bat-slap

I had a friend ask me this question and thought it might be of use to the rest of y’all to read:

 

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said if someone slapped your face, instead of revenging, you should give the other side of face for that person to slap. I understand why we don’t want to avenge, but why should we ask for more hurt??

 

Disclaimer: Don’t take my word for it

First, I want you to know I will attempt not to answer just from my own interpretation, but from context clues found in other places in the Bible. God is sovereign enough that He was able to guide people by His Spirit to write the Bible. In 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul says that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”

The term “God-breathed” means that God oversaw the writing of the Scriptures, as well as their preservation over the years. It is God’s sovereignty that gives the Bible authority, and it is His love that has given us His very words in a human language we can understand.

It is apparent God wants to be known by name — personally, intimately, and accurately — which is precisely why He gave us the Bible.

In a court trial, we can gather evidence for a crime. Fingerprints, weapons, logical implications. We can even gather the witness of many people (the more people who agree on what they saw, the stronger the witness). But if the criminal personally confesses to the crime, no more evidence is needed. He is present, and it is His words.

In the same way, we see evidence of God in nature, personal experiences, miracles, science, and other people’s experiences. These pieces of evidence can be powerful, but without specific language, we may mistake God for a different God — one who fits our limited interpretation.

The Bible offers a greater perspective than our beady human eyes do — it is hundreds of eyewitness accounts. It is the culprit Creator confessing to His acts of justice, love, mercy, faithfulness, and sovereignty. Not only does it span across 4,000+ years of human history, but it contains the very words of God.

If we cannot understand or know God, His oversight of the Bible was an utter waste of His time. If He didn’t mean for us to know Him, then it is waste of our time to try to know Him or persuade others to spend even a second trying to know Him.  1 Corinthians 13:12

Therefore, I am convinced we can understand everything in the Bible that God intended for us to understand and know —

no matter what time period we’re in, what cultural background we’re from, what amount of education we’ve had. His Holy Spirit ultimately helps us with this, but so do Spirit-led studies of biblical context, language, history, culture, and so on — and Spirit-led discussions on these passages.

In studying Scripture, keep in mind that your goal is not to collect facts, build yourself up, or tear others down, but to get a greater understanding of God’s heart.

(For more evidence of the Bible we read today being the original ideas of these authors, see this article, specifically Part 3: http://www.gospelway.com/bible/bible_preservation.php)

So why did Jesus command us to “Turn the other cheek?”

Human Society vs. God’s Society

I want to start by saying that the way human society works, and the way God’s society works, are completely the opposite.

• In our society, the strongest, smartest, and richest are praised.
• In God’s society, the humble, the meek, and the servant are praised. (Mark 9:35)

• In our society, we seek joy by gaining things.
• In God’s society, we find joy by giving things away. (Mark 10:21)

• In our society, we struggle to preserve our lives, and end up losing them in the end anyway.
• In God’s society, we give up our old lives to find them in Christ and live forever. (Matthew 10:39)

Human Morality and God’s Morality

Second, I want to contract human law and God’s law.

• Human law says it’s wrong to cheat on your spouse.
• God’s law says that a truly righteous person would even *think* about cheating on their spouse. (Matthew 5:28)

• Human law says it’s wrong to murder.
• God’s law says a truly godly person would not even hate a person in his mind.

• Human law says to love your friends and hate your enemies.
• But God’s love is so vast that He loves even the most evil people — and if we want to be like Him, He commands us to love our enemies. (Matthew 5:43-44)

God’s ways are so much higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9). This does not mean we can’t understand or know God. Rather, it means that we tend to set the bar low for ourselves to feel good about ourselves. But God’s standard is absolute goodness. In a godly society, there is no room for the slightest ounce of hatred, lust, impatience, greed, or pride.

This was once a society where humans lived. But something broke.

 

The Kingdom of God: The Way it Was Supposed to Be

The way Jesus calls us to live is completely different from how the world lives. Jesus didn’t come just so we could live a good life, but so we would belong to a completely different society — the society often called “Heaven” or “The Kingdom.”

When God created Adam and Eve (Genesis 1), He intended for us to live in a world without sin/evil. When sin entered the world, our good nature turned into a sinful nature. For God, it comes naturally to be good; it’s who He is. For us, it comes naturally to be impatient with people, to lust after someone, or to hate our enemies.

When Jesus commanded people to do radical things, he wasn’t trying to get them to be righteous on their own. He was trying to show them that, no matter how good they tried to be, their very nature was still broken!

When Jesus told people to “turn the other cheek,” there were people in his presence who sincerely thought they were righteous, and could follow the law perfectly by themselves (“self-righteous”). There were also people who *knew* they didn’t measure up to God’s perfect standards, and were convinced they would be separated from God forever.

Jesus addressed the hearts of both of these people simultaneously. Here’s how.

 

By giving this command, Jesus showed all these people that:

(1) The Kingdom of God is radical. When we are recipients of hate, we respond with love. Because this is what our Father does!

(2) The Kingdom of God is not attainable by the law. It’s going to be natural for us to want to retaliate when people are hateful toward us. God isn’t asking us to suppress our sin nature, but rather surrender it to Him so that His love, rather than our sin, would be apparent.

(3) The Kingdom of God is accessible to everyone who surrenders to Christ and receives His righteousness. Self-righteousness is just as much of a sin as adultery. Both are contrary to God’s heart, and both pull us away from God. Sin, then, is anything that is contrary to God’s heart, and that pulls us away from God. Trying to be righteous without God’s help is not only sinful, but futile and impossible! But even the most sinful people are not hopeless. Both the self-righteous and the adulterer can surrender to Jesus and receive His Spirit, His forgiveness, and His power to overcome our sin nature.

(4) The Kingdom of God is seen when we live radical lives. Let’s say you’re at the grocery store and the woman in front of you is really rude. She is mean to her kids and the cashier. She goes to pay, and all her credits cards are denied. You pray about what to do, and God prompts you to pay for her groceries. So you hand the cashier a $20 bill. She walks away, still angry. But the person behind you… he sees something that, well, doesn’t happen in our society. He asks you why you paid for her groceries, and you can say, “You really want to know the answer?” Ha. And then tell the man that it’s because you believe in a God who loves His enemies. You didn’t do it to feel good about yourself, or to “make up” for that time you were mean to cashier. You did it for no reason other than that God’s Spirit moved in you. What an amazing testimony to that man, who needs Jesus just as much as that mean woman… and just as much as you.

Jesus wanted to meet both of these groups where they were at. This required him both to humble the self-righteous to look beyond their own works (which fell short of God’s kingdom standards), and to give the wretched hope beyond their own works (which also fell short of God’s kingdom standards). This hope was Himself: the man who donated His perfect righteousness to replace the failed attempts of any person who would accept it.

 

Summary

Why did Jesus command these people to “turn the other cheek?”

In commanding people to turn the other cheek, Jesus was NOT:

  1. Implying that we be pacifists, walking ourselves or others into physical or psychological danger without reason (Proverbs 22:3)
  2. Implying that we ignore the cause of justice against oppressive authority. God Himself opposes the proud, and has opposed authorities who did not lead with justice and righteousness (James 4:6, Numbers 22:32).
  3. Telling us to subject ourselves to needless pain. We are called to love (that is, desire good for) our enemies, but this means exposing evil (Ephesians 5:11) — not being an object of its continuation. He commands us, with His divine strength at our backs, to “be at peace with all people” “as far as it is in your power” (Romans 12:18). However, sometimes this may mean leaving unhealthy and divisive relationships (Titus 3:10).

In commanding people to turn the other cheek, Jesus WAS:

  1. Giving us a glimpse of His heart to love everyone — even those who are hateful and unfair
  2. Giving us a glimpse of His kingdom — where there is no room for hatred because our hearts are filled with God’s Spirit
  3. Giving us an opportunity to introduce people on earth to the Kingdom of Heaven — giving evidence of what is yet to be fully realized.

For more on turning the other cheek, read this article on at topic at gotquestions.org: http://www.gotquestions.org/turn-other-cheek.html

 

What are your thoughts? Did this bring you any clarity on this passage?
What questions do you still have?

I'm Against LGBTQ Bullying: #SpiritDay

As some of you might know, October is LGBT history month. I know this because of a bulletin board my RA put up in my hall 5 years ago.

Growing up as a Christian, when I first saw this sign, I was skeptical. Over the course of 6,000 years of human history, how long had “gay” even really been a thing? What kind of history is there, really?

Oh, there’s history.

And it blows my mind. It’s a story of dark evils and great good.

Here are just a handful of evils:

  • During the Holocaust, 100,000 gay men were imprisoned, and 20,000 of that number sent to concentration camps.
  • In Europe, as far back as the Middle Ages, homosexuality constituted a death penalty, and as recent as the past 100 years, gay men were forced by law to undergo chemical castration.
  • Today, in Syria, if you’re even accused of being gay, you will be thrown off a building.

This persecution is used not only for political and religious power struggle, but is an everyday reality for LGBTQ+ youth in our own nation. Although our media and government promote LGBTQ rights, LGBTQ students are still often:

  • bullied
  • rejected by their families
  • about 8 times more at risk for suicide than hetero- and gender-normative youth

Of course, LGBT history month organizations do not highlight so much acts of violence and hate toward LGBTQ+ persons (although they are of great important to understand and remember as a part of the dark history of the human race) — but rather highlight the amazing LGBTQ+ people who have shined throughout history, making incredible contributions to the very society that seemed to be against them.

  • Much evidence supports that William Shakespeare was gay. He is now the most well-known playwright in human history, and his works have inspired millions of people in their art, philosophy, and worldviews.
  • Miriam Ben-Shalom served in the U.S. Army in 1976 until it was discovered that she was gay — at which point she was kicked out.
  • Winston Churchill said that Alan Turing (1912-1954) made the single biggest contribution to Allied victory in the war against Nazi Germany. His algorithm machine may not only be the reason thousands of lives were saved, but his machine was an irreplaceable model for the computer — something without which no company, government, or individual could operate well today.

So why am I writing this?

I can honestly say, because I’m a Christian. And just as LGBTQ people want to be known for the beauty and love they have inside to give to others… that’s how I want to be seen.

I don’t identify as Christian because I want to be counted with those who hate gays to try to make themselves feel better than everyone (when really, they’re far worse).

Just as gay people don’t often identify as gay because they want to be counted among flamboyant, loud-spoken political activists.

I identify as Christian because Jesus Christ is the one person who ever lived who actually gets it. And by “it” I mean, how to treat people.

No matter how we identify,
no matter what labels we put on ourselves

after however-many years of living this life
and trying to draw conclusions
about ourselves and others and God(s) and the world
in a way that best describes the state of affairs,

we are people.
And because of that, our deepest longing is to be
thoroughly known,
and yet completely
loved.

And this is exactly how Jesus treated people.

The thing is, since Jesus also happens to be the one who created us and knows how many hairs are on our head…

He also knows when our conclusions are wrong.

(Park that for a second… it might mean what you think it does… or it might mean something completely different. :) )

None of us have it right. But if anyone does, it’s God. And if God really wanted to make these things known to us, what better way than to become one of us?

If the one who made us just wanted us to continue wondering,
you know, about the big questions, and why people fight, and why it matters,
he wouldn’t have come.
But I have this inkling that God wanted us to know exactly who He is.

And honestly, I think our desire to be known…
Is a fingerprint left on us by our creator,
who calls us by name
because He Himself has a name
and specific characteristics
that matter.

Because if my friends didn’t know my name or the deepest, darkest things about me?
I couldn’t be sure they knew and loved me completely.

What if, just as we want to be known, to be “out,” if you will,
God wants us to know the deepest things about Him, too?

None of us have it right. But if anyone does, it’s God. And if God really wanted to make these things known to us, what better way than to become one of us?

Jesus is the only god who has ever done that. So I’m sticking with Him.

Let me put this another way. Get this…

if your Creator “came out” as Jesus Christ,
the one written in that book you hate
because of the flamboyant people associated with it…

would you accept Him,
and seek to know Him better,
and love Him more —
and enjoy His unique personality
and the love He has to offer —
or would you reject Him?

I am a Christian, and because I strive to be like Christ, I am against LGBTQ+ bullying. Jesus has known me completely, before anyone else did, even in part. And Jesus has loved me completely, no matter how I have felt, thought, or acted.

This love has changed me life, and I because he opens this love up to everyone, so I will not only open my arms to people, but adamantly stand against LGBTQ bullying.

I’m actually beginning to get involved in an organization that does just that… more on that in future posts. :)

But for now… if I catch you in any way hurting one of my friends, I’m going to (lovingly) throw a hackey sack at your face.

Matthew 25:34-45

http://www.glaad.org/spiritday

View of the auditorium from behind the drum set

8:00 a.m.

I picked up my purple headphones and propped them on my head like a padded, electric crown.

I sat on the stage behind a clear screen that made me feel like a fish in an aquarium.
Except that I could breathe…
somewhat.

My hands (and feet) were too busy to mess with the sound levels in my ears that were throwing me off.

I had barely eaten any breakfast, though I slept in more than normal because of a recent itinerary change. Of course, that meant there was less time to rehearse our set.

My heart beat quickly. Too quickly.
Time went slowly, too slowly, until it was time to begin.

I forgot the rhythm to the first song. Struggled to retrieve it from my memory.

Second song seemed like a recovery: I loved the ambient tones of this song that set a worshipful (and calm!) mood.
Until the middle of the song,
when our suddenly our track crashed.
The ambience was gone.

Attempting to fill in the obvious silence, it felt like the Mean Girls’ “Jingle Bell Rock” scene:

https://youtube.com/watch?v=h81UOjlFmMs?start=56&end=67

 

***

Anytime anything bad happens, and even 5% of it is my fault,
I get this icky pit in my stomach.

It’s amazing
the lengths I’ll go
to make that go
away.

***

“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,”
he recounted into the microphone.

I considered what that meant for the man who wrote those words. Paul, a man who hated people because they believed differently from him — a man who was responsible for the deaths of many such people. He would then be commanded by God to face these people… and join them. To go up to the nieces and nephews of the man he executed with his political power… and say,

“Your God,
I despised him,
but He appeared to me…
He saved me…

I wanted to kill myself but…
Your God commanded me
to use my life for His cause.
And I owe Him that life now.

I beg you. Forgive me…
Not for my sake…
there is work to do. “

My pastor continued: “I love Eugene Peterson’s translation in the message, which reads,
‘Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us
no longer have to live under a continuous,
low-lying
black
cloud.'”

I wondered what this meant for Paul.

I wondered what this meant for the man standing in front of me.

***

I looked up to picture the black clouds above my own head,
and failed to identify them. To label them. To name them.

What sin hangs over my head? I feel the black cloud daily… but what is it?

Lust? No, I’ve actually been doing well in that department (at least the past few weeks).
Addictions? Nothing serious. Facebook maybe? What a wimpy addiction to have, I thought.
Some huge thing in my past? No… I’ve already given those to God and found freedom and forgiveness. Truly. I am not my sins, I am not my temptations, I am not my own.

My pastor wants us to be free. He loves every human being who was in that room that day. I know because I’ve seen it. Because he loves us, he brought a cross up to the front of the room, asked us to write our black clouds on a piece of paper and nail them to the cross.

What was mine?

I thought of that icky pit in my stomach. Was it gone?
Nope. Still there…

I used to rely on that pit in my stomach to make me a better person.

But last year, God showed me something (again, by speaking to me from backstage after messing up drumming):

If I’m to operate like my true self, who was designed for a society void of sin and guilt, that I would need something stronger to guide me.

Not a guilt that drags me along, fatigued and lonely and, quite frankly, nauseous —
But the Holy Spirit: the one who gives and recalls life as He pleases,
in a way that reveals the reality of things, of our condition, of our need, of the significant weight that comes with having free will.

Dead to sin. Alive to Christ…

***

Two more songs.

I swear, guys. I always try my very best not to look at people from onstage when my pastor asks everyone to close their eyes and look up if they’re surrendering to Jesus.

I succeeded this time… But as I was drumming, people were coming up to nail their sins to the cross, I subconsciously glanced over and saw a man in business attire.

I caught him at just the right moment: jabbing a bulletin pin into the cross. He was angry.  I almost felt ashamed for glancing, this moment was so intimate between this man and Jesus. Because whatever this cloud of guilt was… he was done with it. He crucified the sin with which he was resolutely finished — as finished as Christ’s atonement for that sin on on that ancient, blood-soaked cross.

God’s wrath for this man had been exhausted.

It’s not that God was never wrathful. He despises sin. I don’t think the American church teaches that very often, but it’s orthodox, and it’s the only thing that is consistent with God’s actions in the Scriptures.

Without Jesus, we deserve God’s wrath. As a holy God, He cannot be around even an ounce of sin, whether adultery or rape or even lust in our minds. But just as soon as the perfect judge — who would be a fraud to brush sin under the rug —threw down the gavel with tears in His eyes, He sent His son to pay the bail, so this businessman would be a free man.

Finally free.

Wrath? There was none left for him. The anger this man felt toward himself — Jesus told him that day, “Don’t pin this on you. Pin this on me. I’ll take that. I love you.”

***

Guys, we do this silly thing.

We try to pay bail with perpetual guilty feelings. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that’s an acceptable form of payment. Not to state government. Not to a divine being. And certainly not to a divine being who already paid our bail with blood, sweat, and tears. What a disgrace to tell Him, “Your work was not enough. Here. Let me add to it with some guilty feelings.”

We do this silly thing. We try to make up for our disobedience with perpetually insufficient resolutions — when our guilt was already paid with a life.

But true repentance is not, “Sorry God. I’ll try harder.”

That is not called repentance.
That is called “practical atheism.”
That is called “failure on repeat.”
And I’d even go as far as saying, that’s called “self-idolatry.”

Because although you talk to God, when it comes down to choosing between
His divine strength
and your human strength
to overcome your human issues…
you go with your own.

You are,
for all practical purposes,
believing that your power is stronger than God’s.
No wonder your sin has you pinned down.

This is not repentance.

True repentance looks more like this:

“God, I have utterly failed you in every way.
It is impossible for me to ever do what is right.
I always fall short.
And I will continue to do so.
Only you can save me from this body of death!

Right now, despite my feelings,
I choose to I believe that You can…
and I don’t know how…
but I believe not only that you can…
but also that you will.

And instead of making these changes myself,
I will wait on You to transform me.
I’ll be on the lookout.
Thank you that you are faithful,
even and especially when I am not.
Your faithfulness is big enough for the both of us,
and that is the only thing that gives me hope.”

Dead to sin. Alive to Christ. The same Christ accomplished these both with the same power. A power with which none of our self-help methods can compare. A power which our “you just do you” mantras scoff at as a fraud — just like everything else they’ve tried and failed. A power far stronger than human strength, to hold you up under whatever temptations will inevitably come to revive your sins perhaps daily.

***

I averted my eyes back to my ride cymbal, watched my hands move, only partially on my own command. (Drumming is the art of pushing learned patterns into your subconscious so your brain can handle all four of your limbs with attention to spare.)

I am in Christ, I thought with my remaining brain attention. There is no condemnation for me.

… what does that mean for me?

I thought of everything that had gone wrong that morning. The overwhelming guilt and inadequacy I felt even just from a few hours of trying my absolute best!

The sound levels were still off…
The purple, electric crown on my head
seemed to blast my mistakes at me
and I felt far from royal.
I strained to hear God’s voice amidst the noise of the church service.

“I’ve got your back. And I will advocate for you.”

It was not audible. It was a feeling. Like the music.
A feeling I knew was backed by the Scriptures:

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin.

But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

// The Apostle John,
eyewitness of Jesus’ earthly life,
recorded in 1 John 2:1-2 (emphasis mine)

God is the only judge who can judge with perfect integrity and still advocate for the one who is in the wrong. Jesus was not just a talented lawyer, covering up the sins of his defendant. He was a talented acquitter — washing off our bloodguilt like a firehose to a chalkboard — until the guilt was no longer ours.

Without a trace.

***

The song ended — too quickly, because I started the song too early, and the track started about a minute into the song on top of that.

I went out to greet people, first with my head down, then with my head up. This is not about you. This is not about your performance just now. This is about people feeling loved. Focus on them.

And yet, as I greeted people, something weird happened.

“You sounded great!”
“You did such a great job!”
“I didn’t know you played the drums! It was so cool to see you up there!”

Even our sound crew: “That went well!”

What the heck just happened? Are you deaf? Did you not hear what just happened in there?

Without a trace.

This is the best illustration I could think of tonight for what it means to have our sins covered by the cross.

When Jesus died for us, Scriptures say that He “covered our sins” (Psalm 85:2).
This doesn’t mean He hides them before the judge.
This doesn’t mean that parts of us must remain hidden!
This doesn’t mean that we ignore the fact that, even as people made alive to Christ, our sinful nature never went anywhere!

It means,
He’s got you covered.
And that He will be your advocate,
even when you are in the wrong.

And after you have a horrible gig,
you will find that
the whole time
He was covering your every note,
so that those who heard your life
heard a song
far more glorious
than you ever anticipated.

So stop focusing on yourself and your shortcomings,
and start focusing on
the power
of your God
to use things
like Paul and my pastor and you and me,
things formerly deserving wrath,
to bring about a true community,
centered not on sin or sadness or power struggle,
but on righteousness —
until we are finally no longer alone.

Without a trace.

As you look back on your life, you will not see a life about which God despairs. You will see a life in which God delights. A road whose cracks are filled in by a substance that looks a lot like Jesus.

And you will leave eternity in your wake.

 

 

“Blessed are those
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord will never count against them.”
// Romans 4:7-8

 

21304778410_20217a06f0

So I’m writing more devotionals for my church to help people in small groups have conversations that make you change, rather than just feel smart or feel guilty.

This week’s was about loving your actual neighbor. Although I wrote the devotional and could type our some pretty thought-provoking question… I suck at loving my neighbor. But the writing, the message, and the discussion all have my gears spinning.

The momentum is going and I don’t want it stop.
I can’t let it stop.
I have no right to withhold love from my neighbor.

Because Jesus didn’t withhold His love from me.
He saved my life, and thus I am in debt to Him and anything He tells me to do with that life.

And thus, I am in perpetual debt of love to my neighbor. Whether the world or secular justice say I’m obligated to love someone or not, the law of God says I’m obligated to lay down my life for even the most wretched or tiny or “non-useful” person.

I’m glad God loved me for more than just being useful or I’d be afraid daily of getting struck down. Because days like the one today, let’s just say I just plain was not useful to society okay. It was not a useful day up in here.

Anyways. This message got me thinking. About how we respond to commands.

Commands. Ugh. What a religious word, eh?

No. What’s religious is the people who came up to Jesus and asked,

“And who is my neighbor?”

What’s not religious is that Jesus was like, “Everybody. Even the people you hate, who are dangerous to your children, who don’t give a crap about God, or who maybe do but you just don’t bother to give them a chance.” (aka the Good Samaritan story. This is the Meg paraphrase okay.)

You see, we all have this deep need to be justified.

Justified? What do you mean, Meg?

Justified. As in,

We all have this inherent need
to be able
to live with ourselves.

Not necessarily live with all our decisions. But rather, what kind of people we generally see ourselves as.

If anything or anybody threatens our good view of ourselves, how do we seek justification?

we have 4 options.

One. We lower the standard.

This is what the Pharisees did. (In case you don’t know I’m alluding to Luke 10:29-37 and the Pharisees are comparable to the “Christian” today who gets the most media attention and who has probably scarred you personally in some way. I share my Christian label with Christ, not these people.)

Nobody’s perfect. Nobody can love everybody. So instead of including everybody as our neighbor, we only include certain people.

And these certain people are, of course, the people we already love. Because if we’re already loving all the right people? We can live with ourselves.

You might only love people who are a lot like you. You might only love people whom you find useful. Or easy to get along with. Or who have the same skin color as you. Or the same native language as you. Or the same religion as you. Or the same sexual orientation as you.

Well, good for you. You have just as much love as a Pharisee.

Two. We try harder… and still fail.

Okay, so maybe you’re not lowering the standard. Maybe you still believe you have an obligation to your neighbor.

Every. Single. Neighbor.

But now, you’re still gonna pretend it’s even possible to love your neighbor to the extent Jesus called us to?

You’ve gotta be kidding me.

Okay, yeah. It doesn’t hurt to try. But honey, you’re gonna kill yourself trying. It’s not gonna be pretty. As someone who went to college with a ton of social work students, I’ve seen the symptoms of this option number two. You can stay up 24 hours a day all your life helping people and you still won’t hit everyone.

You’re setting yourself up for failure.

So if I can’t lower the standard, but I also can’t reach the standard…

What’s left?
How do I live with myself?

Congratulations.
Like 80% of all humans never get to this point.
They all get trapped in one or two.

Three. We give up — bitter, angry and hurt.

Okay, maybe this one isn’t actually so noble. We’re at like 95% now. Even the most compassionate people often land here. After you work in social services for 3 years and see too many kids in situations so disturbing you don’t think anyone could understand even if you were allowed to breach confidentiality. Or after you work in a police office and see too many of your acquaintances doing horrible things with their lives and to the people around them. Or after the second (and third) spouse doesn’t work out, after you gave every second chance and hoped for the very best in them. Or after you work all your life trying to please God and these horrible things start happening and they get just so bitter at God, because,

He promised.

That
If you just try hard enough that you’ll be rewarded.

(Or is that the American Dream?)

These pains are legitimate. And they are the result of some beautiful, beautiful, futile intentions from number two.

And they lead you back to number one, and all the people with all the broken promises, including
and
especially
God,
become the very first people of whom you say, “I don’t have to love them. They are scum, and the only way I can live with myself, the only way I can keep them accountable for their evil,
is to show off
the scars they gave me
for the rest of my life.”

The greatest good is no longer to love. No. You make it your aim to see to it that everyone who is evil is ripped to shreds.

And once they are,

you can live with yourself.

These pains are legitimate. I see your scars, and they are real. As I friend, I will mourn with you over your pain. As a friend, I will hate the evil that you hate. As a friend, I will long for the ideals that your inner child still holds onto under the callouses caused by all the friction.

And as a friend, I can’t let you stay here. Not for too long.

Number four. We give up our pride.

No. This is a very different kind of giving up. This is an emptying. There is no bitterness here, because this is the point at which you say,

I am no different.

I am no different from the Pharisee
who strolled right past the dying man on the street.

I am no better, because just as that Pharisee despised that man,
I despise that Pharisee…

…and neither of us are justified.

He should not be able to live with himself.

But if I really look at myself and my own apathy and bitterness
and lowering of standards
and twisting of words to fit my current life patterns
and striving and failing to the point of “screw it why bother”

… I can’t live with myself, either.

This is where you say, “Frankly, there is nothing good left in me.
And I’m not entirely sure there ever was.”

This is where you say,  “Frankly, I hate to admit it, but I have no grounds on which to decide which people matter
and which people
don’t.”

This is where you say, “Frankly, even if I had infinite capacity to care for people in my world,
I wouldn’t.
Because I don’t even care for people
I
 do have the capacity
to care for.”

This is where you say, “Frankly, I can’t live with myself.
I have become so, so bitter.
My scars haven’t healed; they have gotten infected.
Their pain is spreading, their control over my life is spreading,
and the anger I feel inside at everyone who hurt me —
I’m projecting it onto every good social cause I can find…

so I can live with myself.”

You talk the talk, you strive to keep evil in line “out there”…
and yet, you can barely confront the evil
metastasizing
in your own
heart.

 

 

Sometimes it takes being dead on the street for a Samaritan to show up.

Sometimes it takes getting to number four
for Jesus to show up.

(Maybe this is what Jesus means when He says we have to die in order to live.)

 

Jesus didn’t stutter when He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” And He didn’t name a single individual or demographic the Pharisees were allowed not to love.

Jesus set the bar at perfection. To love 100% of everybody. Do we fail at this? Freaking yes. But instead of pretending we love everybody 100% perfectly as people are dying in our streets, how about let’s just like admit that we
don’t.

Jesus says, I didn’t come to heal the healthy, but the sick.

If all we do is just tell everyone (including ourselves) that we’re good people and we’re fine just as we are… our condition (whether diagnosed yet or not) will never improve.

The infections will spread under our cover-up and pain meds. And when the day of truth comes? We’ll be far sicker people than we ever imagined.

Sin is the number one cause of death…
and it’s preventable.

Guess what? Jesus is the master of curing preventable diseases.

Deny cancer and people around you will be happy with you
and you will feel strong. How dare someone tell you you’re “sick.” You are healthy.

Catch cancer early and you will live.

Jesus is the master of curing preventable diseases.

Most times, when you touch a sick person, you get sick. But when Jesus touches you, you get well.

 

 

If you’re a man with leprosy and Jesus tells you you’re sick,
you don’t spit in his face and say “How dare you call me sick!
How insulting!”

 

When Jesus asks,

“Do you want to be well?” (John 5:6)

There will be no healing for you
if you say,

“I’m already good enough.”

 

 

The Pharisees were “good enough.”

The man dying in the street was fine without you,
because he was already a
good, good,
healthy, healthy, person.

(He didn’t need you to share the gospel with him… he was fine. Let that sink in, Christian.)

“Everything’s fine. Just let people be.”

As a friend, Jesus gave you four options, but you will find that, out of love, He won’t leave you in any of the first three.

He won’t let you remain
“fine.”

He won’t stop until you are
well.

He would die to see you live…
but to live,
you must first see
that apart from His justification,
you are dead.

Jesus was the only man who ever lived a perfect life. Granted, He had supernatural power behind Him. But that’s what it took.

He lived a perfect life.
He loved perfectly.
He neither lowered the standard (number one)
nor fell short of it (number two)
and suffered for doing good, even unto death (number three).
He took the suffering we deserved.
He took up our infirmities.
Anything God hated in us —
Any wrath God may have had toward us —
Jesus took it,
Jesus EXHAUSTED it,
so that after all judgement toward us
had instead been laid on Jesus,
God had nothing left
but love
for us.

 

 

 

 

Jesus is the only man in history who was ever justified by His actions.

 

 

 

You know what you’re justified by?

Jesus.

 

 

 

Not your good works that you hope will outweigh your bad.

Not your arbitrary human standards of ethics (laws).

Not your ability to live with ourselves.

Just. Jesus.

 

 

 

 

What then? Are we any better? Not at all! For we have previously charged that both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin, as it is written:

There is no one righteous, not even one.
There is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned away;
all alike have become useless.
There is no one who does what is good,
not even one.
Their throat is an open grave;
they deceive with their tongues.
Vipers’ venom is under their lips.
Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.
Their feet are swift to shed blood;
ruin and wretchedness are in their paths,
and the path of peace they have not known.
There is no fear of God before their eyes.

Now we know that whatever the law says speaks to those who are subject to the law, so that every mouth may be shut and the whole world may become subject to God’s judgment. For no one will be justified in His sight by the works of the law, because the knowledge of sin comes through the law.

But now, apart from the law, God’s righteousness has been revealed—attested by the Law and the Prophets —that is, God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe, since there is no distinction. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.God presented Him as a propitiation through faith in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His restraint God passed over the sins previously committed.God presented Him to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be righteous and declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus.

Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By one of works? No, on the contrary, by a law of faith. For we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. Or is God for Jews only? Is He not also for Gentiles? Yes, for Gentiles too, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then cancel the law through faith? Absolutely not! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

Paul of Tarsus, Romans 3:9-31

21241735868_49c28122b1

Back in the spring, I had a friend who is running her own creative company. She knew I was starting a creative company myself, and also that I was just feeling overwhelmed by the uncertainty and responsibility that comes with entrepreneurship. She herself was struggling to make ends meet from this company at the time, and so was working a full-time job in retail on top of bootstrapping her company. Nevertheless, as someone with more experience, she gave me some practical advice on how I could structure my schedule and my contracts.

But in addition to practical advice, she also gave me a verse from Scripture that stuck out to her:

“[M]ake it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you….” 1 Thessalonians 4:11

I am conflicted by this verse. As someone who is driven to her core by the idea of significance, it baffles me. “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life?” As with any paradox in the Scriptures, I have been drawn to whatever is at the bottom of it. As I’m just now in a season where I’m trying to turn from excess, the Holy Spirit has been bringing it back to mind so much it’s annoying.

I figure He’s annoying me for a reason, and that I should probably finally address this verse. So that’s what I’m going to do. :)

Context

Before we dive in, I want to give the premise of this verse. In this passage, the apostle Paul is talking to a group of people who had just turned from idolatry, sold many of their possessions, and were trying to figure out how to depend on God in it all. Paul also addressed both people who worked very hard, and people who refused to work, as well as people who minded their own business and gossipers who minded everyone else’s.

Here is Matthew Henry’s Commentary on this verse:

Satan is very busy to disquiet us; and we have that in our own hearts that disposes us to be disquiet; therefore let us study to be quiet. It follows, Do your own business.When we go beyond this, we expose ourselves to a great deal of inquietude. Those who are busy-bodies, meddling in other men’s matters, generally have but little quiet in their own minds and cause great disturbances among their neighbours; at least they seldom mind the other exhortation, to be diligent in their own calling, to work with their own hands; and yet this was what the apostle commanded them, and what is required of us also. Christianity does not discharge us from the work and duty of our particular callings, but teaches us to be diligent therein.

Henry contrasts the idea of quietness with that of “disquiet” — that is, anxiety or worry. Yet, it is of note that he does not contrast quietness with diligent, difficult work. This is validating for me, in the sense that entrepreneurship is, indeed, difficult work.

An an entrepreneur, my work is indeed difficult, and takes up a larger proportion of my life and focus than many other jobs would require. However, I don’t think I’m an outlier in this sense. Every working person devotes a considerable amount of time to their job, career, or vocation.

However, what confuses and frustrates me is that I often receive advice that seems to be a warning against of the destructive nature of honest, hard work. Whether this is intended or not, I walk away from this advice either feeling guilty for working too diligently, or not diligently enough.

6 Dimensions of a quiet life.

From my wrestlings with this verse, I have identified 6 different dimensions of a quiet life. Practicing these dimensions well is impossible, of course, apart from the grace of God, the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and wills, and the sacrifice of Jesus which gave us free access to the two aforementioned blessings.

1. Renunciation of the culture of busyness.

Quietness isn’t necessarily about removing ourselves entirely from the noise of the world. Indeed, we are called to engage our world (John 17:13, 15, 17). However, we are to be set apart from the world. Part of this is to set aside not only time, but focus and attention, toward God, rather than toward the work of our hands. Jesus often went off on his own, away from people, not just to enjoy being in nature, but moreso to enjoy the presence of God and bring His (Jesus’) emotions and thoughts to His Father to be processed.

As an introvert, I tend to long for “quietness” as in being away from people. However, often my time by myself is not restful or focused on God, but rather focused on my worries and obligations. This is idolatry! I admit that, when I sense God calling me to come to Him and gain focus and direction for my life, I allow my own worries to be stronger than God’s presence in my life.

2. Simplicity of purpose.

It seems there has to be an element of simplicity in a quiet life. Even if our obligations are complex, we must leave room in our minds to remember why we’re doing what we’re doing — mainly, for the purpose of experiencing and overflowing with love (1 Thess 3:12). If this is not our purposes, then something has become more important in our lives than the Great Commandment — to love God and man — and thus, we are deeming our purposes more important than those of a being who is in charge of our existence. Does this strike a certain respect in you? If not, you have ascribed greater power and authority to man than to God. If the one who has decided to keep you alive (and who died for you, at that!) tells you the greatest thing is love, then you’d best do everything with love.

The moment we forget this, our priorities get out of line, and life gets complex — as do our motives. Once we are motivated by something other than love, we are no longer single-minded — simple and focused in our vision — but double-minded (James 4:8). We will not be productive, but will spin our wheels on things that really don’t matter. And we will miss out on significance through depth that blurred focus simply cannot provide.

3. Rest.

When I think of rest, I think of either nature, or just this ideal state of never being stressed. Ultimately, I think of just a general lack of complexity of tasks. However, I don’t think perception is entirely true.

I think it’s possible to be involved in a complexity of different activities, but still to have rest. Again, it goes back to attitude. Am I involved in things because I want to impress people?  Be able to live with myself? Be proud of myself? Or am I involved in things because I’m genuinely invested in the people and causes? If I’m spread too thin, I can’t be invested, and I can’t love. And I’m working overtime with no eternal pay.

4. Dependence.

The church in Thessalonica gave away their possessions because they realized material things, people, and other Pagan gods were taking God’s place in their lives. They went from one form of material dependence (being controlled by their things) to potentially another (being dependent on people for their lack of things).

A quiet life is neither marked by

5. Diligent work.

The idea of quietness seems to be in direct opposition to the American culture — one driven by living big, living loud, and drowning in busyness. At first glance, it seems this verse is all about abandoning this culture. In some respects, this is what this verse is about — but not abandoning the culture altogether, but rather, being set apart from the culture of busyness.

In reading the rest of 1 Thessalonians, I find Paul not only permits hard work, but exemplifies it (1 Thess 2:9) and commands it. the apostles’ working day and night so they wouldn’t be a burden to anyone.

Not because we should not work hard, but because we should neither strive to please people (1 Thess 2:6) nor depend on people (1 Thess 4:11), but rather to please God and depend on God.

6. Surrender.

God is a God of paradoxes.

To work with all our hearts, but also to abide in a place of rest.
To be quiet, but also to take His message to the ends of the earth. He asks us to be completely dependent (on Him), but also not to depend on anyone (that is, on this earth).
To work amid a culture of busyness and gossip,— day in and day out — and yet not to fall into busyness and disquiet, slander, and greed.
To rest and enjoy life, but also to be ever sober-minded and alert at all times.

Anyone who attempts these things in their own strength will either end up feeling like a fool, or believing God to be a fool for commanding the impossible.

It is impossible to live a quiet life apart from God. Yet, as Jesus says, Matthew 19:26, “With man, this is impossible. But with God, all things are possible.”

God is not unfair to command the impossible to people to whom He has given the ability to do the impossible.

This ability does not come from an optimistic or humanistic belief in the power of man. It comes from the fact that the infinite power of an infinite God, through Christ, can dwell in finite man, making Him capable of holiness (Colossians 1:27).

Apart from God, we cannot even wish to be holy; it is God who plants in us a desire to comply with His will (Phil 2:13). Apart from God, we can strive for quietness, and indeed, we will long for it like a thirsting man lost at sea. Yet our thirst will never be satiated until we drink of the Holy Spirit.

In order to experience true quietness, we must surrender. We must admit that we’d rather live a life of busyness, blame, imbalance, striving, and control than to let God have His way in our lives.

If you’re never surrendered your life to God, you can do so by expressing to Him (out loud, in your mind, or on paper) that you can’t quench your thirst for quietness in your own strength, and ask for Him to impart His supernatural strength and Spirit on you, so you can live as you were designed.

If you have surrendered your life to God before, but are struggling to find quietness (like me), you can surrender with me tonight. You can ask for God’s strength to come on you, an for His Spirit to direct you in a way you could never direct your own life, no matter how many nice-sounding quotes you memorize or well-intended ambitions you have.

Lord, it is your wish for me to live a life of quietness of spirit. I ask that you would be the center of my work. I ask that you would provide for me in everything, and that you would even provide for me the trust I need to believe that you will provide! I ask that I would depend not on my own efforts, or the efforts of others, to sustain me, but rather depend on You. That way, I can work as You call me to work, but will not overwork out of greed, or underwork out of laziness or discouragement. Provide for me abundantly so I don’t have to depend on others, but instead Your love can abound to them through the abundance I freely give to others. My I have plenty of my time, focus, love, and diligence in just the right amounts to the exact people You have called me to affect. I know it is only through a life of quietness and surrender that my life will speak your message loudly. Amen.

black_plastic_glasses
At the eye doctor, if you see blurry, you aren’t given a colored lens. You’re given a lens that makes things *clear.*
 
Everyone comes in with a different level of blurriness or color-blinded or astigmatism. Therefore, the prescribed lens is different for everyone…But it is always *corrective* in nature.
 
That is, your unique prescription *conforms* you closer to accurate vision. Not to see diversely, but to see clearly.
 
It is only this lens that brings about the most *diversity* in the shapes and colors that actually exist.
 
We all have lenses, whether they’re the ones we’re born with, or the ones we’ve put on. The question the eye doctor asks (hopefully!) is not, “Who’s to say that’s really an E at the top of the chart? After all, we all have different perspectives.”
 
That’s not helpful at all! It’s great this doctor accepts you for who you are with your great jokes and your horrible vision alike… but even greater he would be to offer you better sight!
 
Rather, the most helpful question your eye doctor could ask is, “What adjustment do you, uniquely, need to receive, in order to see reality *more accurately?*”
 
You’ll see spiders and snakes more accurately, and you’ll see flowers and leaves more accurately.
 
Nobody has perfect vision. But this doesn’t make blurry vision “beautiful” or “diverse.” Rather, this fact reveals that each of us has the same need for eyecare, regardless of what type of blind spot we may have.
 
Of course, we cannot give ourselves accurate lenses. We must avail ourselves to the test, which reveals our faults. Only by availing ourselves to the eye doctor and his test can we have clear vision. And even then, we must return frequently to continue to see rightly. Many people forget that.
 
You see?
 
Isaiah 42:18

Today I went to a business luncheon. I was the youngest person there. The majority of the people there were presidents and CEO’s of their own companies. Some of them small (17 employees or so), some of them small (200+ employees). The term “small business” is much bigger than you might think. That is crazy. They were all talking about what kind of insurance and health care they offer their employees, and how some won’t take it.

I live with my parents and am on my dad’s insurance. My company is pretty much covered.

But eventually, I might be in their position. That is crazy. Of course, if you told me 5 years ago I’d be here, it would also seem crazy.

5 years, 10 years.
20 years.
Lots can happen.

And it does.

At this luncheon, I was asked to talk about what I had done for a company on its social media pages.

“How many of you have done sales and marketing?” I asked.
Everyone raised their hand.
“What is the most effective way to advertise for your company?”
“Radio,” said the radio station guy.
Everyone lolled. I laughed, but awkwardly, giving the impression I didn’t get the joke (though I did).

“…Word of mouth,” said the business advisor guy, finally. (He did a lot to salvage my reputation at that meeting, not to mention many other situations.)

“That’s right,” I continued. “And social media and email marketing afford us just one more opportunity to share something directly with a friend.”

Sometimes I know what I’m talking about. …Sometimes, I pretend.

When I know what I’m talking about, it’s usually theology or math or logic or grammar. When I don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s usually history or business, or social media.

After my little spiel, the president of an oil & gas company came up to me, asking me a question. Like a wise man does. You know, when he knows the answer already, but wants to watch your mind tick.

“I find that social media is a great way to spread awareness,” he said. “When someone on social media sees a justice issue, like, for example, what’s going on in Syria, they have a visceral reaction: ‘This is not fair. Something must be done about this.’

“But when it comes time to give to an organization that is working to alleviate the issue” — he holds his hands up and shakes his head — “people back away.

“My question for you is, ‘How do you get people, through social media, to commit to something?'”

At first, I pretended what I was talking about. After all, I’m a social media “expert.” Whatever that means. And social media is crucial for any business, regardless of industry. Right? Right. I explained how it might be good to set up some kind of event, or to just keep at it with the drip marketing, or to really push the last-minute sign-ups.

But he continued to give examples of times when social media did not produce engagement. He also shared how some of his family members’ acquaintances learn of events in his family’s life before he even does, simply by virtue of being on Facebook. And I finally realized, he was right. And I knew nothing about social media.

And though he was never on social media, he knew more about it than I did.

“My generation is the most interconnected generation in history,” I said.

“But we’re also the loneliest.

“We go to social media to find relationships. And social media can be a great tool to communicate with people like never before. But ironically, they’re the last place we find deep relationships.”

Since this talk, I’ve been thinking a lot about social media and influence and relationships and fruitfulness. I also saw this quote the other day by Pericles, a philosopher guy. It was on a card, but it hit me:

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”

Instagram or it didn’t happen.

Often I get this subconscious urge to “report” to social media. Like, at the end of the day. Or if I ever just feel like something I’m experiencing is beautiful.

This has stolen a place in my life that was once reserved for God.

It was God to whom I used to report at the end of the day. In my journals. “Dear God, here’s what happened today.” And I found fellowship with Him. He would rejoice with me, and mourn with me, and sometimes He would speak into my experiences and give me insight and wisdom, and sometimes that fellowship in itself would be enough.

Ever since social media became a thing, honestly?

My relationship with God has never been the same… in the worst way.

Well, I’m tired of that. I get sick of social media for that very reason.

It’s like my experiences aren’t legitimate
or conclusive
or finished
until I “report” them to social media.

I’m sick of that.

Why do I hesitate to sit on a beautiful hill and not take a picture, and just enjoy the moment?

Why do I get stuck on my phone or laptop late at night instead of getting stuck on a passage of Scripture that cuts to my heart, or simply resonates with me in a way that helps me make sense of things?

Jesus is a man of paradoxes. He would tell people to become less to become greater. Do do good deeds in secret if you want to be seen by God.

I miss that secret place.
Where I found intimacy with God.
Where I found real relationships with whole people,
instead of blue, blue thumbs
and pale, pale hearts
that I superimpose on people’s filtered pictures
that they feel obligated to post
to feel valued and included.

I miss that secret place, where I could take walks in the rain,
and nobody had to know.

God, bring me back to that place. Only you can rip me from the vices of social media. I know you can use social media for your glory, but I ask you will just keep it in its rightful place.

So you can have Your rightful place in my life:

The first
and the last
of my day,
and everything in between.

I want You to be my obsession.

You
and You
alone.

And nobody has to know.

This new, minimalistic blog is my anthem to being unknown. I will not share this post on all my social media channels, with great pictures and SEO and optimal posting times. Because the most valuable treasures are hidden.

My marketing at work can be loud. But here, here,
the world is quiet here.

 

This morning, I’m going to a luncheon for one my clients, the Colorado Christian Business Alliance. I consider CCBA my first legitimate client at Envoi Creative, the online presence company I started in March 2015. At this luncheon, a guy is going to record me answering the question, “Why should Christians work together?” I didn’t really know what to say, so I thought I’d write it out first.

Why should Christians work together?

In the very first chapters of human history, God created something called a vocation.
In doing so, he asked the first people to cultivate a garden.
To call each strange new living thing by name.
To discover new things, and having learned them,
to help new generations discover these things anew.

This vocation included boundaries. Saying no to certain things
in order to say yes to better things.
Making vowed commitments to one another so each one could live in safety and security
without having to strive or perform.

God’s goal was not for men and women to try to be like God. In fact, they already were, just by virtue of being themselves. In fact, to be like God was the goal of the serpent. To reject God’s garden and build up a factory that would allow the serpent to rule apart from God. This was not God’s goal, because this goal, although productive in one sense, lead to loneliness and abuse and power struggles and death.

God’s goal was not for men and women to try to be like him. No, his goal was just for them to be with him.

Together.

In John chapter 17, God became like man. In fact, it was in this chapter of history when he is most clearly human. He is afraid. He is desperate. He is looking for any way but God’s way to go about things. Of course, he does not ever turn from God’s ways even in this time. Which is why we can view his words with certainty that they are the words God Himself would say.

In John chapter 17, God, who became a man, prayed to God. He prayed for, well, us. Christians. Not just the ones he interacted with in that time, but even those way in the future, He said. Of all the things he could pray for, he prayed for one thing.

One.

That we would be
one.
The kind of oneness that God the Son
has with God the Father
has with God the Spirit.

That we would be
one
with God,
And that we would be
one
with one
another.

At two of the most significant points in history —
the beginning of humanity,
and the victory of humanity —
we see two things God has called us to:

A vocation
And unity.

That is why Christians should work together.

The fact is, I’m writing again.

I don’t know what you like to do.
But do you have one of those things that,
if you don’t do it,
you’re just not yourself?

Like, a ritual you have in the morning,
like exercise,
or reading,
or praying,
or drinking nasty smoothies,
or, you know, breathing?

Because writing is like that for me.

When I don’t write, I lose touch of myself. My emotions. My thoughts. I forget what I’m fighting for.

I’ve heard people say, “It’s easy to just go through the motions.” Well, no, it’s not.

It’s hard to go through the motions. That’s why we don’t stop and think. Because stopping and thinking is like piling one more thing on top of everything.

Ah… And that is the point where it’s about time life gets a little easier, isn’t it?
Because you need to make room for the hardest things, the things that are hard but worth it.

Or else life is both hard and not worth it.
At the same time.
Which just sucks all around.

Life will be hard either way. I want it to be hard with joy and purpose and meaning
far beyond passing on more life and more death to more people.
You never meet a mortal.

I was so sick of being on WordPress, because, it’s my job.

I’d design a website, then get on my own website and be irritated by everything I saw wrong on my blog. And so I’d spend time on designing by blog, but never writing.

But this weekend, I finally swept the design out of the way so I can just
write.

These are words you see.

Not calls to action. Not pictures that try to sweep your 8-second attention back from your feed that is gawking over Miley Cyrus or helpless lions (but not brave lambs).

I have no agenda now. In the next 1-2 years, I will write a book. Maybe another devotional. But here, I just want a place where I can be
me.

The best part is, only the people who really want to read will read.

I’ve always wanted to be a mystery… but I’ve always longed to be known at the same time. Maybe that’s just a human thing… Reminds me of Proverbs 25:2:

“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter;
to search out a matter is the glory of kings.”

There is something unique about mystery. It takes work to search it out. But there is something so glorious about discovering something for yourself… something that doesn’t happen if you’re just given all of someone or something after just one night.

It’s the best kind of work.

There’s value in discovering something (or someone) slowly. And maybe that’s why sometimes I just feel… buried?

Maybe that’s why when you ask God a question about why something is the way it is, that He doesn’t just say, “Well, because, Meg, blah blah blah.” And that’s the end of it.

If you are given math homework and get all the answers, you’ll never discover the beauty behind the way our world is so, so ordered. So intentional down to the smallest quark. You’ll never get to see your light bulb come on by the sheer patience of your mind to search the ins and outs of how something works… and why. 

The fact is, the deeper you dive into a mystery, the smaller you feel, the more questions you have, and yet the more confident you are that this is what you’re living for.

I have an extreme fear of letting people down. And also, being unpopular. And also, of going through the motions.

Haha. But I am all of these.

I will let people down. I have a pretty unpopular worldview that most people don’t understand, and that I don’t even really understand myself most of the time. Oftentimes I don’t even want to believe it. But I’ve been shown too much…

It would be a lie to run away.

Lately I’ve been annoyed by God.

I don’t want to live like He wants me to live. I want to go through the motions, and do the work that already seems hard enough. I want to work all day every day, not take a rest. It seems so meaningless. And yet, the fact is, I envy the richness of meaning that exists beyond productivity. I envy it.

People who can handle life better than me, they rest. And have families. And jobs. And houses they own. Not me. I have a job. No family. No house of my own.

Maybe I find more of my self-worth in my job than God does.

Boy, am I glad he sees me for more than just what I can offer to society or even to Him. He isn’t Utilitarian like I am. Which is more evidence to me that I didn’t just make him up. If I made up God, he would completely support my destructive lifestyle.

I want to be just one part of me. Not all parts of me.

I want to put forth the parts of myself that are strong and that can handle every day life on my own, not the weak parts and the parts I’m ashamed of and that actually need other people.

And because of that, I have a history of tearing myself in half.

Strong-Me gets straight A’s and is always encouraging, while weak-me has an eating disorder and feels lie the most unknown, hidden person on earth. That was high school.

Now, my duplicity every threatens to return. But that’s okay. Because the fact is,
the God Who Annoys Me
is the very one
who holds me
together.

Not music. Not work. Not people. Not dreams of what life could be if I had my own way.

Because the fact is,
you can’t change the facts.

And that is so hard
and so irritatingly
good.