Sunday, September 30, 2007

Wrestling With God.

This past summer I heard a camp speaker whom I respect a great deal talk about how that if you decide to follow Christ, he won’t ask you to do something you really won’t want to do. He gave an illustration about a girl who wants to devote her life to Christ, but is afraid to give everything up because she’s afraid that he will ask her to go to the remote jungles of Africa and she really, really doesn’t want to get sent there. When the speaker spoke about this, I thought to myself, “That sounds good. I’d never really thought about it like that before.” Yet, there was something about what the speaker said that left my soul unsettled, as though something weren’t quite right. I wanted to believe what the speaker said. I wanted to believe it wholeheartedly, but the experiences of my life and some of the things God has asked me to do didn’t match up. I struggled with that then and I found myself still struggling with it today. Today I realized something. As I said before, I respect this speaker a great deal and I believe that’s why I wasn’t able to bring myself to the conclusion that I knew was true even at the time. You see, that speaker was wrong.

It is true that much of the time, God doesn’t ask us to do things that we don’t want to do or wouldn’t be inclined to doing anyway. Sometimes these things might be a bit uncomfortable, but they are not things that we are truly fearful of doing. However, there are times when God does ask us to do things that aren’t just uncomfortable, but are things that make us afraid. They are things that we vehemently fight against God about because they seem so contrary to reason, logic, and even our emotions.

There have been several times God has asked me to do things in my life that I was fearful of doing and did not want to do. Some of those things still don’t make sense to me today. I fought with God against these things, yet I know he wanted me to do them. When the speaker told us that God wasn’t going to ask us to do something we didn’t want to do, I knew from my life experience that wasn’t true. At the time, I couldn’t think of any Biblical evidence to support my claim., but as I was walking home from church this morning, and trying to figure out why things were so difficult I was reminded of several Bible stories. There’s Jonah. For many people, the Book of Jonah seems out of place with much of the Old Testament. I now have a better understanding of why it is there. God asked Jonah to do something he really didn’t want to do. In fact, Jonah thought it would be wrong of him to perform the task that was being asked of him. Jonah fought with God and even tried to run away, but in the end he did what God asked of him. Or take Gideon. Gideon knew God was leading him, a simply farmer, to lead a rag-tag army against the army of an empire. He didn’t want to do it. He knew what God was asking him, but he kept telling God that he needed to see signs to know for sure. Or how about Ezekiel? Ezekiel was a very faithful prophet but at one point in his life God asked him to spend over a year lying first on one side of his body and then the other and to cook his food using his own feces. I’m sure if you’d ask Ezekiel if he wanted to do that he would respond that he was happy to do anything God asked of him, but I bet if you kept pestering him about it he would eventually respond that no he really didn’t enjoy laying on his side all the time or eating food cooked over his own burning crap, but he knew he was supposed to be doing it.

Or take Jesus himself. Jesus was fully divine, but he was also fully human. In the Garden of Gethsemane he asked God three times to save him from having to be sacrificed. Jesus knew what had to be done, but he would have rather avoided it if he could.

I keep reminding myself of that; every moment is a Gethsemane. Still the struggle continues and there’s a whole lot of stuff happening that I don’t understand and that upsets me. Life doesn’t seem any easier and I feel more confused than ever, but the remembrance and knowledge is encouraging. I guess it’s like they used to say at the end of every G.I. Joe cartoon: “knowing is half the battle.”

Friday, September 28, 2007

Poetic Paragraph

Dancing with sadness I find my melancholy-tainted soul strangely strengthened by a sublime movement from beyond the spheres. Despite knowing from whence the movement comes, I continue to struggle through the emotions that I’d rather not feel, but am drawn to wrestle through. It is something I have to work out for myself. Still, the movement comes when most needed. It gives me the sliver of peace and hope that allows me to push beyond the caressing touches of sweet torment onto a small plateau of eternal joy and temporary happiness.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

August 2007

Books Read
I Sold My Soul on eBay By: Hemant Mehta
On Writing By: Stephen King

Movies Viewed for the First Time
Changing Lanes
The 40-Year-Old Virgin

The Illusionist
Without Limits

Due to a variety of circumstances, August was a very slow month for me both in reading and watching movies. I only finished two books. The first, I Sold My Soul on eBay, is written by an atheist who basically put himself up for sale on eBay. The person winning the auction was able to send Mehta to church one week for every $10 they spent. The book came about because of the experiment. It has some good information about what many atheists believe as well as some suggestions about how Christian churches can become more welcoming towards non-believers. It's not a must read, but it does have some good points. If you want an honest and well-written perspective about Christian churches from someone on the outside, then this is the book you want to read.

The second book I read is On Writing. It's a book about writing written by Stephen King. I've read a lot of books about writing and this is the best one I've ever written. If I ever taught a college writing course, we would use this book as the text.

As for movies, I really enjoyed both The Illusionist and Without Limits. The Illusionist is a period piece with Paul Giamatti and Ed Norton about an 18th Century magician who falls in love with the fiance of the Crown Prince. Solid acting and good writing. It's much lighter in tone than The Prestige and is basically a love story tied together with some mystery. Without Limits is a movie about runner Prefontaine. The movie was well-down and the cinematography of the Oregon locales are gorgeous.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


I remember. Do you?

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Explain This One To Me.

On Friday, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow announced his resignation. I'll admit that I had occasionally listened to Snow on his radio show before he became Press Secretary. I didn't always agree with what he had to say, but I found that overall he seemed to be more reasonable and respectful than most of the blow-hards on talk radio. My opinion of him has changed now. Snow said that the reason he was resigning was because, "because I ran out of money. A lot of people at home are saying, well, what do you mean, you make all this money. Well, you know what, I made more money when I was in my previous career. And I made the decision not to say to my wife and kids, you know, we've finally saved up all this money and done these things, and you're just going to have to give them away so Daddy can work at the White House." The White House Press Secretary position pays $168,000 a year and even though Snow gave up a very lucrative career in radio and television to come to the White House, his wife didn't have to give up her job.

Now, someone please explain this to me. You make $168,000 a year and that's not enough money to live on??? I know that Washington, D.C. is an expensive place to live, but come on. $168,000 a year??? For that amount of money I would be able to pay off ALL my debts, buy a car that I don't have to worry about breaking down, build my Dad the dreamhouse with the ground level swimming pool that he's always wanted, and still have enough money to live off for the rest of the year. And that would be on just that salary for one year. A second year earning that amount of money would allow me to save enough money that I would never have to worry about retirement.

Can you say, "disconnected from the people?" Good. I knew you could.