Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A Couple of Saturdays Ago....

This past Saturday was a very strange, spiritual, and surprisingly uplifting day. For those who don't know, I've been a fairly busy person lately. I'm student teaching, working on a very limited part-time basis, and was acting in a play. I haven't had much down-time, Tom-time as I like to call it. I've been in a state of almost constant movement, interrupted only occassionally by moments of sleep and stagnation playing a video game. I've only been reading and trying to meditate on one Bible verse a day and most of my prayer life has been these quick shout-up send-outs that are extremely heartfelt and sincere, but also very short. At the same time, I've haven't felt distant from God. I know that I've been doing the things I'm supposed to do. I know I've been following closely at His side, though He's had to lift me up and carry me a lot more than I would like. Things have been going well.

But on Saturday, I got mad at God. For starters, the play I was in closed Saturday. It's almost always bittersweet when a show closes (usually more bitter than sweet) and this past Saturday was no exception. My emotions are usually always tuned up on play days and on a final day even more. There was also emotions I was struggling with, concerning a girl (perhaps I'll write about tomorrow) that I was wading through, that I really didn't want to deal with. In the morning I was supposed to mow my family's yard only to discover that my brother had emptied all the gas cans and I had to drive 14 miles to the nearest gas station to buy gas to mow the lawn even though I haven't been able to afford putting gas in the car I drive to school and work each day. I was listening to the radio and the speakers were talking about the earthquake in Pakistan and my initial reaction was, "Who gives a f***. This is how it starts, the world coming to an end. What do I care if 10,000 people died in some earthquake 9,000 miles away. I just hope some of them knew Jesus." I couldn't believe the thoughts I was thinking and that's when I started to ball and hot tears ran down my face.

Had I really become so calloused? Is this what I'm really like? Why was I thinking these things? I had to look deep inside myself and quite frankly, I discovered things I didn't expect to find. Without Jesus in my life, those initials thoughts are perfectly normal. If the universe has no purpose, if our lives are truly devoid of meaning other than to perpetuate the human species and not destroy the world as we are taught, then why should we care about human angst and anguish half-a-world away? Better them than us. Better 10,000 poor Muslim Pakistanis than 10,000 afluent Americans. Sin causes us to think these things, to sometimes feel this way, and every once in awhile to even act on these thoughts and feelings.

But I'm not really that way. I hurt just about everytime I see someone injured, just about everytime I hear about someone abused, just about everytime I talk with a student or camper who is hurting deep inside. Most of the time, I feel like John Coffey in Stephen King's THE GREEN MILE who talks about when he sees a person suffering, it makes his head hurt like shards of glass poking in his mind. That's how I feel most of the time. Most of the time when I look around at all the pain and suffering around me, I feel like there are shards of glass poking in my mind. There is so much pain. So much anguish. So much despair and suffering. And most of the time, I think that John Coffey (yes, I know he's a fictional character, but stick with me) was lucky. Coffey actually had the ability to heal people. He could touch people, to take their suffering inside of himself and exhale it like a quickly evaporating noxious gas. It reminds me of the Apostles and how Peter and Paul and Phillip and Thomas and Andrew and all the others walked around with the same suffering around them, but were able to bend over, touch the outcasts, meet them where they were, and say, "In the name of Jesus Christ, you are healed." Then those people were healed: the blind could see, the lame could walk, the deaf could hear, the lepers turned to normalcy. So often in my life I have begged God to give me that power. I see so much pain and suffering around me. I see so many people hurting. I just want to (and sometimes have tried to) lay my hands and cry out "In the name of Jesus Christ, the one and only son of the one and only God, be healed." I guess I don't have the faith of the mustard seed because as far as I know, Jesus has never physically healed anyone through me. In fact, I know more people I have prayed with and for who have died or gotten more ill or who have suffered more than people whose lives suddenly improved.

The revelation that hit me was this. Despite how far I've come in my life, despite the fact that I've walked beside Jesus since I was a child, despite the fact that I've seen God do some incredible things in my life and I have and do testify about those things, despite the fact that most of the time I think with and in the Spirit, I am still a sinner. There is still sin within me. No matter how long I live or how much work God does in and through me during this life, I will always be tainted with sin. Remember all those "just abouts" and "most of the times" I mentioned? Yeah, most of the time, I'm aligned with Christ. But, there are times (more times than I'm aware) when I'm not. Sin, which causes so much pain and suffering, taints my life just as much as anyone elses. Thus, grace truly is amazing.

After realizing this, I felt totally in despair. The hot tears continued to run down my cheek. I gave up the most reasonable opportunity I ever had to make a break in the motion picture business and all the dreams I ever had since I was a kid to follow God's leading into teaching. When He told me, "Follow me, Tom. I know how much you want this, but not in your time, in My time," I believed Him. I wrestled every night with God for almost 6 months, but I accepted. I chose the path I knew God was calling me down: one of service and sacrifice in a place where I could for the moment be most used. C.S. Lewis once said that we don't know what sacrifice is until it hurts and I have to admit that the past few months I've been sacrificing and it hurts like the dickens (it really sucks not knowing exactly what or when you're going to be eating each day) and I don't like the way it hurts, but because of all the pain and suffering I've seen elsewhere, my pain has been diminished. Through my outburst and the revelation I had, I was reminded that even though I am still a sinner and will always be tainted by that sin, God still loves me. Not only that, but even though there is so much horror happening in the world, the little things I do each day--the student I cheer up in my classroom, the outcasted girl in the theatre who I befriend, the small amount of grace I try to show before I eat my food, the dime I place in the offering which might not seem like much but actually does hurt me financially, these things do matter. I was reminded that I, we, should keep doing these things. Big things will come along some day, but if I am not faithful in the small things, I won't be very faithful in the big things either.

Then I mowed the yard and created the Internet. :)

1 comment:

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