Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Time is Like Thin Ice

The following is an excerpt from Prayer and the Art of Volkswagen Maintenance by Donald Miller

    Time is like thin ice. Our days are spent living like ants in a mound, collecting our substance to survive the winter; to retire in comfortable plaid pants, blue socks, and golf shoes. All the while, the ice is melting, thin and slick. We don’t notice it until struck with tragedy. We or a friend are mangled in a car wreck, and we reflect on how fragile the whole thing is. Our wives and our children become beautiful again. Our priorities change as we realize we are temporary beings. It is with this in mind that Solomon writes his book. Here is where aged couples renew their vows.
But not all of us are granted such severe mercy. Death is a difficult thing to process when no hint of it is at hand. We may never hear the ice crack. Mark Twain was right in assessing that the two elements of success are determination and ignorance. Success being the six-figure salary and ignorance being a blindness to its temporal capacity. Beyond the gravity binding us, our souls travel alone. We ascend without anchors of material possessions. We ascend empty-handed; our shells, neatly dressed in pressed suits, set snugly into caskets. The graves are all silent. The caskets are vacant. Stalin has no more wisdom for us. Nietzche is preserved in books, having forgotten to lift his casket lid and tell us he was right. Muhammad gives us the slip. So does Buddha. It is Christ alone who defeats the grave. He came back from death. Nothing left in the tomb but echoes and cobwebs. And so we do well to listen to Him with the ears of dying men.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Words - Words - Words

I was recently challenged with the question: "What are your 10 favorite words?"  I had never really thought about it, but since the seed has been planted, I have now been pondering this question for a while. I have come up with a number of words, which change from day to day, mood by mood, but there are some words and ideas that are constant and I keep coming back to, and have for a majority of my life.
     This blog is not so much as a help for anyone as it is for me.  In the following season I am going to attempt to “flesh out” some of the thoughts in my life and I hope they will keep your interests till the end, possibly even spawn some thought in your life, and maybe even resolve some of the battles you have been going through, fighting on the battlefield of “false-truth” .

Word 1

I think our need to define our identity is something God placed in us when He formed us and this need to be identified with something, Someone, draws us to Him.   But when we are separated from God, we have an almost magnetic tendency to fill this need in a worldly attempt with our own definitions.  Ask almost anyone what they do and their response will most likely be their job.  Most of us make a mistake by identifying what we do with who we are.  A banker is only a banker if there is a bank, a parent is only a parent as long as there are children, a worker is only a worker as long as they work, and a drug addict is only an addict as long as there are drugs.  What happens when their definition of who they are is altered, if they lose their job, or worse, if they lose their child?  They have built the foundation of their life on a certain identity, and now that foundation has crumbled underneath the weight of life’s uncertainty.
     Who or what we identify with is laying the groundwork of what we spend our time thinking about and doing, who we hang out with, what we set our goals towards, and many times our self defined identity, true or false, is a hindrance to our potential as the person God made us to be.  This thinking is also evident in the church as well.  When I became a Follower of Jesus, I was unfamiliar with how this whole “church” thing worked.  I didn’t grow up in the church, in fact by the time I was 28 years old, I might have stepped in a church building 5 times, a couple of Easters and a few Christmas Masses.  I had avoided God and all things pertaining to Him until then.  I had found that if I was confronted with the subject of God or Jesus, it was best to explain I had my own way of believing, which was a lie, but it helped me avoid the subject because what I was really was doing was avoiding the question of “Is there a God?”  because if I avoid the question, I won’t have to give an answer, and this is what I really didn’t want to do, because in the answer lies a response to the question. If I admit there is a God, then I should live like I believe this to be true, and if I believe there is no God,  then I am my own god, and life as we know it has no rhyme or reason, just eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die. We are an accidental coincidence and our destiny is worm food and fertilizer.
     I guess the reason I picked this word is because even at this stage of my life, I am still struggling with my own identity. I know, in a general sense my identity, Christian, husband, father, son, friend, jeweler, musician, racecar driver, but under those umbrellas are a lot of characteristics which one could follow. So the struggle goes on, and I wonder if I will ever figure it out, or if it is better not to have this IDENTITY set in stone, for in the lack of detail is a lot of freedom to find those passions I never knew were there.

Curious, what do you think about this?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I Am An Onion, An Onion I Am

The more I know, the more I know I don't know..... ya know? Let me explain.
   I have been following this Jesus for quite a few years and after the first few years, I had it all figured out, I really did. I did all the things I heard Christians were supposed to do, and I quit doing all the things I heard Christians weren't supposed to be doing. I won't list them because I am sure most reading this are very familiar with the list. The more I did (and didn't do) the better I felt about myself, in a highly spiritual way. In fact, I was much better than most of my friends and just about all others I ran across in the church and in the street. A silent head-shaker, and finger-pointer. I thanked God many times that I wasn't like the evil-doers I knew, an honest man I was, and I shined. If I wasn't me, I would want to be.
   Then one day, after carrying the weight of self-righteousness for so long, God lifted the veil for just a second so I could get a glimpse of myself, my true self...... not a pretty sight. Ya see, I had been seeing the world through a filter of my own making, my own experience, and my own understanding. Every righteous thing I thought were of God, I carried, not a light load, and everything I saw was through this "filter". Everybody I saw, every situation I came across, I judged through this lens of my own making.
   Then I was shown a filter-less view of others and I didn't recognize what I was seeing. How could Love be so blind? These people I was supposed to be kind to, according to the bible, were not even close to deserving of God's love. (must have been a bad translation of the text) I had forgotten that when God picked me up, I was cursing and spitting at Him, a God-hater and a .... dare I say, ragamuffin. Over the years I had built a filter to see the world through, layer and layer of misunderstandings and bad theological and religious views to the point where the world I saw was not God's world.
   I am in the process of peeling away these layers, like a stinking onion, and it is not a pleasant experience, but it is necessary. The more I peel away, the closer I get to seeing others through the eyes of Jesus. It is truly becoming a beautiful world of possibilities, the possibility of being Jesus to those in need. The painful side of peeling away these layers, is the view I have of myself. I have been shook to the core, humbled to the point where I can barely look up from my face-down position to say "God, have mercy on my, a ragamuffin and a sinner". An onion I am, a stinky onion, but I am smelling better with every layer.
God, help me to not think so highly of myself,
God, help me to not think so lowly of myself,
God, help me to not think of myself so much.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Community, It Is Not Good To Be Alone

Today I caught a glimpse of three moths….or butterflies, not quite sure which they were, but they were very delicate, quiet, and flying together in some sort of airborne dance.  They had a soft tan, almost pastel yellow color and it seemed that one of them that was the center of attention. The other two were carefully and rhythmically flying around the first, in a somewhat calculated, almost dance-like balance of play and choreographed courtship.  All this was taken in by me, in the span of just a second or two…..for that is all the time I had before the trio of silence were met with the windshield of my speeding car.  I couldn’t help it, for if I could have, I would have swerved, or slowed, or screamed,…..something.  But as fate, or whatever you would call it, would have it, our paths met.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, you make the call, my car came in contact with only two of the three.  I know this because one of them was smeared across my windshield in a yellowish powder, and the other I saw bouncing along the road in my rear view mirror.  The third, I also saw in my mirror, still flying, out of control a bit, but spared death. This is where the dilemma falls, for in the seconds I saw the three, they seemed like they should be together, the three as one, but now, only one remained.   In the Bible, (Genesis 2:18) it is written of Adam, “The Lord God said, It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” This was brought home to me in the sight of this one lone moth fluttering away. There was an incompleteness that I noticed, but only after seeing the quick glimpse of the three.  For if I had only seen the one flying alone first, I wouldn’t have had a second thought about it, but now…….

Aaron Huey

Aaron Huey
America's Native Prisoners of War