A Proliferation of Ironically Straight Rainbows

I first wrote this 4 months ago when the US Supreme Court ruling came out. I held back from posting right away because, well, I think the whole western world was emotional one way or another, including myself. I process through writing, and now that the dust has somewhat settled, at least on my feeds it has, I’ve decided to come back to it. So if you’re reading, thanks for taking the time and caring about my voice.

Much love and grace, 1100.


I was initially going to title this post “Double Rainbows All the Way Across the Sky!” but as I opened the empty text box to compose this blog, WordPress has hoisted the rainbow banner at the top of the page. And why not? Yesterday’s event dropped like a boulder into the ocean, sending supporters like water to the sky, and shaking up everyone else like the sand below.

But yes, that was strangely my first thought when I saw the colours. A straight banner of each of our seven colours as a symbol to celebrate gay marriage. And yet after the flood, God used a bent banner of the same kind as a symbol of His promise and mercy.

Before I go any further, let me invite you to read this post by Mike Donehey titled “To hear or be heard.” (May require scrolling.)

Most of this post is an echoing of what he wrote. I’m not here to judge, I’m not here to mock, I’m not here to condemn, and I’m not here to dish out an opinion simply for the sake of being counter-cultural. And I apologize if in this post I do any or all of these things, this is not my intention. As with many of my other posts, this is just me trying to figure things out. Unpack and process the thoughts I’ve bottled up for years.

For a long time, I’ve shied away from topics like this online. There was an instance (maybe more) where I didn’t, and I was still new to this whole Christianity thing, and I was writing out of frustration. I’m hoping I won’t make that mistake again today.

Since that time, I’ve stayed far away from this discussion and one other one (cough cough evolution) because I could empathize with, if not understand, both sides, and no matter what I said, I knew I would get labelled. And fitting into boxes just isn’t my style. (Except if it’s a physical cardboard box/spaceship. Those are fun.) Not to mention that all of those labels, from either side, are meant to tear down not just an argument or an opinion, but one’s character.

But enough stalling (can you hear the eggshells creaking?), after yesterday, now’s a good time as any to open this particular can of worms. Or come out of the closet, if you will. (Sorry.)

I’ve posted before on my thoughts on marriage, intentionally leaving gay marriage out of it, not because I’m discriminating, but because that would’ve been way too much for one post. Just to be clear. But I’m here now. Nervous, afraid, vulnerable. I am neither gay nor married, so do I know what I’m talking about? Probably not. But here it goes.

I disagree with and do not condone gay marriage or homosexual activity. Does that make me a homophobe? To some people, absolutely. Do I hate people of the LGBTQ community? By no means. On the contrary I respect those I know and commend them for their bravery. I even work for one. (Hi Mark.)

So how do I reconcile that? At first I told myself, well, it’s the law, and has been for a decade now (in Canada), what choice do I have? But that wasn’t quite it for me. So then I thought about the definition and purpose of marriage now, compared to that of the church. Of course if people are defining marriage only as a proclamation of love and pleasure, all this marriage equality and marriage rights talk makes sense. But getting into the gospel applications of heterosexual marriage kind of seemed like the wrong approach to this. I wonder why.

So how about just the good ol’ gospel itself? There’s a song from the Prince of Egypt Soundtrack that has always captivated me, called Through Heaven’s Eyes. One, because it gets your eyes off of yourself and onto the big picture, and most importantly onto God. Similarly, Brandon Heath’s Give Me Your Eyes invites us to see and remember what God has done.

The sea of faces you see everywhere you go, or the throngs of pride parade attendees, are all precious to God. That means that they are infinitely more than their sexuality (or their ethnicity or gender for that matter). Every human being is an image bearer of the Most High God, and should be treated with worth, love and respect. Let me be the first to say that I don’t always do this. I try to see everyone as a God-breathed masterpiece who are loved to the point where Christ died for them. But I confess that, among other things, I have looked with lust before, that I have idolized and objectified people, I have committed adultery in the heart. Willingly, involuntarily, it doesn’t matter. The point is, who am I to judge and throw stones at the biblically sexually immoral? (That is, whom the Bible calls sexually immoral, whether you think they are or not.) But fear or avoidance of hypocrisy isn’t the only drive here.

While I won’t and can’t judge, I think there is a difference between not judging and agreeing/celebrating/glorifying. A huge difference. “Well if you think being gay is wrong, that’s being judgmental.” But isn’t saying that being gay is good and fine also a judgment? I’m not convinced that judgment and opinion are as closely tied as people think it is.

To me, being non-judgmental means loving and respecting in spite of what you see as flaws. The love and respect alone doesn’t stop the flaws from being flaws, but neither do the flaws hinder the love and respect. And I think the gospel facilitates this because it is the story of unconditional love, after all.

Whether you perceive homosexuality as a sin or not is really of no consequence, not that I’m saying I believe it isn’t sin. But even if it weren’t, there are plenty of other sins that have us covered. That’s the bad news. The good news, is that

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:8-11)

Maybe you don’t see yourself as a sinner. Maybe you don’t want this “reconciliation with Christ.” Maybe you still don’t get why Christ had to die. Many don’t.

But if you’re willing to find out, come exactly as you are, because you don’t have to find God, He’s already found you. You don’t have to work to earn His favour, He is already at work in you, inclining your heart towards Him.

In the end, Love does win, but not the comparatively cheap, divorce-susceptible love driven solely by sexual attraction, whether homosexual, heterosexual, or otherwise.

God’s love wins, not simply over hatred or injustice, but death itself — and it can never be undone.

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:9-12)

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Only We Would Leave the King of the Universe Hanging

What happens when runaway thoughts spin themselves into a hurricane inside your heart, but all you want at that moment is to go to bed?

“Spirit, can you hold these thoughts, bookmark them or something ’til morning?”

The storm only presses upon me like a firm and gentle push on the swings, adding momentum. Very well. Here I am.

In the past two weeks, I’ve experienced the same conversation several times, which I found rather curious. It went something along the lines of, “Well you have your Christianity thing, but I prefer the buddhist philosophy if I had to choose.”

I’ve heard many people express their admiration for the buddhist worldview, my own grandmother being a devout practitioner.

I’d always wondered what made it so attractive until I saw a booth on campus a few semesters ago, that encouraged students to develop spirituality or oneness with the universe… but where God was optional.

One part of me said, yeah um, good luck with that. God is inviting you into true spirituality, that is, a relationship with His Holy Spirit (and the Son and the Father), how can you possibly do that without Him? You can’t fist bump without a fist to bump! There have been many times when a friend would hold out their fist and I’d miss it, so to add some dramatic flair to the situation and reduce the embarrassment, they’d make a big deal about leaving them hanging. I do it by accident of course, though Freud might disagree. However, we do do this on purpose to God all the time, on a daily maybe even hourly basis. He’s set up the relationship so that He contacts us, we just have to be there and be willing. Instead, we don’t just leave Him hanging, we left Him, the King of all things, high and dry!

But back to the booth. The other part of me empathized. We were made to worship, and worship we do. We are constantly searching for it. Some will worship things like money or success or approval, not in the golden calf sort of way, but in putting their identity in relationships (self is only in relation to so and so), image (I live to appear like this to the world), reputation (I am who people tell me or expect me to be) or a career (I am no one without my career and/or my salary), and so many other things. Others will worship virtue, being and doing and living according to some moral standard, a constant process of atonement. In fact, since the Fall, these are the defaults in you, in me, and in everyone else who ever lived.

In seeking just spirituality, people are looking for the “way of life” part of worship, which is why I can understand the thought process behind “why can’t people just believe what they want to believe, do what works for them?” Another phrase I’ve heard often, but oddly more frequently in the past bit.

Worship, the kind that we were designed for, includes another component: loving and generous volition. In other words, a relationship. Without that, nothing will work or satisfy your soul. At least not forever. When we say that Jesus, and Jesus alone, is the way, the truth and the life, we’re not trying to take away people’s free will! If a treasure hunter finds the room with the jackpot, a sea of treasure, won’t they say, “hey guys, come here, I found it!” It’s a jackpot, you really can’t miss it, which is why it doesn’t make sense for the other treasure hunters to ask, “are you sure you found it? There’s a smaller room here with some cool trinkets, that might be it.”

As followers of Christ, we are not just servants to the King of the universe, but heirs. Heirs! The one who holds the name above all names is not just our Lord or our Master… He is our friend and Father who knows us deeply. He cares much less about us and His rules than us and Himself. Matt Chandler puts it this way, “God is more interested in progress than perfection.” Progress of course, requires an interaction with the one assessing you.

I’m not sure what kind of spirituality people have found without a deep and personal relationship with God, but I can imagine the peace it brings is more about keeping your hands busy than finding rest and purpose… A peace that comes at the price of never ending toil, with the resulting fruit leaving something to be desired.

Here’s another one I hear often enough: “So many other religions and worldviews are similar, what makes Christianity right or better than them? It’s not even the first one.”

Many people go to this point of the argument to discredit Christianity, but to me I see it as a proof of its legitimacy. Communicating what I see is of course the issue, but I will try. The most basic common ground for all the religions of world history is the human condition. It’s all about advancing or improving the human condition in some way. That is the common thread — a sinful heart that needs fixing.

This common thread extends far beyond religion, and into everything we do, since everything we do is a direct result of our sinful heart. But written on that same heart is God’s law — our conscience, our own moral standards. I’m most interested in storytelling, and so I see echoes of the soul yearning for the gospel all the time there.

The villains must always get their just deserts, because we know that sin and evil must be punished. The hero always starts out flawed or unprepared for the task, because we know that we aren’t perfect and need something or someone to make us whole, to prepare us for our destiny. The hero must always go through a great ordeal before succeeding, because we know that justice comes at a sacrificial cost. The hero always achieves the goal and overcomes the ordeal, rewarded with honour or revelation.

But these are just the standard givens of story structure, of the monomyth or infamous hero’s journey! Yes, but why? Why are they taken for granted, why is this what we want to see, why is it that if a story defies these laws, we are left cheated or unsatisfied?

After all, a story where the hero dies and the antagonist wins and the whole journey was for naught, is often considered a bad story, not a creative twist. We feel like we’ve wasted our time. What’s worse is that sometimes life is like that, intrinsically wrong and a waste. It’s that deep pit of dissatisfaction and despair.

I propose that at the root, we know in our core that there is a certain way things are supposed to be, and every human knows it. The gospel tells the story that is the balm to our souls. It doesn’t just give us hope and peace and love and fuzzy, flimsy emotions… it is a solid anchor to cling on to.

The hero’s journey example I just used is only one of many places I’ve seen the yearning for the gospel. There are more specific examples. Take the superhero boom. Of course many factors played into this, but at the root, I would say its appeal comes from our deep intrinsic need for a saviour with greater power or skills than ourselves. One, or a small group, must represent and save all of humanity from evil and tyranny. Or how about a show like Once Upon A Time? At the time of writing this, a saviour is being tempted in the wilderness to turn to darkness so that the laws of storytelling might be reversed — villains will get their happy endings, evil will reign, heroes are forever fated to fail and their redemption becomes a futility. Will she succumb and leave everyone without any chance of hope, or will she prevail and let redemption win? Or how about a movie like Jupiter Ascending that I just watched a couple hours ago? SPOILERS: it ends with the protagonist inheriting the Earth… Sound familiar?

I see elements of the human condition echoing the biblical narrative in stories, on TV, on the news, in movies, in people, in other worldviews… it’s everywhere! And I’m not surprised. In awe, definitely, but not surprised. The bible itself was written across centuries by different people in different contexts for different purposes through different mediums. Letters, instructions, songs, poems, historical documents, prophets, fishermen, tax collectors, priests. All this… and yet the common thread tying all these things together is the narrative of the cross. Everything pre-cross in the old testament points to it, and everything post-cross points to it. Prophecies of a Messiah, of a coming kingdom, meant as an encouragement to God’s people in the old testament, and a proclamation of what was done on the cross meant as an encouragement to the early church in the new testament.

My point is that, if the gospel is a common thread throughout the incredible diversity within the Bible, why should it be any different today? The existence of common threads among religions and worldviews isn’t discrediting the gospel, but rather reaffirms it in that we can all agree that we’re broken and need help — admitting this is the very foundation of our faith.

For some, this still doesn’t answer your questions or satisfy your stirrings, and this is to be expected. I couldn’t possibly explain everything because there is still a lot that I don’t fully understand. Even the apostle Paul said “I am perplexed, but not crushed” in 2 Corinthians 4. The guy who wrote most of the new testament still didn’t get stuff, so there’s no way I will.

However, I’ll touch a bit on why Christianity not being the “first” is not really an issue. Firstly, God understands what it is to exist outside of space and time, so linear thinking can’t really be applied here. I know that answer isn’t good enough for some of you, so I will go further.

Christianity didn’t “start” when we entered the story. The beginning wasn’t when humans finally understood what Jesus meant all those times after he died and rose again. It wasn’t when God showed us a virgin birth. It wasn’t when the prophets of Israel told God’s people that God was coming to humankind through a Messiah. It wasn’t when God himself told Adam and Eve that their seed would crush that of the serpent’s. No.

Everyone knows how it goes. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” In the beginning, God. He is the beginning, He is where it all starts (and ends, but I won’t get into that here).

God planned everything from before creation, whenever that was. He wasn’t surprised at man’s rebellion, He wasn’t scrambling to come up with a plan to save humanity after the rebellion… He knew all along. He planned all of history before time existed. The cross and Christianity pre-dates time itself.

Your acceptance of this answer inevitably depends on your own worldview of course, but there is no talking about faith without faith.

I guess if there’s a take away point at all from all of this, it’s that God wants a meaningful relationship with you and has programmed that desire in you. That programming has come out in, among other things, the value we place over spirituality, our eternal search for steadfast peace everlasting, and our intrinsic sense of justice and redemption.

CS Lewis describes this unique God-us relationship like this:

You asked for a loving God: you have one… not a senile benevolence that drowsily wishes you to be happy in your own way, not the cold philanthropy of a conscientious magistrate, nor the care of a host who feels responsible of the comfort of his guests, but the consuming fire Himself, the Love that made the worlds, persistent as the artist’s love for his work and despotic as a man’s love for a dog, provident and venerable as a father’s love for a child, jealous, inexorable, exacting as love between the sexes.

If you’re searching for steadfast peace everlasting that does not waver in even the worst of circumstances and that transcends a mere code or creed, I can only tell you that I have found it here in Christ and have not yet heard of someone who found the exact same thing elsewhere. Will you cave to the backwards instinct to fight and run away from the very thing you’re looking for, or will you be called a friend of a King?

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Gods Don’t Bleed

This is absolutely not the first time this comparison, illustration, analysis, has been drawn.

But it’s certainly a testament to how counter-cultural the ways of God are.

In pagan myths and legends worldwide, the power and deity of the gods was demonstrated in their immortality. The proof that they weren’t hoaxes, was by the strength of their blood — no one could spill it.

During the first century when the Greek and Roman pantheons were of great cultural significance… the one who was (and is) a true God did the exact thing that — if he were a pagan god — was not to be done. And he did it willingly!

An unscathed god was meant to be a display of power, the crucified One was true proof of His.

For what god is a god if he is afraid of death? Or nervous around it, or would not prefer it?

Christ showed us what He can do. Death did not phase him, He knew he’d be victorious before the battle in the grave had even begun. So confident was he, that he let it happen at every opportunity to save himself.

There was only one thing that made Jesus nervous: His Father’s wrath. This didn’t just psych him out, this was stress to hematidrosis – sweating blood.

If the guy who could crush Death like an insect was stressed out by this, why are we taking it so lightly?

Why do I avoid warning people about this for the sake of my relationship with them? Why am I more afraid of them than I am of Him?

Every excuse that I can come up with is matched by His Truth.

I’m afraid of them thinking I’m a weirdo religious nut — Ephesians 2:10 says you are God’s workmanship.

I’m afraid of them never speaking to me again, and I’ll drive away all my friends, and be all alone — Hebrews 13:5 says I will never leave you nor forsake you, Matthew 28:20 says behold I am with you even til the end of the age.

I’m afraid of being wrong about all this — Romans 11:33 speaks of God’s unsearchable and inscrutable ways.

I’m afraid I’m not ready or equipped to be your messenger — 1 Peter 4:10 says as each has received a gift, use it to serve one another.

I’m afraid nothing I do is usable by God, that nothing will change for anybody — 1 John 3:20 says God is greater than the heart.

I’m afraid I’m not smart enough to go up against their arguments — 1 Corinthians 1:25 says the foolishness of God is wiser than men.

And then all I can muster is… I’m afraid.

And in His embrace, He says in Isaiah 41:10 and Joshua 1:9… Fear not for I am with you, be not dismayed for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous, do not be dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

How can I learn to not care about the “religious nut” label? How can I learn to not be defined by my network and connections? How can I learn to hold the shield of faith steadfastly against the arrows of doubt? How can I learn the ins and outs of Your Truth? How can I learn to see myself as only the witness and messenger, not the Saviour? How can I learn the wisdom, knowledge and understanding of God? How can I learn to drum up this courage at will?

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I stand before you God / The Greatness of Your renown / I have heard of the majesty and wonder of You / King of Heaven in humility, I bow / As Your love in wave after wave / crashes over me, crashes over me / For You are for us, You are not against us / Champion of Heaven, You made a way for all to enter in / I have heard You calling my name / I have heard the song of love that You sing / So I will let you draw me out beyond the shore / Into Your grace, Your grace.

You make me brave. You call me out beyond the shore into the waves. You make me brave. No fear can hinder now the love that made a way. You make me brave. No fear can hinder now the promises You made.

From Useless Pirate to Surrendered Captain

The end of the semester came out of nowhere. Has it really been 12 weeks since I started? This winter term, if I’m to follow the schedule I’ve set out for myself, is the climax of my time here. Or at least, in terms of fun courses. So much fun in fact, that after the first week, I was dreading the last.

This mentality of course did not last very long, because I got swept up in the work that I thoroughly enjoyed. And now the end has come and gone. Perhaps it’s a mercy that I didn’t brace myself for the end, or else it would have been a bitter end.

Fortunately, I plan much too far in advance and those future plans, when they become present and urgent plans, are always modified. So this is most likely not the climax. It’s not all downhill from here, as many people try to tell me.

They’re right, of course, but they’re wrong too. There’s always something better and worse around the corner, I find.

Anyway, the sudden evaporation of my daily routine left me with a work vacuum. For the first few days, I didn’t know what to do with myself. Do I relax? Watch hours of YouTube and Netflix? Check emails? Do chores? Work on personal projects? I could do all of these and should do all of these, but with a schedule wiped clean, my brain went, OKAY YOU HAVE TIME TO DO THIS AND THIS AND THIS AND THIS, ISN’T THAT EXCITING? LET’S DO ALL OF THEM AT ONCE. And… cut to white noise.

There were no boundaries, no structures, no coherence to organize or prioritize. And so I got nothing done.

I didn’t want to do anything, I didn’t want to think about anything… for lack of a better way to put it, I was in a lethargic waking coma.

It was a dry season spiritually too… I couldn’t decide if I wanted to sleep or get up, one part of me wanted to dig into a new Bible study while another part wanted to binge watch Orphan Black, going outside or having any human interaction was suddenly a lot of effort… the list goes on. My internal soundtrack may as well have been, “we are the pirates who don’t do anything, we just stay home, and lie around!”

But there’s good news. The reason I felt compelled to write this post is because I am OUT of that space now. Mostly because I’ve actually got to study for exams now… but also because once I got back into prayer, scripture and community, everything came back into focus.

I’m moving ahead with a new project now, and I’m researching and just moving forward with purpose again. This research incidentally requires Biblical investigation. History, culture, extra-biblical sources, looking for experts… some very fun stuff I might add.

After a few days of spiritual drought, the sudden thirst for the Word is just exploding in me, which doesn’t happen nearly as often as I’d like. I was about to go to bed when I decided to skim through Hebrews and 13:20-21 caught my eye. Of course, my writing impulses forbid me to leave this blogpost til morning.

May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Hebrews 13:20-21

Especially right after Easter, this verse is such an encouragement and a reminder. We’ve celebrated, now it’s time to get to work. Work? I thought the cross was all about not having to work. This is true, for our salvation. That work is being done in us, but not by us. That’s Christ’s work. His work then motivates us to fulfill the purpose he designed us for.

If we are motors designed to fulfill a purpose, He is the beautiful, dangerous, essential, electrical power source without which the motor is useless.

As I’m working on this new writing project, it was a great reminder to me that my writing is worthless without His power in me. My words would be meaningless, my stories ephemeral, my voice unintelligible. He has equipped me with everything I need to do his will, and he is working in me the map to doing it. He is creating in me something new… Lord willing, a person of the Jeremiah 31 people, and a Proverbs 31 woman.

The project is Esther’s story, one of providence and presence. God provides, and God is present. In a time when God’s presence appeared much more tangibly than it does now, whether it be booming voices, blinding visions, miracles, burning bushes, oncoming storms… the book of Esther shows His presence in a much more invisible kind of visibility.

This post is full of paradoxes, isn’t it? God’s name is never mentioned in the book, and nothing strictly supernatural happens either. Events just sort of… fall into place. One after another.

God was definitely in control of what was going on. He set his plan for the Jews’ deliverance into motion before they even faced destruction. He wasn’t there, but boy he was definitely there. At work. In people. Esther was equipped naturally with everything she needed to face the king and win his favour: faith, obedience, wisdom and modesty. Mordecai was equipped to be at the right place at the right time to discover the plot against the king’s life.

After watching a documentary about the incredible trials that come with the incredible… eventual… precious… rare rewards of writing in the TV industry, it’s so good to know that God is present through it all, and that he provides the “inside,” like the personality and the skills, as well as the “outside,” as in the circumstances and doors.

What does this mean? I’m realizing as I write that this post has become an “unriddling,” a place for me to digest my inward thoughts. If I’m preaching, this is not my intention. I simply cannot let myself forget these truths, lest I fall for the lie that my life is in my hands, that I am the captain of my destiny.

If I am to pursue this career, I will have to bring the right idea, to the right person, in the right place at the right time, and do it consistently and constantly. A daunting, impossible task for me, but all too easy for God. I must keep reminding myself of this, that everything that happens to my scripts and stories are under control. If they succeed, God did that. If they fail, God let that happen for a reason. I want to fight my pride to the sweet sweet end. These stories aren’t for me, or my living. I need to keep my eyes on that which they cannot see; write toward a Kingdom that cannot be shaken, for a King who is never changing.

Clearly, this is in my “head knowledge.” But what of the heart?

My “big break” hasn’t come yet, but neither have I faced any kind of searing rejection… yet. This is all the more reason to remember that while I am equipped with the quill, I am not the writer. My darkest and finest hours of my early career are coming, so let my heart (as well as my head) ever remember:

God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”

Hebrews 13:5-6

And with that, friend, may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

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To Boldly Go

This weekend I got to see the KWS (Kitchener Waterloo Symphony) perform Michael Giacchino’s fantabulous 2009 score to Star Trek… LIVE to projection.

Needless to say as a band geek and a fan (I love Star Trek, but I’m nowhere near the Trekkie levels of fandom to name myself among them), it was the most fun I’ve had in a while.

Having the music component performed live to a screening of the film brings about a whole new dimension to the experience, an immersion that I think surpasses IMAX 3D. The soundtrack is the audience’s entry point to the soul and emotions of the film, telling the stories that can’t be seen or spoken.

Those gorgeous horns heralded the main theme as the logos went up and I knew I was in for an experience. You could feel the rush of wind whenever the Romulans made an appearance because the low end brass and percussion “punched it.” The strings made my heart strings weep during all those emotional moments (Labor of Love, Head to Heart Conversation…) Don’t forget about that harp either.

Everything about the movie just seemed heightened. There’s a common misconception that the soundtrack is subservient to the film, but it really isn’t. Audio and video complemented each other, the score and film working together as one to form the narrative, neither ever overpowering the other. Of course, during the credits when there’s not much to see other than names, the score is free to shine and the symphony took us where no one has gone before. More on this in a bit.

As was tweeted about the show, “goosebumps and tears are not optional.”

Ever since the development of the film and cinematic industry, theatre has always prided itself in the live aspect of that medium since it is the one thing film can never capture. The ephemerality, the proximity and the humanity of a live performance is completely unique and can never be replaced or digitalized in the same way that other mediums have undergone. Watching a film live on set would not heighten the art of film, in fact it might take away some of the magic. Live music on the other hand… I wish I could see every movie like I saw this one. You get the stunning visual effects of film that can never be seen on stage, but you also get the intense presence of a live performance that makes theatre unique. A big world on screen deserves a big sound that recordings and surround sound fall just short of, now that I know what I’ve been missing out on. It is a wonderful, dare I say perfect, marriage of filmed and live media; the best of both worlds.

This post was originally just going to be raving about the performance as an attempt to live in those memories just a bit longer, cement them while they’re still fresh, and wade in the tides of nostalgia before moving on with life. But of course, as I started writing, a “nugget” materialized and this beautiful relationship between score and film struck me as an uncanny analogy for complementarian marriage.

Not egalitarian. When it comes to marriage, I am no feminist. A bold thing to say in this age of sexual revolutions.

Let me say this before I go any further: neither man nor woman has the right to abuse the other in any way, in any kind of relationship. Ever.

But should the woman serve her husband? As the score serves the film. If the film overpowered the score, we would miss out on that musical narrative. If the score overpowered the film, we would be incredibly distracted and missing the point. It’s a strange paradox to explain… both score and film are needed to effectively tell the narrative, but the priority of focus should always be on the film, the main vehicle for the narrative. They are not equal, but the score is not the film’s handmaiden either. The film and score work together as one work of art, and they enhance each other in different ways, bringing the other to its full potential.

Personally, between listening to a score before and after seeing the film, I have always appreciated the score even more afterwards. Recalling the emotional images paired with the moving music simply makes for a better listening experience. And of course, watching a film without the score, sound effects, or sound at all, is simply pointless.

In the same way, the man should be over the woman like the film is over the score. Once in that covenantal relationship, they need each other as desperately as film and score need each other. They can no longer be separate, they are one masterpiece, one flesh. As soon as one overpowers the other, it’s game over. After all, the score was designed and created to help the film.

Am I saying then that women were designed and created to help the man? It’s scandalous and easy to get twisted, but yes that’s exactly what I’m saying. But again, this is no excuse to allow any abuse. The score doesn’t take orders from the film, but rather from the one orchestrating this marriage of mediums. Both visual and aural answer ultimately to the director, who ensures both arts blend harmoniously to tell a single story. Both man and woman answer to the One who brought them together to reflect a single love story: Christ and the church, His bride, for whom He died.

I will take the analogy further. When the film is over and gives way to the credits, it’s giving way for the score to shine and get the last word. God calls the wife to respect her husband enough to serve him for the rest of their lives, but He also calls the man to love her enough to die for her as Christ died for the church.

It’s three-fold: film and score, man and woman, Christ and church. An analogy for an analogy for the greatest story that has been, is and will forever be echoing across time. Indeed, the greatest story ever told. May we boldly go and proclaim it.

1100

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.

1100

Mistaking Hunger for Fullness

I was never very good at eating healthy.

I got the family sweet tooth, and ever since my Mom’s cravings for croissants during her pregnancy I’ve loved carbs and butter.

Even knowing all the health problems I’m going to face eventually, you’d think doing everything I can to prevent or at least minimize these future problems would come easily. Or more importantly, the fact that the Bible tells us to take care of our bodies… and not just for our own sake, but because we are God’s image bearers. This body is a gift. Take care of it. Steward it.

And yet I come up with any excuse, any justification to abuse it in that sense.

But I wonder if this kind of diet goes beyond delicious and destructive food. Throughout Genesis, it seems that people get into a lot of trouble because of their appetites… they are more eager for the blessing than they are for its provider.

Am I loving food more than I’m loving God? I’d like to be able to say no, but my actions seem to speak otherwise.

Sometimes I’ll skip dinner because of a big lunch. I’d still be hungry, but I’d ignore it until it went away and then I could say I’m “full.” That is, full equals not hungry. It seems I’ve bought into the lie that hunger is bankable, and this isn’t limited to the physical, but spills into the spiritual as well.

Sin, like humanity’s first, is a delicious and destructive fruit enjoyed in rebellion.

There’s no prayer quota in number nor in length. There’s no Bible reading quota in number nor in length. By His grace, we have a relationship, not a scoreboard with God. Christ did all the work for us on the cross. Because of this, praying in the morning doesn’t justify ignoring God the rest of the day. Doing a week of comparatively intensive mission or ministry doesn’t justify laziness during a spiritually dry season.

Sometimes I’ll snack while I work late, or get the munchies when I’m watching TV. I feel the hunger, but I apply a temporary fix. In the same way, how often have I opted for the world’s way when God’s way would have satisfied. How long before I faint of hunger, how long before I get sick of the rubbish I keep stuffing myself with?

We are always hungry and thirsty for the Lord, but will I let the world convince me I’m full?

1100

A curse and a Kingdom: An Unriddling

Yesterday I finally watched The Giver and started a post about it… but alas I did not save and it was lost, so rather than try to type it all out again, I went back to my scripts.

Today however, is a new day (well, night), and as David composed the Psalms to unriddle his heart, so do I write to unriddle mine.

I won’t get into The Giver just yet, other than that it’s a fantastic book. I may revisit it again some other day. Right now, is just good ol’ blogging, virtual journaling. No real direction, no real lesson to be shared, only thoughts. We’ll see if a nugget comes out of it. A nugget of course, being some lightbulb moment when a thing clicks or when a sense of something ceases to be a feeling, but rather something more tangible that can be articulated.

As my media course is making more aware of, everything we do online is data. Flat screen versions of ourselves that in the future will be an archive on who we were, it will be a part of our legacy. Legacy has kind of been the thing I’m noticing lately.

When we’re gone and the digital age goes full blown, digital archaeologists will dig up “deleted” data, compile all our accounts, uncover forgotten secrets. What will our children see? What will our grand children or great-grandchildren? What barbaric acts of oppression are we allowing or fighting today that will make them ashamed or proud? What lifestyle, what mentality are we perpetuating in culture at large? What world are we setting up for them?

It’s unsettling to me how complacent I am towards these questions, which I suppose is something of a step forward. But legacy goes beyond a lifetime, or a few generations. Sure, generational memory only lasts for about 3, maybe 4 of them, but I’m talking about the thought of eternity. Looking at legacy through that lens is… dizzying.

“Walk by faith and not by sight.” I see it every Sunday at church as we walk through the book of Genesis. God makes a promise over and over and over again, and no one has seen it completed to the full. Yes, there’s the nations as numerous as the stars and the sand on the shore, yes there’s the promised land, yes there’s David’s kingdom of Israel, and yes there’s even a Messiah in Jesus Christ. But the promise of restoration, of His kingdom come, of perfection and order in the cosmos and reality for the rest of eternity…

People who don’t believe in eternal life tend to be afraid or at least anxious about death – its finality, the unknown. But as someone who believes firmly in eternal life… it’s not as scary as it is daunting. I mean, the sheer size of it. The Bible says we’ll be of flesh and bone, not these wispy spirit-like beings in another realm or plane of existence. Real bodies. Going on forever. Doing… life. Real life. True life. As it was originally designed.

Speaking of cosmos, one of the scientific laws (thermodynamics?) states that the universe tends toward disorder. That’s a physical law now. Is it even possible to imagine when it wasn’t so? What would that mean, what would that do?!

Hearing ice crack on a frozen lake is almost a surreal experience. Like thunder beneath your feet. Personally, I get a little rush of adrenaline when I hear it in my dad’s little ice fishing tent. When Adam and Eve took those bites out of the forbidden fruit, they fractured the universe. Who knows if it made a sound, but if it did, could you imagine? I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it.

They lost their innocence, their perfect health, their immortality, their joy. The distance that sin opened up between God and humanity became as infinite as the peace and goodness they once had in Eden.

We don’t know what that kind of universe is like, and yet our hearts and souls somehow remember it, long for it. We chase it in relationships, in careers, in achievement, in affirmation, in our pursuit of happiness and self-actualization. We know there’s more than this, we know we have to go up. But not up the social ladder. The curse of sin has flipped everything backwards, upside down and inside out. Up in the eyes of men is down in the eyes of God. Success in the eyes of men is failure in the eyes of God. Love in the eyes of men is hate in the eyes of God.

Men would have us be at the billion dollar penthouse, God would have us serving the least of these. Men would have us pursue the American dream. God would have us pursue an everlasting kingdom. Men would have us love ourselves to find ourselves. God would have us love Him and love others.

I love how death and man’s Fall is described as a curse. It reminds me of the show Once Upon A Time, where all these fairytale characters are cursed and wake up in a land without happy endings: our world. They think this is home, but they know somehow it’s not, even though they can’t articulate it. They don’t know who they really are, and they’re stuck living this “new life” trying to figure out this new given identity. There’s even a story book that tells the characters who they really are, who they were, who they’re meant to be. It’s hard to believe you’re a fairytale character though, and Henry is trying to convince everyone of the truth, but is instead labelled as crazy. The curse caster tries to keep the citizens ignorant for as long as possible… There’s even a prophecy of a Saviour that will lift the curse with true love.

So we’ve got a lost home, a curse, a loss of identity, a book that tells us everything we need to know about our true selves, someone with enough insight to see the truth but is scorned, an evil force holding on to its power for as long as it can, and a Savior to lift the curse. Or in other words, Heaven, death, sin, prophet, Satan, Jesus (who gave His life out of True love, breaking the curse of death). Of course, while strong, the parallels only go so far and are NOT completely representative.

But all that’s probably my biggest draw toward the show. I mean, I know it’s supposed to be polysemous so that audiences can superimpose their own readings on it like that but… what if this is evidence of a fallen heart reaching out to a homeland they’ve never seen?

However, with dystopian literature becoming more and more popular, the idea of true Paradise doesn’t seem so appealing. Every time we try to think of paradise, it ends up becoming one of ignorance or tyranny or both. It’s unsustainable. In other words, perfection does not compute. That’s part of our “curse.” In true curse-like fashion, we know perfect peace and a perfect world exists… somewhere, somehow, but we know we cannot attain it. We can never attain it.

It’s not far spatially… we won’t find it at the end of the universe, if there is such a thing. It’s not far temporally, we won’t find it at the end of time if such a thing exists. The distance is ironically at the closest and deepest level: our hearts, our souls.

I suppose this is where The Giver could come in. In the movie, Meryl Streep’s character calls humanity weak and selfish, and if given the choice we’ll always choose wrong. Always? Maybe. Maybe not. But we are not pure beings. Whether it is in thought, or deed, or word, or motive… there is at least one drop of poison.

But enough doom and gloom. Being the faithful Father that He is, there is a remedy. His name is Jesus. I’m tempted to kind of gloss over this bit partly because it makes people uncomfortable (if I haven’t already), partly because I’ve told this story so many times, practicing or preaching it to myself to remind me… I need the repetition, even if it does make me feel like a parrot.

That’s another part of the curse, I think. Forgetting. We are so easy to forget, which makes it so easy to blame God. No wonder all over the Bible, there are laws and events to help us remember. Remember what happened here, remember what was done, what was achieved, remember the fallen, remember the promise.

Remember the last supper, when Jesus broke the bread and poured the wine. His body broken for us. His blood shed for us. He fills that infinite chasm between us and what our hearts long for. He satisfies that anxiety, that insatiable pit in our gut. He exchanged His perfection for our condemnation. When we lost our right standing with God, He had every right to destroy us before we ran the rest of his creation into the ground. And this sin will eventually be destroyed. But what Jesus’ death on the cross means for us is that, when that sin is destroyed, if we exchanged our “death tag” for Jesus’ righteousness, that sin isn’t on us. The sin is destroyed without us.

Where did it go? On Christ. He is destroyed with sin. Except if that were completely true, we’d have no hope and all was for naught. Our hope is in the resurrection, that Christ put death in its own grave. This is the sign of the curse lifted. Of a kingdom of perfect peace restored.

I’ll say it again, our hope is in the resurrection. Crazy, right? It seems like our salvation is hanging by a thread, and in a way it is… but are we walking by faith or by sight? It is a leap of faith across infinity. If we try to make that leap on our own, we will fall. God is called the author and perfecter of our faith… everything about our salvation is God’s work.

But why? Why do all of this for us? Why not wipe us out and start over? Why not snap your fingers and fix us now? Why let us suffer through this life? Stephen Fry, an atheist, was asked what he’d say if he were to meet God. Every time I come across people like this, I can feel the deep anger and frustration rise up from the pit of their souls and roll off the blades of their tongues. It’s like my intuition and empathy sensitivity or whatever, spikes. Suddenly it’s like my soul has goosebumps.

I’m not at all offended by their answers. I’m heartbroken. I’ve never been a relationship so I don’t know what it’s like to get dumped, but somehow I doubt that it compares to this. The rebellion, the cosmic treason they may or may not know they’re committing by attributing the work of sin to the work of God is heartbreaking. It’s indescribable, and I know people who haven’t experienced this heartbreak will have no idea what I’m talking about. When I made myself read Fry’s answer, my emotional reaction let me into a glimpse of “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

We don’t want your pity, they say. You can’t tell us what to believe, they say. None of it makes any sense anyway, they say.

This isn’t pity. This isn’t disappointment. This isn’t hate. What I felt was… mourning. Deep mourning.

Hearing someone rejecting God isn’t like when someone trash talks your mother. It’s like watching someone commit suicide.

My friends try not to take the Lord’s name in vain in front me, and while I appreciate the effort, I know they do it just so that I’m not “offended.” But though they say oh my word, or gosh or goodness, in their hearts, they cry god louder than their voices can.

But what’s the big deal, they ask? This is the God that gave up everything for us. His heavenly throne, his life… I asked earlier why didn’t God just fix us or destroy us. He gave us a way out instead, he’s inviting us back to the garden. Some are accepting. Some are ripping up the invitation, chewing it and spitting it in His face. That’s the big deal.

People out there call my worldview intellectual suicide, that we use it like a crutch. It’s meant to roast us, but… in a way their hearts are crying out that truth. We need the crutch. Can you imagine? A hospital wing full of people with broken legs… the ones on the crutch, on the mend, and the ones trying to stand without them.

I’m sure there are some of you thinking what a load of BS.

Suffering, disease, death, torture, evil, murder, rape, genocide… I don’t want to worship a God who allows that to run rampant, they say.

How short-sighted, through the lens of eternity. As a part of fallen humanity, you’re longing for a perfect world where there’s no war, no death, no sadness, no grief, no sickness or disease… but you cling to the flesh that allow all those things to exist. Like the citizens of Storybrooke from Once Upon A Time, you’re trying to find home, but you’re trying to find it in the cursed land where you don’t belong. And you want it now.

But home for the fairytale characters doesn’t operate in a world without magic. Home for us doesn’t operate in a world without God. But still our sinful pride says, but why should I worship Him?

If you were an orphan child just escaping disaster, lost everything, suffered unimaginably… and were rescued, then adopted, then supported, then loved unconditionally, would you not adore this Father? Not because you had to, but because… you just did. If other children who went through the same ordeals got adopted into this new, whole, family, wouldn’t your bonds be stronger than blood? And then, what if you learned that the man who adopted you actually went through the same thing as well, wouldn’t you try to be like him, to persevere out of this struggle? And then, what if He told you that you could help him adopt more people into his family, wouldn’t you go out and say, “come, there’s room!” And how would you feel when someone you knew declined or blatantly rejected that invitation? Now how would you feel if you learned that that person chose to go with an abusive family instead?

Because that’s what the pleasures of this world are. Abusive. Addiction, whether it is alcohol, drugs, pornography, instagram, image, self-pity, self, anything… who’s really in control there? And for you who consider yourselves good people, what are you really striving for in life? Happiness? Money? Success? Inner Peace? Happiness ebbs and flows. Money is earned and squandered. Success is fleeting. Inner Peace is Tantalus’ fruit; always just out of reach. These are empty wells that sin taunts us with. A bratty lion cub cruelly playing with its prey. A master abusing his slave. A trail of food leading us to the slaughter house.

We need the gospel. Daily. We need to be repaired, renewed and redeemed daily by it.

But there’s another thing that’s unsettling me, and this is to myself and my brothers and sisters out there. It’s terrifying saying, “come there’s room!” The world has made it so. This is where the tension I’ve been feeling lately is coming from. On the one hand, I just want to be done with this curse and see Your kingdom come… but I know that in wishing that, in a way I am condemning the billions that have declined or haven’t opened that invitation.

In my media course, we talked briefly about responsibility, and how as we have had the privilege of education, we ought to use that to change the world. As Christians, we have the privilege of knowing God, and knowing that His wrath and His kingdom are coming. Is it not our responsibility to change the world? To build the kingdom?

Not the physical kingdom obviously, but the numbers of people to fill it. Here’s where legacy comes back in, if you’ve been reading this far. Those who stood by when the civil rights movement was going on can’t say much if their children ask what they did to change the world. How much will we be able to say when we have to give an account to the God of the universe of what we did to change the world? HIs world. His people.

Going out there to save the lost is scary yes, but shouldn’t we be more afraid of God than of men? Who’s disappointment would we rather receive? The answer is obvious, and yet what I know in my head hasn’t yet reached my heart.

The tools I believe I’ve been equipped with are my words, my pen, my quill, and I write the same story over and over and over. To remember. To keep saying, “come, there’s room!” I know full well this message isn’t always a nice one. I know full well I’ll be scorned. Creatives are perhaps the most sensitive to rejection and yet must face it more than anyone else. And now I’ve got this added layer of rejection?

It’s hard. It’s exhausting. It’s heartbreaking.

I’ve come to terms (I think) with rejection in my career. Rejection for bad writing, bad ideas, bad timing. If I never find success as a screenwriter or any kind of writer… I know my God will take care of me. After all, I have life eternal to look forward to.

But if I get rejected for my faith, for my beliefs, if spiritually I get a stoning, and feel that mourning… Am I ready for that?

And here’s where grace comes in yet again: I want to build the kingdom with words and with scripts – but the kingdom is not contingent on my success. Because all the work is God’s. He’s the One who moves in the hearts of men. He’s the One use picks and chooses what tools build the kingdom. I’m not the one bringing people in. I don’t host the event, I’m only the one mailing the invitation. Rejection is not failure.

See? I know all this. But still I don’t do it. That is, sharing the gospel vocally. It means seeing people face to face. It means physicality. Do I really want to use written word to spread the gospel, or am I just hiding behind my screen because it’s easier? As they say, the cause is just. But my motives? Uncertain.

This is tonight’s struggle. These are tonight’s thoughts. I don’t know what tomorrow brings, but with each morning i’ll rise and sing.

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P.S. Song/mood while writing this post: Rosebud by Marco Beltrami. Lyrics that inspired this post: This I believe (The Creed) by Hillsong.

I believe in God the Father. I believe in Christ the Son. I believe in the Holy Spirit, our God is three in one. I believe in the resurrection, when we will rise again, for I believe in the name of Jesus. I believe in life eternal. I believe in the virgin birth. I believe in the Saints’ communion, and in Your Holy Church. I believe in the resurrection, when we will rise again, for I believe in the name of Jesus.

#HeSpeaksToMeThroughSongs