Archive for March, 2007

Two Trees

March 26, 2007

Here’s my C.S. Lewis quote for the day:

Human beings are not [separate]. They look separate because you see them walking about separately. But then, we are so made that we can see only the present moment. If we could see the past, then of course it would look different….

If you could see humanity spread out in time, as God sees it, it would not look like a lot of separate things dotted about. It would look like one single growing thing–rather like a very complicated tree…

Once again, I thought this occurred to me on my own. Then I went and picked up my copy of Mere Christianity and realized that Lewis wrote about it long before I ever thought of it. Come to think of it, I’m sure read it there first, then thought that it was my idea. Nothing new under the sun.

It’s true, though. There are in fact two trees growing around us today. One of them is rotting. The other has healing in its leaves.

Two humanities growing side by side, even intertwining, like two vines growing together. At times they seem like the same tree. But they are very different from one another. One produces death and one produces life. Sounds like a story we learned once, doesn’t it?

If we could interview the leaves of these trees and ask them, “How do you make your fruit?” They would reply that they don’t know. They don’t have a method. There are no classes that teach them how to be what they are. All they do is just remain in the vine. Just being a part of their respective trees makes them do what they do.

Remain in me, and you will bear much fruit.

I don’t know for sure what it looks like to remain in Him. But in practical terms, I’ve got a notion that it has to do with being in the Church. I don’t mean that just being there finishes the job. There’s more to it. There’s a conscious practice of attending to His presence in our lives. But even that works better when surrounded by others of the same stock. Remaining in Him must have something to do with making the Church your home. It is Him.

I need the Church.


Carpe Deus

March 15, 2007

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
—Ferris Bueller

Just a little stop-and-smell-the-roses thought for the day:

My wife and I were chatting the other day. She mentioned how easy it has become for us to ignore when good things happen.

It sounds sick and twisted once you say it out loud. But it’s true. I find it easy to dwell on bad things happening to me. For some reason I don’t like to dwell on things going well.

Maybe I’m worried that it will be gone so fast that it’ll hurt too much, so I just won’t enjoy it very much to begin with. But that’s just crazy if you think about it. More than that, I wonder if it gets in the way of something my Father is trying to do.

Ecclesiastes 7:14 says “When times are good, be happy.”

Who’d have thought we would have to be told to be happy when things go right? That verse goes on to say that when times are bad we should consider that God made both kinds of times. Both circumstances work to accomplish what He is doing in my life.

I’ve spent years getting used to the idea that suffering is from God. I’ve been drinking as deeply as I can from the well of God’s sovereignty. I find it to be a comfort in times of trial and pain. When life sucks it helps to know that God is in it, and that He’s up to something ultimately good.

I’ve gotten so accustomed to reminding myself of this when tough times come. I’ve forgotten that the same thing is true of good times.

You come across a windfall ($). Or you get that job you wanted. Or you get a positive job review just when you thought you were probably the world’s worst employee. Or your whole family is healthy and happy. Or… whatever. How often do you stop and ENJOY the good things God has sent your way?

If you don’t, maybe they’re wasted moments. Maybe something of God’s beauty and care get missed by us when we don’t savor the times He comes to us as pleasure, or joy, or excitement, or success. Aren’t these moments instances of our Father in heaven caring for our needs? Must we ignore them simply because we are afraid to enjoy them too much? The more I think about it, the more I realize that this would be a waste.

How would you like it if you did something for someone–something that would make their life a little better or a little easier–only to have them ignore it because they were too concerned with whatever the next challenge ahead of them will be? Wouldn’t that be rude?

I like the idea that I have a responsibility to enjoy the good things that God sends my way. I will decide to celebrate the successes He brings me, because I think this brings joy to Him.

By the way, I’m having a pretty good day.

My Ball and Chain

March 9, 2007

I live with someone who makes my life really difficult. I’ve known this person for a very long time, and I’ve gotta say that sometimes I wish I could get a break. This person is always making mistakes that I have to pay for. Some days I feel like I spend the whole day just cleaning up the messes this person leaves behind.

This thorn in my side has caused me to lose my job in the past. I fear sometimes that this individual will be a bad influence on the people around me, too. I know it seems obvious that I should probably stay away from anyone as bad as all this. But I’m stuck with him. This person is me.

Some people seem incapable of seeing when they are to blame for things going bad. They somehow never see their own faults. I don’t get people like that. I feel like I understand lots of different kinds of people. But I’ve never been able to understand people who don’t occasionally struggle with self-loathing. I can identify more with the great theologian, Pink, who said:

Every day I fight a war against the mirror
I can’t take the person starin’ back at me
I’m a hazard to myself.
Don’t let me get me
I’m my own worst enemy
It’s bad when you annoy yourself
So irritating
Don’t wanna be my friend no more
I wanna be somebody else

At least now I know there are other people out there who feel the same way.

Ready for a brighter note?

I believe God can save me… even from me.

I’ve recently decided that I will not lie down and succumb to this wave of angst. I believe the Spirit that I have received is capable of doing better than that. I refuse to give up on being free of this ball and chain, because I’ve seen the Lord rescue me before. I choose to trust that He will do it again. Day after day, I will come to Him and believe that He is bigger than this person that I live with.

It will be a long struggle–one that I will fight for the rest of my life. I know that. But I think I’m finally realizing that He intends to make something out of this mess that is me. He will not quit, so neither will I.

Almost sounds kinda hopeful, doesn’t it?