prayer, Bible Study, Insecurity, Projection, and Manipulation. And the goal of the experiment? “Have a better story to tell, so people can know God better.” Yikes.
Here’s what I want to say to those people:
“I’ll go ahead and say my walk with God has been challenged in the past, and I’ll even say my relationship with Him is deeper now, but do you honestly think I’m happy about it? Do you think I wouldn’t trade all those dark, depressing nights and all that soul-crushing pain for a more shallow relationship with God? You think I wouldn’t, don’t you?
“Be thankful that you’ve been spared the kind of hardship other people have been through. It could have just as easily been you. And you might not have fared as well as they did. Life is hard enough without you trying to stir up a ‘better testimony’ for yourself. Stop thinking you need to be challenged. Stop guilting yourself into thinking your relationship with God isn’t deep enough. Stop wasting your prayers on ‘catching God up’ on your life since the last time you prayed. Stop wishing you were more ‘into’ Bible study; more of a ‘reader’ like those super Christians you admire.
“Have you ever thought your relationship with God might be is exactly what it should be? That it might be good enough just the way it is? That it doesn’t need to be challenged and worked-over by all the guilt you put on it?
“Try asking yourself these questions. Do you listen to that Voice when it stirs you to think differently? Are you sensitive to that Pull when it leads you into a conversation you didn’t plan on having? Can you be open to a Push when it shows you where you’re truly needed? Are you willing to love and the people He has already put in your path?
“Stop wishing there could be more for you to do. You might be ignoring what He’s already given you.”
I heard something interesting this past week, so I did a little reading about carrots today:
Carrots originated in Middle Asia with some historians believing that they were known as far back as Ancient Egypt over 5,000 years ago. It is not clear if they were actually cultivated at this time, however by the 10th century in Afghanistan, they were being grown in the colours purple or yellow.These weren’t the only colours around, however. In addition to purple and white, carrots were grown in red, yellow and even black. (Emphasis Added)
So (apparently) someone along the way decided carrots should be orange and stifled production of the other colors. Now, the organic foodies have begun to cry out for the the things of olde. I ended up bringing this up at our small group discussion today, because it made me think about gifts:
For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. (1 Corinthians 12:8-11, ESV, Emphasis Added)
Does it seem to anyone else that somewhere along the way, someone decided (or a lot of someones if you consider all the denominations) that all Christians should be “orange”? How sad is it that the organic food movement has a better handle on naturally occurring differences than the modern church seems to at times?
I posted this story for my small group girls awhile back. We were talking about prayerlessness at the time. I think it’s one of the biggest obstacles we face in our struggle to find peace. Thinking about it that night, I felt like God gave me an illustration of how He feels about it…
Imagine a woman fighting a war overseas, in combat, constantly in a state of exhaustion. Her only emotional and mental relief comes from her video chats with her husband. They talk and laugh and cry together. She asks him about home, but rarely talks about the details of her battles. The world she’s surrounded by is so devastating and hopeless and barbaric. She doesn’t want to talk about it. She assumes he probably doesn’t want to hear it anyway.
The days turn to weeks and months. Their chats become further apart, and the barrage of warfare begins to take a heavy toll. She misses her husband desperately and feels terrible for not being able to communicate more often. On top of her guilt, the rare occasions she does talk to him are usually cut short because she can hardly stay awake.
“I’m so sorry!” she cries in bitter weakness. “I just want these times to be special for us. I miss you so much. I don’t know why I can’t find more time to call you!” He speaks gently to her as she cries herself to sleep, telling her he loves her and she’s not alone.
Months turn into years overnight. The routine of guilt and heartache continues. The wife asks about home when she can, but usually just feels like a failure for not staying in better contact. This is the Love of her life. How can she not find the time?
One night her husband stops her before she can apologize. “I know you feel bad about not calling, My Love, but this is Our Time. I don’t want you to waste another moment of it focusing on a guilty conscience.
“I miss you desperately. I worry about you all day and when I hear from you My Spirit comes alive. I just want to know how you’ve been. I want you to know that I’m here; that you can talk to me about how things are going there. I’m the Commander in Chief. Don’t you think I could help if you told me what was going on?
“We could get those long-range radios if you want. That way you could talk to me while you’re in the field. I could call in supply drop if you need one, or an air strike to give you some room to breathe. Hell, I could call off the whole war and bring you home if I wanted to. You know I could! But there are still people there that need you.
“Just know that you don’t have to do this by yourself. I’m here, My Love. We can do this Together. Just talk to Me.”
ob·sti·nate /ˈäbstənit/ Adjective
- Stubbornly refusing to change one’s opinion or action, despite attempts to persuade one to do so.
- (of an unwelcome phenomenon or situation) Very difficult to change or overcome.
My latest hiatus from college began in December 2010. After two and a half years, I still find myself wanting to write essays and missing the learning process. But I don’t miss being assigned essays or being tested on what I know. “Write where the wind is blowing,” Donald Miller said in one of his recent posts.
“Your subconscious doesn’t want to be controlled, it wants to play.”
So here’s my stream-of-consciousness blog. I don’t have deadlines. I don’t have assignments. It’s my own personal writing playland.
I was reading about my sign again this week and it said the Taurus is naturally lazy. I think I resent that perception. It’s not that I’m lazy. It’s that I have an innate obstinacy toward being controlled. I also despise inefficiency. Being told what to do and how to do it is the quickest way to see me go limp, drop to the floor, and passively refuse to do anything. Which, I’ll admit, looks a lot like laziness, but let me explain further.
|“Nope. Not gonna do it.”
Larry the Cucumber
As an introvert, I see needs around me every day and I am constantly brainstorming about ways I can help. For someone to tell me what to do is for them to immediately paralyze every potentially helpful bone in my body. I don’t recommend testing it. The paralysis may not subside after that particular situation is resolved. I may be incapable of helping that person for the rest of their natural life if I continue to perceive an air of control about them.
With this in mind, I’m actually quite astonished that I ever managed to pull off good grades in school. How did I manage to trick myself into that? Maybe it’s because I didn’t see school as something that was being imposed on me. I felt like the classes I took and the subjects I studied were all my idea – my choice. The assignments were all a logical result of my choices. I could have taken easier classes. I could have pursued other endeavors. But I chose scholasticism. I graduated valedictorian from high school and summa cum laude from college. That doesn’t mean I didn’t ditch every chance I got! Huh-HA!
“Ain’t nothin’ gonna to break my stride. Nobody’s gonna slow me down, oh no!” – Matthew Wilder.
My sister and I have an inside joke about making annoying, repetitive sounds. “You don’t love this sound?” We laugh every time, but it comes to mind when I think about the institutionalized church. I agree with the free believer thinking that, if you don’t have something inspired to say, don’t say anything at all. Do everyone a favor and cease being the talking head long enough to let someone else have an original thought. You don’t have to fill the silence with statements or questions.
Someone, please reach under the surface and share what’s there. Ditch the canned answers and the rehearsed responses. Be real, and for God’s sake don’t tell me something you learned years ago, or even yesterday. What are you learning right now; Today? What is God saying right now. What is He telling you about what’s going on in your life today?
Is He far off? Do you feel abandoned? Is your faith troubled? Are you resorting to self-sufficiency? Is He nearer than ever? Is He whispering that He loves you? Is He shaking your core to wake you up to the Truth? Is He providing? Is He withholding? Are you numb? Have you never been more alive?
Are you Truly grateful? Does life taste bitter? Is your body turning against you? Are you living moment-to-moment? Have you given up? Are you about to? Does talking help or does it leave you more hopeless? Does listening soothe your nerves our does it inflame them? Are you well-protected or do you feel abandoned? Am I your only support? Do you feel like you’re grasping for someone to understand?
I cannot hear unoriginal thoughts right now. They sound like a jumbled mess of noise. Would someone please wake up and Talk to me?