Hail violently pelted my car. Knuckles white and body tensed, I gripped the steering wheel, gently apply pressure to the gas. I expected a window to bust out at any moment. I couldn’t find any place to safely shelter. Cars sat stubbornly beneath the overpasses, leaving anyone stuck behind them with nowhere to go. My… Continue reading Riding out the Storm
"Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain.... they are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful." Mark 4.7, 18-19,… Continue reading The Danger of Apathy
"I" problems are nothing new.
There's a lot of discussion regarding the "I" problems among Christians today, particularly in a culture still learning to navigate social media. So much emphasis is placed numbers---number of likes, number followers, number of shares, dollars earned, etc. The "self" focus has become even more pervasive. It's slipping into Christian music and books. It's becoming deeply ingrained in church culture, particularly in America.
It's time to shift our focus.
We carefully construct plans for our vacations, finances, homes, futures, etc., only to have them violently overturned in an instant. Our disappointment is only rivaled by an intense feeling of helplessness as we watch smoke rising from the charred remains.
"The best laid schemes of mice and men go often askew..."
You may (or may not) have noticed fewer blog posts lately. Many of my own careful plans (including blogging) have been repeatedly upended this year. So, if you're feeling a bit frustrated, I'm right there with you!
So what can you and I learn from the ashes of our ruined plans?
Within our congregations, and even the broad spectrum of the "Christian" community, there are people who are considered "pillars" by virtue of their status, deeds, or popularity. They might be the individual who brought us to Christ, the preacher in our local church, or a widely respected speaker or author. Sometimes these pillar-people are dear friends or members of our own family. Pillars all have something in common: they are human, just like you and me.
As a child of God, you are swimming against the current. If you try doing this alone (without Christ) it won't work. You will fail. We need Christ---His power, His wisdom, and His saving grace. Jesus also established the church so we would have support from fellow believers.
Within each one of us is a longing to be seen. It is this very longing that makes social media such a powerful medium. Every post offers a glimpse into our daily life. We can share our favorite foods, our cute pets, our cutting complaints, our magical moments. Better still, we get to control how much we reveal, making our lives look "practically perfect in every way"! Yet does anybody---on social media or in our day-to-day---really see us as we are? Do they see our grueling work (or, at times, embarrassing laziness)? Do they see the tears? The frustrations? The joys? The longings?
When our valleys last longer than expected, the people we expect to be with us grow fewer and farther between. Take, for instance, the long road of grief. When we lose someone, there is an instant outpouring of support. The refrigerator fills with meals. Phones vibrate with texts. The ads in the mailbox get outnumbered by sympathy cards. The scent of lilies and roses permeates every nook and cranny of our home. Our front door becomes a revolving door as people come and go in order to sit with us, and possibly cry with us. Within a few weeks (or even days), the flow of support slows to a trickle. Life moves on, but the grief does not. And that, my friends, is one of many such valleys. Take heart, God will get you through your valley.
People used to say things like, "the devil made me do it," or "I can't help it, I was born this way!" Even in the Garden of Eden, Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent. The facts remain clear: our own desire lures us into sin.
Wishing to be someone else or longing for life to be different sounds understandable on the surface---particularly in our culture where self-fulfillment and happiness are counted among the highest goals. However, there is an underlying insidiousness in these longings.
Am I looking at what God has given me as though it isn't good... or isn't good enough?