Sunday, April 29, 2007

A moment of relative silence

I say "relative" because it seems that this house in which I currently live does not see complete silence on the best of days. Sacrifices are indeed made in the life of ministry.
It's now 11:30 in the evening and I should really be heading to bed to rest up for a big day of ordination studies tomorrow but I've unfortunately been thinking again.
A dear friend, though one with whom I've not spent nearly enough time, left a comment on my last post (for those who may not be plugged into facebook, my blog posts are imported to facebook and the comment was left there). In reading the particular comment I began to think of how much respect I have for some people.
There are some people who truly eminate Christ in their personality and practice. There are those who are just so full of Christ that when you see them all you can think is "that is a devoted follower of Christ". It's an incredible thing to witness, but something that blesses me to no end when I run into such people. Of course even the "greatest" of humans has his or her quirks and "downfalls" (for lack of a better term, I should really get into reading dictionaries), but there are definitely some people who, with the way they live and love, somehow make you forget the idiocyncracies of flawed humanity about them.
I suppose upon closer inspection of anyone, one could see the carnality of behaviour, even in the most radiant believer. But I do have to say that I so long to be the kind of person in whom Christ can be seen.
I want to be the kind of person who is humble about himself and boastful of God. I want to be lost in the background of an extravagant scene of servanthood in which only Christ can be seen. I want to be forgotten in the midst of Christ being glorified by anything that might come from my mouth or actions.
The very thought of this brings tears to my eyes mainly because it seems so far from where I am now that I grieve my own inadequacy. But, even as these tears arrive I do remember the reality of the gospel and the words of the apostle Paul as he passionately persued righteousness and urged his Galatian brothers and sisters to do the same said "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me."
Ah, what a sweet melody. Christ lives in me, as long as I live in this body it is by faith in the Son of God who not only loved me, but sacrificed himself for me. It's a love story, of which I am so graciously able to be a part.
I've not arrived, I've not made it, I've not even come close. And oh how I long to reach that goal that has been set, as Paul again asserts he has not "already attained all of this or have already been made perfect" but I will "press on toward the goal, to win the prize, for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
Some are just closer to their master than others and I think we see that in the maturity and and composure of those whose walk is closer with Christ.
It's an idealistic approach to a relationship with Christ, I recognize this, but I think we can all think of at least one person who displays qualities of such a relationship with Christ.

And thanks Mel for your kind and encouraging words, God's timing is indeed perfect.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

I see things upside down

It might be because I'm thinking on things of the past today, due to my day starting off (quite early I might add) with a men's study group working through the Wild At Heart video series. Or maybe it's because I'm hanging upside down, but I'm thinking upon life in a slightly different genre of thought this evening.
The likelihood of the latter being the case is slim to none because I've not spent much time in the upside down position before, but the former may have something to offer for a reason. Though I must quickly give props to Derek Webb for the title of his album "I See Things Upside Down", but I will continue with my train of thought.
About a year ago now I read Wild At Heart for the first time upon suggestion from a trusted friend. When I first being wading through the pages and thinking upon the suggestions of John Eldredge to what happens in the heart of a man, everything within me wanted to revolt. In fact I'm sure there's probably a post from when I first began the book where I discussed my stirred spirit. I remember thinking that I was being insulted and basically called a sissy because I didn't fit the mold of what a "man" should be.
Of course, just like the old saying "you can't judge a book by its cover", I think it's fair to suggest that you can't judge a book until you've finished it. As I read on, I began to resonate more and more with the concepts brought forth by Eldredge.
That was much more detail than was needed, but I've recently within the last couple weeks, jumped into taking a journey through the book again, this time with a group of men, much older than me. It's great to actually discuss many thoughts I've had previously (even a year old) instead of just thinking them through on my own.
I think one word that can describe my experiences of the last year or so could very easily be "alone." This doesn't necessarily have a negative connotation to it, though there have definitely been moments of negative aloneness since graduating from school, rather it's more of an accurate description of the forrest through which I've stumbled as life has continued on without me. By that I mean, I don't think I've accurately or properly continued into this still so new phase of post-graduate (not to be confused with post-grad studies) lifestyle. Life beyond school.
This morning as we met and watched a couple scenes from Disney's The Kid as well as the video of Eldredge and his boys for the study, I saw myself in Bruce Willis' character as a grown man in the movie. For those familiar, or not familiar with Eldredge's book, he speaks of a "wound" that every man has sustained at some point in his life (please note, I'm speaking in personal terms, not excluding women in any way except that I'm not one). I'm not the type to adhere to the victim mentality, that somehow it's not my fault for stuff that's happened in my life, in fact I err on the opposite side of that coin, where I take perhaps more responsibility than I should for negative (and even perhaps positive) things that occur. But, regardless, the point is that starting to work through that topic again has caused me to think about a lot of different things.
Do I believe I've been "wounded" if that's what you want to call it, then yes. I think there are instances in my life, words said, words not said, and experiences that I've had that have contributed to my tendancy to isolate myself from others and even moreso close myself off from relational intimacy. I think Eldredge is right when he says that a man needs to face or "walk into" the wound(s) he has endured. The conversation this morning in the video and in the group led to conclusions of many that their "wound" was received from their father. Not necessarily deliberate or even blatent, but boys/young men seek validation from their fathers and don't always receive it. I can't say I didn't receive validation from my own father, he's great! My dad's always been very vocal (whether with spoken or written word) about how proud he is of me and such. So I sat (and now sit) thinking, "I can't pin point a place of a person where that might have happened" and I don't think I need to per se. I don't think it's something that needs to identified specifically to a certain event, rather it's something that needs to be recognized as falsehood, released to Christ and then you're well on your way, maybe not over it, but well on your way to "recovery" of your soul (or however Eldredge may choose to say it).
So I don't sit here a critic tonight, rather I'm sitting here as one trying to identify those things in my own heart that are hindering me from real, deep, meaningful relationships that are Christ centered and healthy from all angles, in order to begin dealing with them and welcoming new realms of relational intimacy that I'm so desperately craving but so innately terrified of.
I guess recognizing that there is something I'm petrified to allow myself to experience again is a good start towards re-discovering some aspects of life on this earth that God has wired into all of us.
Keeping others at arms length is a tiresome game that I'm not ready to keep up much longer, I suppose it's just a matter of allowing myself to be vulnerable again, even if it doesn't always work out for the best for me.
"Let go and let God" is beginning to take on significant meaning to me now.