He is Jealous for Me

Last re-post! We’ve finally caught up! Some of you might remember this one.


I’ve often wondered why the Bible describes God as a jealous God all over the place; Exodus, Deuteronomy, Joshua… and yet commands us, “you shall not covet.”

At first glance, seems a little hypocritical, contradictory, right?

Jealousy. Envy. Covetousness. Our culture has amalgamated these three words and made them synonymous, when the reality is that though there are subtle differences, that’s all it takes to completely change the meaning of the text.

Exodus 20:17 says, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.

Of course, one of the 10 commandments. I’ve heard this sometimes translated as “you shall not envy.”

ENVY: A feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck.

Or,

ENVY: Desire to have a quality, possession, or other desirable attribute belonging to something or someone else.

Pretty straightforward, usually what most people think envy means.

Now COVET on its own, means to yearn, to crave for a possession – a person, a quality, an object, anything. That possession may not be already owned.

But of course in this case, “you shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbour,” is very much in the realm of envy. The reason though, that I think they used covet rather than envy, is because it is driven by a desire, a craving, rather than resentment. I’m sure someone, a scholar who has read this text in its original language could answer this much better than I.

Well okay, I’ve told you more or else what you already know.

JEALOUSY: Fiercely protective or vigilant of one’s rights or possessions.

I’d first heard of the difference between envy and jealousy last week in my first acting class. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but when I was reminded that our God is a jealous God… it was very much a do-you-know-what-this-means?!? kind of moment.

Fiercely protective.

See, envy is about possessing that which isn’t yet yours… but jealousy is almost the opposite. Jealousy is about preventing the loss of what you already possess.

Some people will say that God’s most important quality is His love.

Some of you are reading that and thinking, ‘you say that like it isn’t.’

It is important, yes, but overwhelmingly, I think it’s God’s holiness. The fact that He is perfect, whole, complete, set apart. His love for us is an overflow of the love between the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again, God doesn’t need us. He doesn’t need our love to be complete, He is complete, He is a community, it’s not like He’s lonely without us.

And yet… He is fiercely protective. Fiercely.

If you look at the contexts of the old testament passages that describe God as a jealous God, it is in relation to idolatry…

If you’re like me, whenever you catch yourself putting anything above God, or putting God under other things, you pray and repent, and learn and grow from that “season.” And growing is good. But then you fall for it again. And again. And again. And you feel guilt, and shame. What’s wrong with me? Why do I keep stumbling, why does this keep happening? Did I not do it right? Did I not truly repent?

And behind those questions is a growing doubt, a seedling of a lie that says that even in Christ you are worthless, beyond saving, and a complete failure.

But God is sovereign. He is true. He is holy. It’s not about us in the slightest.

Once you are God’s, nothing in all creation can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.

He is fiercely protective. Of us. Our idols, whatever they may be, are under His control, nothing in our walk or our journey or our relationship with God happens without crossing His desk first, so to speak.

Obviously, don’t actively go and sin, but when you do stumble, and we all will, see if you can figure out what God is trying to get at. What I mean is, our stumbling in sin is not a punishment, or ‘haha look how worthless you are.’ It is a tool meant for us to learn. Maybe the first time it’s to learn humility. Then the next time to learn surrender. Then the next time to learn gratitude. Then trust. Not only that, every time we learn a new lesson from the same “exercise,” we often apply what we already learned.

As a result, every time, whether we know it or not, we come out of a “stumbling” learning something, and every time, our Father is using that lesson to protect us in the future. Making us holy. Teaching us, guiding us, to becoming more and more like Christ. Transforming us, rather than condemning us, grace rather than judgement.

He is jealous for me
Loves like a hurricane
I am a tree, bending beneath
The weight of His wind and mercy
 
When all of a sudden
I am unaware of these
Afflictions eclipsed by glory
And I realize just how beautiful You are
And how great your affections are for me
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I’ll Remember You Forever

Re-post. I may have to update this list after I graduate. I’ve had the privilege to learn from exceptional teachers who also happen to be professors.


This article caught my attention:

This kid says she’ll remember this teacher when she’s 75.

Take a look, I’ll wait.

I get the feeling that having a teacher that inspires you is a rare thing these days. I could be wrong. I hope I am. There are the fun ones, the brilliant ones, the lazy ones, the strict ones, and any combination of these labels.

But the ones that you remember forever are the ones that cared – not just about what you did in class, but what you’ll do after your time with them is up. The ones that cared about YOU, mostly academically and often times otherwise. They made that their job.

They’re the ones that even though they had a student label – crazy, harsh, chill, etc. nobody really cared what it was.

I hope that as you were watching the video and as you’re reading this post (if anyone is reading this post) that at least one name comes to mind – one teacher that you’ll remember forever. In a life season where everything is spinning on its head at unfathomable speeds – that is, adolescence of course – I think it’s important, nay essential, to have someone with a true gift for teaching there to keep you focused, to nurture your learning. Not just to discover what you’re good at, but who you are.

They may not realise they’re contributing to your discovery of your identity at the time (or maybe they will). You probably won’t either. I certainly didn’t.

I have no idea what the average number of inspiring teachers people have in high school is these days, but I can tell you that I had the honour, blessing and privilege of 4 of them. And here’s what I learned from each (in no particular order).

MR. BAYAT – Gr. 11 and 12 physics and chemistry.

He was my tutor, and I was jealous of his students at the high school he taught at.
Up until grade 11 physics, school was a blast and a breeze and my biggest fear was getting an 85.

For the first time in my life, I was failing. (On the bright side, pride was no longer much of an issue afterwards.)

My confidence evaporated at an astronomical rate in moles per second and my heart plummeted to my stomach with a force and acceleration greater than that of gravity everytime any sort of evaluation came up.

Like a racing altimeter on a crashing plane, every mark update was painful.

I had never failed a test before. I never had to ask for after school help before. Why was this happening? I failed once and it shook my world. It also seeded my dislike for learning physics and to a lesser degree, chemistry.

My identity was in my marks. Failing once meant that I was a failure. “It’s just one set back” never got processed in my brain. It was inexplicable and illogical and silly, and yet that’s how blindsided I was by it.

Bayat helped me get the grade – I impressed a handful of people with my improvement. He also achieved the impossible by making my least favourite subjects (because they were my weakest) fascinating, if not enjoyable.

But let’s not talk about the academics since, despite my success I remember nothing and am very far away from the academic fields of chemistry and physics. Obviously what I took away from learning under him, was not academic.

Lesson 1: DON’T GIVE UP. Teachers ought to care simply that you learn. Whether it’s from their lectures or your mistakes is irrelevant.

Lesson 2: TALENT can be measured in potential – how far you can go with what you have. Not how you or others judge your performance. You are more than a percentage.

Lesson 3: BE CONFIDENT in what you’ve learned. Defend yourself, respectfully challenge your teachers and your peers, be grateful when corrected. The point is learning.

In many respects, I learned these 3 lessons over and over again from all four of these teachers, every year I had them. Same lessons, different numbers — situations.

MS. GOLDMAN – Gr. 11 English.

She was an LTO, a long-term on-call while my much stricter English teacher was on mat leave.

I was doing alright in 3UENG but not as well as I hoped, in terms of numbers. It’s important to note however that at my high school, an 80 meant you were considered a genius. If not in English language and literature, then in pinpointing exactly what your teacher wants to read amidst an infinite range of subjective interpretation. I’m not sure which type I was. I didn’t feel like either.

Ms. Goldman was a refreshing change after that first half of the semester, and some marks started to climb.

Now, I won’t comment or compare with how the two teachers marked us. Again, what I took away from being Ms. Goldman’s student was not academic.

Like the other three names in this post, the first thing I noticed when she started teaching us is that she genuinely cared about the work we submitted, and how that reflected us as individuals, as a class and as a school.

She was actively participating in this unspoken dialogue, interacting with us on such a level that her students could believe her when she gave positive feedback and trust her when she gave constructive criticism. And we loved her for it.

This is perhaps the strongest theme or trait these four names have in common:

She cared, and that made us care about the subject, our work, ourselves and each other, whether we liked or were good at English or not.

But for me personally, I’ll remember her forever because she embraced creativity and taught and encouraged me to do the same, whether she realised it or not.

Many projects in that class had very little guidelines. It could be as insightfully crazy as you wanted or as crazily insightful or just standard clear and concise.

No matter how you learned, the point was that you learned.

For me, that was writing an 11 page (~12K words) “sequel” to Shelley’s Frankenstein.

I’d been writing stories for most of my life. But this project. The comments she left and the mark I got left me more than chuffed. I was stunned that she actually read it all. But that selfish pride soon faded away. After all, she was just one person.

And yet, one person is enough. It wasn’t the comments or the mark that did it. Anyone can slap a number on something. But when she handed it back to me, her eyes seemed to smile, “I’m proud of you.”

Then my mom read it and said so audibly. She was genuinely impressed as well, unlike some other times, but she’s my mom… So bias is a factor.

Anyway, after that, and only after that, did I actually begin to think that maybe writing was something to consider.

But it was a thought too dream-like to indulge and I didn’t want to admit it to myself. As a result, it took a couple years for me to go actually dive in and go for it. In the meantime, those two years were spent experimenting… literally and figuratively. It was painful. And necessary.

MRS. HEISLER – Gr.10 Math

I realize I’m going in backwards order here. I should correct what I said with Ms. Goldman. She only reaffirmed what I learned with Mrs. Heisler a year earlier.

Much in the same way, those grade 10 “anything projects” allowed me to let my creativity loose.

1. Create a comic STRIP explaining how to solve a binomial expansion.

…I created a 27 page Stargate-based comic booklet.

(She’s a fan, don’t worry.)

2. Create a presentation on how to use the quadratic formula.

…I spent a couple weeks creating an espionage choose your own adventure on Keynote for the class to play, with me as the game master.

I’ll never forget what she told me on the last day of class:

“I would love to open up your head and explore your brain one day.”

It was, and perhaps still is, my favourite compliment I’ve ever received.

learned in that class, and not at all in the conventional way. I learned because I was allowed to be creative without fear. I was allowed, because she was creative without fear. (I still remember some of the many QF songs we heard).

MR. COLLEY – Gr. 9 – 12 Music.

Yep, so this is definitely in backwards order. As my first high school teacher I ever met, this whole narrative might have begun with him.

From the moment I met him, I could tell he was one of the crazy ones. But also one of the kind ones. Then I was a student in his class, and I saw the way he worked. His passion for music, but more importantly his passion for students and their growth, academic primarily, but otherwise as well. (Well maybe not physically. Although he did poke fun at us shorties.)

It was the first time I’d seen anyone fulfilling their calling and it blew my mind. I wasn’t the first and certainly won’t be the last. Secretly, I think it’s why people stay in the music program for all 4 years.

Yeah the marks are easy, the trips are fun, but the rehearsal hours can be brutal – and yet Colley is always, always ready to go. (With his never ending coffee supply of course.)

I can’t speak for the hundreds of students he’s had and whose names he somehow never forgets, but even if I wasn’t a band geek already, I might have stayed just to see what he would do next, how he would do it and why.

There was something different about him. Other teachers care, but he’s next level. He’s genuine, he’s tough, and he’s hilarious. Perhaps the three key things a teacher needs to help students learn and grow in a healthy way.

(Let me be the first to admit that I am no pedagogical expert – these are simply my observations based on my personal experiences)

When I learned that he was also a brother in Christ… Suddenly things made so much more sense, and things clicked very quickly.

Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to be Christian to be a great teacher. Many of them aren’t, and conversely, very few who are, are akin to Colley.

What I do mean is that the “why?”s could be answered.

Why get to school before 7 am and stay til 5 to help students? Why listen diligently to all 300+ students play up to 48 scales each? Why push and spur on a student when it would be understandable if he gave up on them?

This is what he was made to do. Encouraging students is his passion, music is his skill. He did not openly preach the gospel, that wasn’t his job.

Instead he taught us to work diligently, to find our passion, to encourage and be encouraged, to build community, and to care and listen to one another unconditionally. What’s more is that he taught us – or me anyway – all this with his actions first, across the 4 years, and his words last, during our last day together as a band.

It was during my one on one sessions with him that he taught me to put my identity in Christ. Not marks nor praise. In Christ alone.

He loved us first, so we too must love others with the same unconditional love that is manifest in how we use our gifts and talents.

Now… I can’t help but feel a bit vain going on about my greatest high school academic successes throughout this post.

So I’ll sum up what the connection between all of this and my life now to show that in many ways, I am indeed who I am today because of these people and their success at what I call real, true, teaching.

Without Mr. Bayat, I would not have the confidence or patience to persevere after a failed script or query.

Without Ms. Goldman, I would not have thought to be remotely capable of writing anything entertaining or worth reading.

Without Mrs. Heisler, I would never have the guts to share my work with other creatives, let alone the more sane people.

Without Mr. Colley, I would not have seen what being the light and the salt of the earth or a calling fulfilled, looks like in real life.

These people and so many others like them need medals for both leading by example and then passing that example on in their students. Who and where would we be without them?

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The Will of God

Re-post. Tricky stuff.


What is God’s will? More importantly, what is God’s will for me?

Seems to be a question on many minds, a question that haunts us whenever big decisions have to be made.

It always feels like the answer is so hard to discern we become as impatient as Sarah and try to help God out. My servant will have a child for me. I will handle this. God let me choose a sign. If this happens, this is your will, if that happens, that is your will. Let me handle this.

Suddenly “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven” isn’t so easy.

Just words, empty words. Almost an incantation.

Surely the Bible has something about God’s will for us! …right?

Except we want answers now. And specifics. The bible doesn’t have the specifics to your particular life trajectory. Don’t flatter yourself.

So what are the “go to” verses? Trust in the Lord. Fear not. Take heart. Love the Lord your God. Be strong and courageous. Glorify His name.

Encouraging in their contexts, and very much a light in our time of darkness.

But difficult all the same.

And still kind of vague about God’s actual will. These are more by products of us being and doing His will.

If we were doing God’s will, of course we would trust Him, of course we would not fear, of course we would love him and be strong and glorify him.

But how do we know if we’re there or not?

And then that anxiety starts up again and we’re three steps behind square one.

Believe it or not, the Bible states is very plainly. So much so we often miss it. Just like that.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing and give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

1) REJOICE ALWAYS.

Difficult to do, especially on those nasty mornings.

2) PRAY ALWAYS.

Also difficult to do. Most first reactions are along the lines of:

Whaa…?
Excuse me?
Come again?
That’s not even possible… Is it?

Come on God, we’ve got things to do, places to be… People to save?

3) GIVE THANKS ALWAYS.

This is the punchline we almost always miss.

Needless to say, difficult to do.

But the first two, especially the second, have already blown our minds, we’re already dismissing and not registering perhaps the most important of the three.

If we gave thanks to God, we would always be rejoicing.

If we gave thanks to God, we would always be praying and communicating with him.

If we gave thanks to God, we wouldn’t have the entitlement mentality of this generation to have our cake and eat it too. We wouldn’t need specific answers. We wouldn’t want God’s will to really be our will. We’d be giving thanks for everything He has already given us and done for us.

In essence, we wouldn’t be “seeking God’s will” because we’d already be in it.

He doesn’t need you to do anything for Him. All he wants you to do is give thanks with a grateful heart.

Look at the contrast between King Melchizedek and the King of Sodom in Genesis 14.

After being rescued from captivity, Sodom’s first words are “Give me.”
Melchizedek says “Blessed be God Most High, possessor of Heaven and Earth.”

#blessed.

So when you’re anxious about that job? When you’re worrying about your future? When you’re afraid that you’ll be wrong about what to do next? When you’re tempted to take matters into your own hands to get the results you want to see? When you’re seeking God’s will?

Give thanks. Look back on the beautiful work He just finished up in your life. It’ll make you wonder how magnificent are the days to come.

And then look further… To the endless days of His kingdom. How excited are you? How grateful are you? How mind blown are you by His grace and unconditional love that He gave up everything, including his life, so you could see and experience that?

God’s will? Simple, yet challenging. Give thanks.

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Oceans

Re-post. Still learning to apply this one.


Long post today.

I read this article today on the shape of the industry I’m thinking of entering, and all the social dynamics, etc. Of course they’re things that I already knew, and that people have been telling me, and what I’ve been studying in class… But hearing it yet again made it that much more real, especially from a scholarly article (not to dismiss all the other people who told me the same thing.)

To diverge a little, you know when every once in a while, this one song resonates so strongly with you that you listen to it over and over and over again? It may not necessarily be your favourite song, it just speaks to you and puts into words what you’ve been feeling, or what you need to feel. Right now, for me, that song is Oceans by Hillsong.

You call me out upon the water
The great unknown,
Where feet may fail.

Those are the first few lines of the song and they grabbed me instantly. The rest of the lyrics are just as resonant for me, but I won’t type it all out here. However, the bridge is what I really want to talk about:

Spirit lead me where by trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever you would call me.
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my saviour.

The more I listen to it, the more I think about it, and the more I sing it. And as always, be careful what you sing, and be careful what you sing as a prayer… Because it’s when you don’t fully realize what you’re asking God that he shows you what those words mean. In other words, He answers that prayer. Which is good… it also means that you’re in for some exciting turbulence, good and “bad.”

So let’s see. Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders? Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander? Well I definitely feel like I’m in the deep end.

I was revisiting the Doctor Who series 5 two part finale as a little treat for myself after finishing the day’s studying, and the Doctor said something interesting. (Well, I know… When does he not?)

Doctor: I need you to trust me.
Amy: But you don’t always tell the truth.
Doctor: If I always told you the truth, I wouldn’t have to ask you to trust me.

Makes sense. Most characters believe everything the Doctor says because he’s clever and will gladly tell you “I told you so” in some way if you don’t. But as has been repeated on several occasions, Rule number 1: The Doctor lies.

So if the Doctor told the truth all the time, and he said everything is going to be all right, no one would have to ask, “is that a lie?” And he wouldn’t have to answer, “quite possibly.” They’d trust him. All that being said, most of the time, the characters trust him anyway. Wouldn’t make for a satisfying story if they didn’t.

If I always told you the truth, I wouldn’t have to ask you to trust me.

If that statement makes sense… Then why does this happen:

1. I believe that God always tells the truth.
2. He asks us to trust him.
3. It should be a quick yes because of #1 (in theory).
4. But we don’t.

Or at least I don’t, not in this situation. I wish I did, and I tell myself I do, but I know I don’t because deep down I’m still worrying.

What if this isn’t the right way?
What if you’re not calling me to this industry?
What if all these sacrifices are made and it turns out that they were for nothing and based on hollow dreams?
What if I don’t have the patience and persistence I think I have and I lose my resolve and quit?
What if I do end up regretting this path and the warnings people are giving me will haunt me til I see you?
What if I don’t make enough to survive in a world where the cost of living is going up every year?

Hmm. The cost of living. I wonder how Jesus would define that. But that’s for another post.

Even as I type those questions, they seem so silly and materialistic, and I know that asking them is asking the wrong questions. And yet there they are.

Well, first thing. How do I know that this is where I think I’m being called. Honestly, I’m not sure that I do. I do know, that nothing makes me feel more alive… Like I’m a machine that’s figured out what it can do. A few other times, I felt the same way and I thought I was being led in one direction, but then it passed. This could be a phase… But whether it is or not, all the other other times taught me something, and deepened my understanding of something in some way, and opened the door to the next “phase.”

I could just be justifying all this to make myself feel better, but through all the “phases,” they still had the same goal, but a different form. (Hehe, not unlike the last of the Timelords himself… Different shapes, different personalities, same person.) Each phase was born out of the last. So is this a phase? Maybe, but in other ways, not really.

Second thing. I’ve said it before, but… Does it matter? Does what I do or end up doing and how I do it matter? Well… Yes and no.

No not really, because God has a goal in mind, and can use anything to achieve it. If we were all tools in a shed, He could MacGyver paperclips into a bicycle. The question is, why?

If a screwdriver says I want to hammer nails… It’s possible to do it if you’re creative enough, but it wouldn’t be as good as the hammer’s job and… Why on earth would you let the screwdriver hammer nails? So it does matter what you do in terms of what you were made to do, but it’s God thats doing the work through you.

Also, it’s a humbling and relieving reminder that whatever God is building… He could do it with his bare hands. He doesn’t need us. But how are the tools in the shed going to know what they can do and what they were made to do if they aren’t used?

To sum up all that… This is today’s verse if the day:

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.

Isaiah 40:28

I don’t know what you’re doing God, I don’t know how this is all going to get figured out, but I know that you’ll pull through and that you mean it when you say that you will provide and you will deliver because you love me.

Well… I know with my head, but do I believe with my heart?

The first verse of Oceans alludes a little to this passage, when Jesus walks on the water and calls Peter to do the same:

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.

Matthew 14:22-33 ESV

“Immediately.” Interesting word choice. The instant the crowds started to form, Jesus sent the disciples ahead of him. He sent them out, separating them from the crowds. And while they did that, He did his own work. We’re the disciples aware of what he was doing? Maybe, maybe not. But when God sends us out, He sets us apart and protects us from the swarms of people. I think it’s because we’re delicate and easily influenced. As sensitive to noise as a soufflé. (I’m on a roll with these DW references…)

Anyway, when we are sent ahead, we’re also kind of distanced from Him. But we know He’s never far, and we know He’s busy doing something that will help is out later. We may not know what, but we know He is.

And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.

I wonder if the disciples were praying. Jesus prayed after dismissing the crowds… Did people exhaust him spiritually, or did he just enjoy the presence of the Father that much? Both? When and why do we pray then?

When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them.

Evening?! Whoa, he prayed for hours. I feel guilt tripped.

Anyway, the boat was a long way from land. Here we go, take me deeper than my feet could ever wander. They are in the deep end. Not only are they in the deep end, the waves were beating the boat, the wind was blowing against them. We’ve got to remember, that these are fishermen. Did they see signs of the storm? Probably. Surely, their instincts and red flags were going nuts. This is terrible weather! They shouldn’t be out here, it’s not safe, and who would blame them for regretting coming out here in the first place.

But then again… Did they have much choice in the matter? Jesus sent them ahead. Plus, at the time, between boat and noisy crowds… Boat won.

And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea.

Fourth watch?! How late and how long were they on the rough seas? I guess like them, we don’t know when Jesus will come back from whatever He does without us, we just know that He will. It could be short, could be a while. But when He does, it’ll look awesome. Come on, “he came to them, walking on the sea.” Think about that.

1) Sea
2) Walking

The sea is raging and the storm is howling, and He’s on it, fully exposed. More than that, He’s WALKING. Not running, not trying to protect himself, not sinking for that matter, He’s completely calm when everything is not… when the disciples have no idea what’s going on.

But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear.

I don’t know if the disciples were terrified because they saw him walking on the sea, or if amidst all the chaos and danger, seeing someone walking on water just freaked them out. Not unreasonably I guess… it’s not like they’ve seen someone do that before.

Ghost! Fear! Again… Did they really believe in ghosts, given what they believed about where souls go, or did they just have death on their minds as they got tossed around in the storm like salad?

But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

There’s that word again, immediately. The disciples were far enough away to mistake Jesus for a ghost, and a raging storm isn’t quiet. So Jesus has super hearing. Or telepathy. Or knew what they were going to say and when, in order to reply immediately. But if you believe He’s God then… Of course he does. He knows our thoughts. What I wanna know, is how did the disciples hear Him?

Also, “take heart (have courage), it is I. Do not be afraid.” As much as I don’t blame the disciples for freaking out… Jesus is right (duh).

The disciples just saw Jesus do miracles and speak with authority with the crowds. You’ve heard his voice before, so don’t you recognize it? Not a ghost. Jesus is there, and is WALKING. ON. WATER. If He can do that, is it really that much of a leap to believe that He’ll calm the storm, or at least keep you safe from it?

Oh man. Anyone else drawing parallels from that last paragraph? We’ve seen God in action before. We’ve heard his voice before, so why don’t we listen to Him, or believe it when he says, “Have courage, do not be afraid.” We don’t know exactly what He’s doing, or how He’s doing it, but it’s strange and mysterious and magnificent. If we can see Him do that and hear Him say that… Is it that much of a leap to trust Him with the storms that are shaking up our lives?

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.

Okay. So Peter heard and recognized Jesus. But he’s still unsure ’cause he asked for proof. Or is it?

“Command me to come to you on the water.” Is that Peter’s pride or faith talking, thinking that he can reach Jesus? Or does he just really want to walk on water? I would.

Often times when we’re unsure about a decision, or at least for me, I find myself praying for signs, or for open doors, to know that, yes, this is where I’m supposed to go and what I’m supposed to do. But shouldn’t his word be enough?

And then He humours us anyway, well with Peter in this case. He commands with one word: come. He doesn’t say go, or do, He says come. Come towards him, and He will make a way for you to do it, to get closer to him. It’s not us that’s allows us to walk on water, it’s all Him. Drawing us near. Peter obeyed, and Peter walked on water, just like Jesus. When we obey… What will He allow us to do despite the winds and the rain and the waves trying to knock us down? He cant be knocked down, and He won’t let us either. Not permanently.

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”

Um. Okay. I thought wind was invisible. And they’re on water, it’s not like there were flapping trees and bending trunks. Was it snow? Was it big waves being snatched up into the air by the wind? That’s a strong wind. A fearsome wind. So yeah, that would be scary.

But Jesus is RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU PETER.

Yes. Isn’t he just. He’s always right in front of us, telling us to come, to have courage, to not have a spirit of fear.

Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Immediately. As soon as Peter began to sink, Jesus was on him, reaching out to him, and holding him, keeping him from drowning or being harmed or touched by the storm.

“O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Excellent question.

We know it’s Jesus because we’ve seen him do extraordinary things before. We know its Him because we recognize His “voice.” We even ask for “signs” or “proof,” and a lot of times we get it. We get a little closer to Him, close enough to hear him properly, which is close enough to see his face… and yet we STILL DOUBT.

And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Jesus gets into our boat. He knows what it’s like to be in the storm, to feel the waves beating the boat. He also brings back friends changed or grown.

But still, we only worship when the winds cease.

So I will call upon your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in your embrace.
For I am yours
And You are mine.

Spirit lead me. Take me deeper. Strengthen my faith. Deepen my trust in You.

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Hollywood and the Trinity

Re-post from last year. This is me trying to make sense of the Trinity. For now, I still stand by this analogy, I think it works. But here’s another one that I heard soon after posting this:
The Trinity is like the Sun.
The Father is the star itself.
The Son is the light that we see and that exposes us and that shows us where we’re going.
The Spirit is the warmth of the sun, what we feel when we feel God’s presence, and what keeps us alive.

This past Sunday, Will touched a bit on the Trinity. To me that’s always been a weird thing to explain to people, even to Christians. Sometimes I’d use the egg analogy, but it never quite sounded like the satisfying answer I thought it should have been.
For those of you who don’t know, the egg analogy goes something like this: If you see an eggshell, you can describe it as EGG. If you see a hard boiled egg white, you can describe it as EGG. If you see an egg yoke, you could describe it as EGG. But you can never look at one, and describe it as the other two.
In the same way, the three persons of the Trinity are God, and fully God, but are not each other.
But the parts of an egg, are 3 that make a whole, where God is whole in each of his 3 persons. He’s 300% God, and awesome because of it.
Will put it this way, God is in three persons, and each of them have distinct roles, but are fully God. But what does that mean? Back to that in a bit.
Oscar season just came and went, and people are celebrating over the winners, carping over who should have won, and poking fun in general. Well, maybe just with Leo.
Anyway, we’re going through the different roles and doing a sort of “who’s who” in my Theatre Studies class and someone mentioned this: The writer is god and the director is king.
Well this is interesting. What do these people do that make people say that?
(bear with me, blogging and studying for the exam kills two birds with one stone. NOTE: no birds were harmed in the writing of this post.)
The writer. The creator, the one who uses words and stories to figure out a particular problem in life and culture. What they write and say is the blue print for the set, the wellspring of ideas, its potential infinite in terms of creative interpretation. It’s where the themes are, it’s where the plot comes from, it’s where the characters’ psyches are mapped out. It is, the source. What is on the page, goes.
The director. They’re the ones that bring it all together, that make sure all the different production components are speaking the same message, are scoring the same themes, are telling the same story. From the actors, to the set design, they piece together this billion piece puzzle into something extraordinary. Their goal is to reconcile the world of the stage or the screen, with reality. To elicit a particular response from the audience, because that is what all art is. Ed Roy, who came to talk about what he does (and is a fantastic speaker) said (something like) this and I love it: “all art is a reaction to the artist’s cultural and living conditions and times.” Directors have to understand the context of the real world in order to make the hypothetical world relevant and engaging to the audience.
The actor. They bring the character to life, they put a face to this personality, they inhabit and exhibit the story through dialogue, monologue, soliloquy and action, or lack thereof. They become the face, or faces, of the piece. They become the personification of what the writer wanted to get across. They engage directly, or at least most closely, with the audience and the real world. They also disappear in the role. They are still themselves, it’s still their body, their voice, but on stage or on screen, they are equally their character, as defined by the writer. Even after their performance, if they’ve played iconic roles, they continue to represent that character. Sometimes they are recognized as that character rather than themselves. They are, both.
Those of you who can conceptualize the Trinity can probably see where I’m going. And those who don’t, probably can too to some degree… I trust that most people are just as clever if not more so than I.
So what happens when these three jobs or roles, the writer, the director and the actor… Are all done by the same person?
Take Joseph Gordon-Levitt (JGL) for example. He starred in, directed and wrote one of his latest films, Don Jon. What it’s about doesn’t really matter in this post, and I haven’t seen it yet, although from what I understand, it would be a good one to talk about for idolatry. Noting to self.
Anyway, so back to what Will said on Sunday: Each of the three persons of the trinity have distinct roles.
As the writer, JGL had a very specific role, as the director, he had another, and as the actor he had another. He’s got to think about what he wants this movie to say through a story, which is about image. Then he’s got to decide how he’s going make that story relevant and relatable so that the message gets across. Then he’s got to figure out how to paint that picture with people, how to make that message more tangible. At every step, he’s in a different mindset, but with the same goal.
The writer is not the director, the director is not the actor, and the actor is not the writer. BUT.
The writer is JGL. The director is JGL. The actor is JGL. They are the same person.
In the same way, the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, and the Spirit is not the Father.
The Father is God. The Son is God. The Spirit is God.
Distinct rolessame person, and the one person can be up to all three roles at the same timeBut let’s superimpose those parallels.
The writer. The Father. God. The one who creates the story that solves a particular problem. That story is the gospel, and that problem is sin. What He says goes. What He says is law.
The director. The Spirit. God. The one that is in charge of eliciting a response from the audience. You don’t often see the director, but they are the mastermind behind everything, working everything together, putting the puzzle pieces in place. One of the ways they do that, is pointing to the actor, to the set, to the score, to the world, telling the audience, don’t mind me, watch what they do, watch what the actor does and you’ll see what I did, through the actor, during all those hours of rehearsal. The Spirit bears witness to Christ. (Acts 1:8) He’s the one that moves in us, that pulls our heartstrings and gets us to respond to the story, to the Gospel.
The actor. The Son. God. The face of the story, the one acting it out and seeing it through. He engages directly with the audience, speaking at them if not to them. Christ saw the Gospel through, Christ did as he was told by the Father, Christ followed where the Spirit led Him, Christ engaged directly with the world, the audience. He is as the world knows and sees Him, a man, but equally He is as He knows Himself to be, God. Fully God, fully man.
It sounds a little egotistical of God that He’s pointing to Himself all the time, but it’s more than that. He’s not pointing at who Jesus is, as much as He’s pointing at what Jesus did… And who He did it for. He isn’t bragging, He’s telling the story.
Finally, at the risk of repeating myself, let’s put it all together.
The writer writes a story to challenge to world and solve a problem. The director tells that story to the audience through various elements, while putting focus on the actor, who sees the story through and makes it something tangible for the world to understand and engage in.
God wrote the Gospel, to challenge the world and solve this problem of sin. The Spirit, moves in so many of us to tell this story in the wonderfully unique ways we each live our lives, using our lives to point to Christ and what HE DID, not what any of us did. And what is this story, what did He do? Jesus Christ, who was sinless, died for our sin on the cross, paying our debt according to the Father’s law, so that whosoever believes in Him, can be counted as righteous and blameless, and be redeemed and eligible for eternal life.
Also, a writer, director and actor are the three main elements one needs to make a performance. Take one away, and there’s no show, no story.
Not only is the Holy Trinity one person, He is the same God being all three persons at the same time, and He is complete. He is a community in Himself. He doesn’t need us to tell that story for Him. It’s already been told, and told well, by Him.
We just recommend the show and let Him speak for Himself to others.
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What a Wasted Opportunity

Re-post. Any Sherlock fans out there?


What an exhausting day.

Went on something of an adventure, then had something of a workout — physically first, then mentally.

And faithfully abiding by Murphy’s law, sleep escapes me. So here I am. On the internet in the middle of the night. Although it is the middle of the afternoon somewhere. Maybe China.

Anyway… the last episode of Sherlock series 3 airs in just over 12 hours, so for the past month or so, I’ve had the “cumber bumber wumbers” as Simon Pegg articulated so well in an interview. I’ve also infected a few people with it. For those poor victims, I won’t apologize, it’s LOVELY. But if you are concerned, don’t worry, in about 12 hours, you’ll be a mess, to put it mildly. Then it’ll linger for about a week, maybe two, and gradually fade and you’ll be alright for the next 18 months. Then the cycle repeats I’m afraid. The only way to be cured is to have the cast and crew send the show down a drain of disgrace.

But yes, all this to say… thumbs up AND brownie points if you recognize the Sherlock moment from The Sign of Three that the title of this post refers to.

I just watched a Ken Robinson talk on YouTube… If you don’t know who he is, look him up. His talks and his ideas are inspiring.

The topic was much of the same as what he always talks about, which is the need for a reform in education. What I love is that he gets his point across by getting to what he believes is the root of the problem, and that is that people who are brilliant, get told by the current educational system that they’re not.

He gives a few examples of the few cases where this hasn’t happened. Where an individual was encouraged to do something, and not just anything, and not just any way. It’s also important to note that encouragement in one case hindered the person’s success, in another’s it fuelled it, in another’s who knows where that person would be today had he been encouraged.

One person had been encouraged to pursue music all her life. And she did, without a thought. But it wasn’t until much later that she realized that though she was extremely musically talented, it wasn’t her passion, it wasn’t her element. So she became an editor. Because she’s always loved books, cramming them into her busy rehearsal schedules whenever she could. Well, all that money, all those years… “What a wasted opportunity!” echoed Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice in my head when I first heard the story.

She’s never been poorer, but also never happier.

So I thought, what if that happens to me, where I plan this whole thing and then it hits me, faaaaaar into the future what I was meant to do. Or worse, what if I never get that lightbulb moment?

So then my mind proceeded to feed my unhealthy (temporary!) addiction against my better judgement:

“You’ll have a stable life, financially, emotionally, everything will still be alright. More or less. I’d call that a result.”

“Yeah. You’ll have a miserable time at a dull job earning lots of money to sustain yourself for a few decades, doing that thing you don’t enjoy doing. What sort of result do you care about?”

Or as JM would put it…
“Staying alive. So boring! It’s just… STAYING…”

*Combo brownie points for those references.*

Another example that was presented was an Olympic gymnast who could walk on his hands as easily as he could on his feet as a child. He too, was encouraged, leading up to his athletic and successful career.

But think about it. Walking on your hands. Not exactly a practical skill in the wider part of the job market. His parents could’ve easily told him to stop, and to behave, and to do what he’s supposed to do, and walk properly on his feet, the right way round. Instead, his mom encouraged him and is in a way, responsible for his success.

So then I thought… Well, the thing that I love to do, or at least the thing that I think I live to do is a bit strange too. Not as strange as walking on my hands all the time, mind. But if I told people, they’d certainly scoff, internally if not outwardly. I would. Even I’m not totally convinced it can count as a profession. If it does, it certainly isn’t a stable one.

But I’ll tell you one thing. Having one person, just one person, believe in you, and you believe them when they say you can do it, is exhilarating. One person. That’s all the excuse you need, to keep doing what you love no matter what obstacles get thrown at you, and how many and how hard.

So thanks Mom 🙂 If ever that changes… Please just pretend that it hasn’t. Please.

The other example — and I feel I am wildly out of order, but it’s a 3 am blog, not a school paper — is when a student was being sent off to university, and the parents were told to spare him their advice.

So they did, reluctantly. And their son became a classics major. While the study of dead languages was fascinating, the parents knew that it wasn’t exactly a demand in the job market.

Later, the son came up and announced that he changed his mind about his major. He wanted to do something more useful. The parents tried to contain themselves.

He was going to be a philosophy major.

I’m sure the parents could feel the whole in their wallets tear a little wider. I wonder how much it took for them to keep holding back.

Eventually the son changed his mind again and became an art history major, and got a job. I forgot what it was, but he got a decent salary. But that’s not important. What’s important, is that he would never have gotten that job had it not been for his knowledge of the ancient languages, the intellectual skills he learned in philosophy, and his training as an art history major.

You can’t plan your life. Life is an adventure, and adventures rarely ever go exactly according to plan.

Bilbo Baggins certainly didn’t expect to be flattering a dragon that haf teeth taller than him. John didn’t expect his best friend to crash his proposal because it would be funny. I didn’t expect finding a house would be like going on a treasure hunt today. Or yesterday, rather.

Yeah we’ll make mistakes, we’ll make the wrong choices, we’ll be “wasting opportunities.” We’ll be spending and wasting time doing the things we hate when we could be doing the things we love. And plenty of good reasons for it too, don’t get me wrong. There is a reason why we’re unreasonable, there are indeed many factors that keep us from our passion and our element, all of which are often backed up by statistics and common sense in some way shape or form.

But what if all that time, money, energy, and effort in the “wrong” thing… wasn’t wasted? What if it’s okay to mess up, what if we were MEANT to mess up, in order to get to where we’re “supposed” to be?

It often does have to get worse before it gets better, doesn’t it.

The point I’m trying to make is, maybe there isn’t such thing as a wasted opportunity, unless you deliberately refuse it when you recognize one.

It’s a miracle that we were born at all, and every life story is unique, and is a tumultuous masterpiece full of adventure, waiting to be read daily. Not by others, not all the time anyway I don’t think, but by you. Every hour, ever day, every year, is the next installment of your story. You’re the only who’s reading the story, so no one knows what will happen. Except the author of course.

But who is that exactly? Is it you after all?

With God, there’s no such thing as a wasted opportunity. Actually, with God, there’s no such thing as waste. He uses everything, everything to try and get you closer to Him. He’s in control. Always has been. He’s been working all this time (except for that one day off), writing the history of the world, one life at a time.

Whatever choice you make, with anything, can be a good one. It can also be a bad one, or a very bad one in fact. But by the grace of Jesus Christ, we can come before the Father and place it in his hands. When He’s ready, He’ll open up his palm. It won’t matter whether we made a good decision or a bad decision because in the sovereign hands of the one who forged the stars, it will become the right decision.

It will almost never be an easy thing, and there are bound to be some hard earned lessons and consequences, but that’s all what makes it the right decision.

Brothers and sisters, if you believe in Christ’s resurrection, why are you afraid? Why are you worried about how your life is going to play out?

The grace found at the cross has granted us the opportunity to be free, and do whatever it takes to fulfill the purpose God has placed in your heart and your mind and your soul — to glorify Him — in the way that He has designed us to do it. Don’t waste it.

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To Thine Own Self Be True

Re-post. Shakespeare and the Bible. Related?


This above all: to thine own self be true.

Polonius to Laertes in Hamlet 1.3.78

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:8

A friend was telling me earlier today about prospective career plans. A popular topic of discussion among my peers, because contrary to popular belief, students don’t know what to do with their lives at the end of secondary school**(see N.B.) But I’ll refrain, that’s a different subject.

When thinking of advice to give her, I thought of the first quote, but then… something didn’t feel right about it, and I was reminded of the second.

Two of my favourite inspirational quotations, by two of my favourite sources of literature. But it’s only recently that I’ve put them side by side… and how interesting they are indeed.

First, they both start with the superlative “above all.” (*cue song* #songforeverything) Basically, WHAT FOLLOWS IS REALLY REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT. IT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT.

Second, the emphasis on one is very different from that of the other. Well, both can’t be true, can they? They can’t both be above all, one has to be higher, more important than the other. But which one? They both seem equally inspiring, it feels as though they should both be the best advice one could give, but at the same time (or at least to me), one ought to cancel the other too.

Okay I’ll get to the point now. “To thine own self be true.” Obviously, the emphasis is on the self. Me. But how do you be “true” to yourself? How do you do that? What does that mean? What does that look like?
See, ever since I read that, it seemed like something so deep, the kind of thing where you go “ooh, yeah, that’s good.” It’s also a great pick me up, but until I asked myself the above questions, I didn’t really know what it meant. This goes for a lot of things, by the way. Product of being challenged by your mentors… *ahem ahem… you know who you are.*

So how do you be true to yourself? Well who is yourself? That’s a huge question in itself, isn’t it? One that I will let you, dear reader, reflect on.

What does being true to yourself mean and look like? Does it mean amplifying who or what you already are? Is it avoiding everything you’re not? Is it trying to make yourself better, whatever that means?

SO MANY QUESTIONS.

And they’re all about me. You? The self. This is the world’s view. The self. We are so focused on it that there are compelling arguments that altruism doesn’t exist, that every act is egotistic, self-serving. Volunteering, well, some might say that oh it’s just something to put on their CV, or at the very least, to feel like a better person. Giving gifts, it’s to get gifts in return, in some shape or form, etc. (**these are all OPINIONS voiced in a philosophy class**)

So many times, you hear it’s all about success in school, in the workforce. It’s all about how much you have, in money, in the material, in the people you know, in how many people you know. You hear in the media, in counselling, wherever, be bigger, better, faster, happier.

And those aren’t bad things, striving for excellence is… an excellent thing to strive for. Things start getting tricky when your mind is consumed with itself. What can I do to be x, y, or z? Am I too a, b, or c? What if d, e, or f happens to me?

Again, those questions aren’t bad questions to ask, but when you get so caught up in the world with respect to you, without knowing it, your mind is in a rather self-centred mode. And you end up with more questions and less answers than what you started with.

Now. Let’s put that aside for a moment, shall we?

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:8

Emphasis, is on one another. That is the most important thing: other people, and loving them. I also find it interesting that a reason follows the advice, to say why it’s the most important thing: love covers a multitude of sins.

Aside: In Hamlet, Polonius does say two lines later, “Thou canst not then be false to any man,” which could count as a reason I suppose, but I feel it was more to contrast the part about being true, showing that it’s important, as opposed to being an explicit argument that backs up the advice like it does in 1 Peter.

Well, why does Peter say all that? Why should love cover a multitude of sins? It’s not our love that covers a multitude of sins, it’s God’s. His love was, is, and always will be, the purest and most self-less. Christ died on the cross for our sins, out of love for us, and it is that sacrificial and unconditional love that covers our sins.

I used to find it really difficult to comprehend how self-less God’s love is. Surely, surely, He had something in it for Him. (After all, humanly speaking, there’s always a little something that’s in it for us, even if it’s just to feel good.) Glory, victory, something. But God is the most high. He already had glory, he was already praised and worshiped by the hosts of heaven, he doesn’t need our affection. God is the most high, he doesn’t need the triumph over death to declare victory, He is eternal and alive. He could have easily defeated the darkness without coming back for us.

But he chose not to.

He chose to GIVE UP the greatness He had in heaven to come down as an infant that depended on a young woman for everything. Up there, he had the power to FORGE STARS. But he chose to come here, where he would be rejected by an innkeeper, where an entire village cried for his crucifixion, where the very creatures he brought into existence would think Him as their inferior.

For what?

Nothing. He gave everything He had, His glory, His life, His soul, and gained nothing. The glory He gets, he already had, he didn’t gain it. The victory he has over death, he already had, he didn’t gain it. There is NOTHING He could have gained that he didn’t already have. He gained nothing. But He gained us. So what does that say about you?

But let’s take a look at Shakespeare again.

“Above all: to thine own self be true.” But… Who are you? Where is your identity?

If you are in Christ, you are His, and He is yours. You belong to Him because He bought you with a price, and He belongs to you because He gave Himself to and for You. He loved, loves and always will love you, which is why He says to love one another. He loves you so much that He wants his love to spill over through you because He is in you. There is joy in being loved, but there is greater joy in loving others I think (parents, you know what I mean.) Our love is imperfect, impure, and can be slightly self-serving, but can you even imagine God’s perfect, self-less love? That perfect love is fixed on us. On the receiving end, it feels pretty awesome… I say pass it on mates, there’s plenty to go around 🙂

In brief, brothers and sisters, to thine own self be true: love one another.

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N.B. The part of the brain that regulates emotion, discipline and is responsible for permanently settling into what we would outwardly call maturity, is most active between 18-23… which is when we’re being bombarded with really important, potentially life-changing decisions. So bombarders: bear with us, we’re doing the best we can. From a neuroscientific perspective, we’re only just working out the kinks.

Jobs

Re-post. This was such a great encouragement. I think “what do you want to do in the future,” is among every young adult’s most annoying opening questions.


I think I’ve had a million answers to the question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” which is not the best place to be at my age. And then I came across this:

Don’t listen to lies grown-ups tell. Here’s one: ‘You can do anything you set your mind to.’ Sorry. You can’t. Have you watched American Idol? But you can do anything God wants you to. His script for your life is better than anything you will ever write. So talk to Him about it. Trust Him. And find that one thing you love to do. (emphasis added)

Phil Callaway

“But you can do anything God wants you to.” Just adding my little disclaimer that our sin always mucks this up, but I think what he means is that if you know God has prepared, called and placed you here for whatever vocation, go.

As a writer and aspiring screenwriter, those bolded letters remind me that in the cut throat world of entertainment, I must rely on Him and Him alone, and give thanks and glory to Him alone. Every good story and every great opportunity has been and will be from the author of life and the perfecter of our faith. I need to keep reminding myself that I don’t need to go on a quest to “live the dream” in order to live a more exciting life… I’m already in the middle of an adventure and a battle that He has laid out for me.

Spoiler alert: God wins.

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Hell is Other People

Re-post.


“Hell is other people.”

I first heard this quotation in philosophy class as an introduction to writer, philosopher and atheist Jean-Paul Sartre.

At first I thought it was amusing, and if you’re an introvert like me, I thought there was truth in it. Some might even go parading these four words as their mantra, proud of preferring solitude over gathering, staying aloof and aloft over getting involved in a social environment.

But this statement is one of life’s many great lies.

We were built for community, made for fellowship with one another. God Himself is a community, a trinity.

How do I know this?

When you were a kid, why were timeouts so bad? Being away from all the fun with the other kids, you were forced to stay inside, to watch, to be alone and away from your friends.

When you were a teenager playing sports, why were penalty boxes, red cards, benches, the worst place to be? You didn’t contribute to the team, they played on without you while you sat by yourself, waiting. Waiting to get back in, staring at the clock.

When you are an adult, why is jail a punishment? Being away from society, confined in solitude, with minimal human contact. Why is exile and deportation a severe consequence?

Rejection from a group (rejection in general actually), fear of it, and fear of it happening again, is why. We may not admit it, or we may ignore it, or harden ourselves against it, but these are soul shattering experiences that we love to bury. It could be under wit, or drugs, alcohol, lust, unhealthy relationships, anything to keep our minds off it.

We long to belong, to be with other people, to share the life we’ve been given. We always have.

Genesis 1:27 ESV
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Male and female he created THEM.

1 John 1:3 says “that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

The Bible, though written across hundreds of years, by dozens of authors, in different media of litterature, featuring thousands of people including prophets, kings, servants, the wicked, the righteous, shepherds, warriors, peacekeepers, and radicals… All tell and point to one person and one story. Jesus Christ, and His burning desire to reconcile and fellowship with His wayward and unfaithful people.

HOWEVER, this is not to say that solitude in itself is a bad thing. I’m an introvert, I like my alone time (how else would I have blog material???). Having time away from the craziness of life and resting is in fact essential for growth, especially spiritual growth. Private meditation, prayer, whatever it is you do, fills your cup again to be poured out. Even Jesus did it.

Matthew 26:36 ESV
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.”

He also commands us to do the same.

Matthew 6:6 ESV
But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

But even in those instances, you are not alone, because God, who is ever present is WITH YOU. Which I believe is really encouraging.

Solitude, true solitude, is when and where even God is not. Hell, eternal separation from that which is holy.

Someone, I believe it was C.S. Lewis in his book The Great Divorce, depicted one version (not necessarily biblical) of Hell as a huge expanse of darkness, where every individual was millions of miles away from the closest person in any direction.

Another way to put that, is if two people managed to walk directly toward each other, and maintain a straight line, they could walk for eternity and never meet.

Could you imagine that? You can’t see, it’s cold, it’s mostly silent except for the distant calls and cries of your neighbours. You have no one to talk to, your thoughts louder than anything else. You wait, you walk, with only your hopes and fears exaggerated by your imagination for company.

I imagine Gollum went through something similar.

But if everyone is so far, it must be a pretty big place right? And yet Lewis also describes it as so infinitely small compared to reality and heaven. I think at one point, the residents of his allegory to Hell felt shrunken and minuscule next to those of the “heavenly” counterpart. They were so close, and yet so far.

So close and yet so far. That’s the tie breaker a split second after the buzzer, the split second on the clock between gold and silver, the half mark away from 100%, the single percentile from top in class, from the really big scholarship, the last minute decision that took your big break away.

People, are complicated, and frankly sometimes a pain to be around. But without them, what would we do? What would we become? How would we function? We are in each other’s lives for a reason, maybe even multiple ones.

So.

Hell is other people? The exact opposite is true.

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Easter

Re-post. I wrote this post shortly after my time with TCMT13. Yes, I went back. One of the things that we did frequently was have communion together, and these are my thoughts on it.

Also, easter marks my baptism anniversary… this was my first year. :’)


Another year on TCMusic… way too much happened to retell in a post or ten, but it was amazing and memorable and the team is my second family 🙂

On easter Sunday as I was standing there with a broken cracker in my hand for communion, I was reminded of what we’d say to each other on the tcmusic team when we did communion:

The body of Christ broken for you, the blood of Christ shed for you.

And that first statement alone hit me with every word.

Let’s break it down.

THE BODY.
Whenever we speak of Christ’s suffering, it’s usually on the cross, but it started long before that. Christ is fully human, fully God. He had a body, a mortal, fragile body. But this didn’t simply happen, he had to be born just like the rest of us. He was clothed in majesty and glory with angels and cherubim singing his praises forever. He was living greater than any king or celebrity could ever imagine. But he gave it all away. He gave it ALL up. He became a baby, who couldn’t talk, couldn’t walk, couldn’t dress himself, feed himself, he was UTTERLY helpless. From having everything to nothing, not even the power or strength to hold his head up. And from that moment on, he had to suffer through everything we have to suffer through in life, and more. As a child he got scolded by his parents. As a man he was tempted, and he was both praised and mocked. He was betrayed and denied by his friends, he was popular but hated. And then he was tortured. From sweating blood, to thorns in his skull, to shredding his skin off, to being forced to walk however many miles or km, bearing the weight of the cross… he suffered, in his human body, and I haven’t even gotten to the crucifixion yet. How it must have burned to choose to keep suffering when he could have spared himself of the pain. Christ had a body, just like ours. He knows our pain, he knows our suffering, he went through it and beyond what most of us could even imagine. Because all of the above is JUST the physical.

OF CHRIST
Christ. A name so carelessly tossed around. So meaningless to many who speak it. But who is Christ? He is the Son of God. The messiah, the one who gave it all away in obedience to the Father, and who loved this world and its people enough to be willing to suffer for our sake. Suffer physically yes, but suffer so much more spiritually. He had to absorb the wrath of the Father, the wrath meant for us. Christ’s ‘loss’ when he left heaven all the way up until he was nailed to that cross is nothing compared to the wrath of God. Utterly scorned, abandoned, by your own father.

IS BROKEN
So let’s back track a bit. The body (fully human, fully God) of Christ (the second person of the trinity) is broken.
What?
Christ, who had a perfect body who cannot get sick, get weaker or stronger, now has a fragile human body. And it’s been broken. Torn. Shredded. Tortured. It’s not only broken it’s massacred, murdered.

FOR YOU.
When I got to this part, I was ready to sit down. All that. All that Christ gave up. All that Christ suffered. All that he let happen and stopped from happening, was not for his own glorification. It was not to get attention. It was his purpose here. He did all of that… FOR YOU. Yes, you, on the other side of the screen. He suffered, so that you wouldn’t have to. So all that happened to Christ, was for YOU. Why? He loves you. Not this greco-roman idea of love, but true, biblical love. Where the head or the authority, just takes the gloves off, and ‘volunteer as tribute’ if you will and says I’m first, if anything bad must happen.

This is love.

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