Sunday, September 3, 2017

Reflection on the Journey of Life: A Mysterious and Beautiful Christianity

The simple act of going for a walk can be such an engaging experience.  I need it actually, after the long day.  So many days are spent doing mindless tasks repetitively.  It's like my mind unleashes during the long night walks.  I wish I could do it more often.  But winter is coming.  And the nights will be cold.

It's beautiful out.  Darkness is beautiful.  The trees are beautiful.  The moments are often quite beautiful.  There is so much work to be done.  And so few to do it.  

Life is so mysterious.  There are so many paradoxes.  It's so easy to get sucked into the daily go, go, go.  And there are so many screens.  There are so many glowing screens that we all stare at.  What I wonder is really going on here?  How can I understand the world from my Christian worldview, through the Bible, which is in fact the truth about life?  

What's really happening out there?  Yes, out there, on the streets, in the world?  What does everything really mean?  I know what I've been told it all means.  But I was brought up into a naturalistic view of the world.  Now I realize and understand that materialism is a veil, it's not the truth about life.  Christianity is the truth about everything, I've come to know.  How does that impact literally everything?  Because assuming it's true, it does affect everything fundamentally.  

I can't put it in any box.  I can't get close enough to God.  We act like we can see God in his fullness now. But we can't.  Christ is given freely, the Spirit is given, but the fullness of the presence and dominion of God is shrouded.  So we live indirectly in the presence of God now, with the promise of the completeness of His presence later.  And a remade universe, a remade Earth.  One thing is certain: More will be revealed.  

It's a fight to remain in the truth.  The world has a lot of allurements.  At times, especially when frustrated or depressed, I can feel the call of it.  The call to do what feels good in the short term.  It's so powerful at times.  The temptations are real.  

The temptation hangs out there.  And it's like I'm starving in the desert, sun scorched skin, and a mouth as dry as the sierra desert.  That temptation looks so sweet, like a jug of fine swedish spring water.  Or a decadent cupcake.  Or a beautiful woman in her prime.  It's insanely alluring.  And I'm exhausted, physically, mentally, frustrated, half-awake, pessimistic, and I just want something, anything to feel good for just a moment.  But that temptation is a lie.  It is not water in the desert, it's poison in the desert.  It's a spiked waterhole, it's salt water to hasten my demise.  

I may find myself in the desert like Jesus in ministry, in the Christian life.  Let us not forget that it was the Spirit who led Jesus into the desert.  It was a time of testing that would end with angels gathered around to tend to his wounds.  

The temptation in the desert is offered as a permanent stay in the desert, disguised as a temporary escape.   

Let's continue.

Rebuilding a broken empire (myself) is in fact quite difficult.  But I have help.  The struggles are very visceral and real.  Life becomes very real on this journey.  It's too real.  The best way to describe it is that it's like the gnashing of teeth.  It's like gritting my teeth, grinding them hard, when they shouldn't be grinding at all, just to get through everyday.  Everyday... oi vey, full of awkward moments, difficult decisions, tense situations where I could just crawl out of my skin.  It's very tough.  Too many moments I feel filled with a sense of discouragement. Perhaps more so, a sense that things won't work out as I want them to.  Which happens to be true, they won't work out how I want them to, they'll work out how God wants them to. 

Yet a general sense of discomfort haunts me through life, a sense of unease.  Discomfort with life I suppose is what it is, with how things go everyday, discomfort with society, media, and the crumbling culture around me.  

Better strap on the armor of God, because it ain't gonna get any easier!  The darkness descends.  The dark rift.  We live in a time in history when western man turns away from God.  We live in a time of corruption, starvation, human trafficking, unborn child sacrifice, and utter confusion.  Things seem to be falling apart don't they?  But often in history, when things seem to be falling apart, they are actually coming together. 

I sat in the home of a retired minister, asking her about her copy of the works of Josephus.  She said that she doesn't envy the difficult times that are ahead for my generation.  I thought for a few moments, and I said,"Well, maybe we're made for the times we're in."

I'm not the first to say that, but I think it remains true today.  I find myself in times of discomfort, it's true, yet I also find myself in times of great encouragement.  And I find myself caught on fire with the very Spirit of God.  You see he has built me up, and made me new. The broken kingdom that was my soul is come back to life.  

I've entered a new phase of my life now, and it's come with many changes, good and bad. But my faith has grown a great deal.  I expect that God will get me through all that I encounter.  And there is the feeling of being held up above the fray in many ways, in my soul and in my heart.  God makes the impossible, possible.  That's not a pithy idiom to me, but a fact of life.  There is great depth to that statement that we can miss if we toss it aside too quickly as a cheesy remark.

Whatever your facing in your life, I'll hope you'll be encouraged in that God makes the impossible, possible.  I hope you'll take time for quiet reflection in your own life, to walk the dark streets, or doing the day, and reflect on the glories of God's greatness in your life.  

Think about the world, and think about what it means that God is behind everything.  Think about how Christianity changes your view of the world.  Because it does impact everything.  It really does.  I'm amazed at that simple fact.  

His impact on us personally though, is perhaps more provocative than comprehending his evidences in the natural world.  He has put to work a comprehensive process in my life which is quite startling.  He has saved me, justified me by the blood of Jesus.  That's the first big move.  Second he gets me clean from all the drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, lustful thoughts, over-eating, and anxieties of the past.  Next he puts me to work in the world, in a good job.  Then he puts me into college, and brings me through magna cum laude.  

Then He brings a sacred realization, what we in the holiness movements call "second blessing."  We realize as William Booth did: "God must have all there is of me."  God must not have simply 80% or 92% or 99.4%, but 100% of who we are.  

God then implores us to say "no" to sin.  

God then implores us to say "yes" to holiness.

Next God called me to full time ministry.  Called, and consecrated, meaning entirely given over to the calling He places upon us.  

What amazing transformations and challenges are ahead on this journey?  I'm really excited to find out.  Fundamentally though whatever happens, I'll never forget, God is good.  He gives and He takes away, so blessed is His name.  

People need Jesus, so I better tell them, if I'm not too much of a coward to do that. I'm so afraid. But I also believe. And I'm learning to be bold. But what about those others? The only thing worse than fear or cowardice would be to not even care about the lost souls out there... Don't be afraid to care.  And don't be afraid to look like a fool; If that's possible.  

I've seen broken souls transformed, like my own.  In this short time, to watch so many people changed, to watch so many people grow, and to watch so many things changed based on prayers I've personally prayed, it says to me: Wow!  This is astonishing, and I don't deserve it.  So I better get to it. 

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