There’s a passage in Ann Voskamp’s book be the gift that says “you can be glued to a screen or glued to your schedule or glued to your stuff- and maybe that’s just a bit of lost living. You can be a slave to getting ahead, a slave to the clock, a slave to convenience, a slave to some ill-advised American dream- and maybe that’s a lot of lost living.”
It’s easy to become absorbed in our own life and our own mess. It’s easy to have your world revolve around convenience, screens, and success. Not only is it easy for these things to happen, but it’s expected of us. Take facebook for example: we spend hours scrolling through our newsfeed reading complaints about the latest political issue and one upping people from high school that we barely care about. Why? Because it’s convenient. You could call that friend you miss or you could like their post announcing that they’re having a baby. Liking the post is quicker and more convenient, so oftentimes that is done rather than actually showing another person that you care about them.
Being engrossed in our screens, schedules, and success is ingrained in us to the extent that sometimes we think about reaching out to someone to show that we care about them, but then we don’t, because we’re afraid of it not being received well. How shameful it is that we don’t show others that we care about them, because it’s inconvenient. How shameful it is that we oftentimes are so absorbed in what is going on with ourselves that we don’t stop to listen to another soul that is in desperate despair. Instead we ignore them or let them gloss over their pain. The book of James tells us that faith without works is dead. That’s not to say that works are our source of salvation, rather if we have the Holy Spirit in us we will be prompted to act and show other people that we care about them.
Is it wrong to have a phone or a schedule or success? No, but realize that if you live your life trying to have some arbitrary picture perfect life, you’ll always be one step behind and wanting something else. Yes, there is quite a bit of value in taking care of yourself so that you can serve others well. However, the main focus of our lives should be loving God and loving others and that just does not line up with today’s American dream. We are not called to convenience; we are called to love one another. When you are prompted to show someone that you care about them, actually do it.
30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Let the morning bring them word of Your unfailing love, may they put their trust in You. Show them the way they should go; may they entrust their life to you.
Give them wisdom about their future and trust in Your plan.
Give them a spirit that hungers and thirst for Your presence and righteousness.
Give them humility to ask for help where they need it.
Give them Godly counsel in the form of friends, family, and strangers who love You.
Give them the wisdom to keep their priorities in an order that is most pleasing to you Lord.
Thank you for their kind spirit.
Thank you for how You have worked and are working in their life.
You are wonderful Lord. I love You.
In Your holy name, amen.
Bible verses referenced in this prayer were Matthew 5:6 and Psalm 143:8
“All I can think of right now is how much braver you are than me” he said as part of the kindest rejection text anyone has ever received after asking someone out. Brave, it’s a label I have been given multiple times over the past few years. I can’t say that I always feel brave, but I think that’s a part of bravery, doing something even though I’m afraid. There’s a glorious freedom that comes in not letting fears dictate the decisions I make. However, this is not a bravery that I can take credit for; this is a bravery that comes from trust in Christ.
I am reminded of 2 Timothy 1:7 “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” When we are acting based upon trust in God and His plan our actions are full of power, love, and self-control. Frankly, I was able to see this play out beautifully in asking that guy out. It took an insane amount of trust to press the send button on a text that said “do you want to go on a date”. When I pressed the send button on that text I was giving up control of the situation in the form of giving up the ability to protect my precious feelings from rejection. However, in giving up that ability to protect myself I was able to receive the blessed gift of peace even in the midst rejection.
I would be lying if I said I was immediately fine. There were moments sprinkled throughout the next day or two where I was sad, because no one likes to be rejected. However, the even stronger thing that I walked away from that situation with was a sense of peace not because I had done something brave, but because I had trusted God. If you want to be brave trust God. If you want to have a spirit of power, love, and self-control trust God. Indeed, it is a journey. Indeed, it is easier said than done. However, I have found in my rather limited twenty-two years that I have done things I would have never dreamed of both big and small, because I trusted in God. Yes, compared to what I have done and what I will do this is one of the smaller brave things that I have done, but I found beauty and peace in taking a step of faith even though I did not see where that step would ultimately take me. No, it did not take me where I wanted it to, but it took me where God had planned for it to, which is far better than any plan I could make.
Every so often I find myself plagued with a night of insomnia. I want to sleep, but for no particular reason, I simply can’t. This lack of ability to sleep some nights used to drive me crazy, but I have learned to love experiencing a world that is asleep.
When the World is Asleep
There’s a beautiful peace in the world when it is asleep
The silence envelopes me and finally there is time to just think
See when the world is awake there are distractions and noises galore
But when it is asleep the craziness is no more
Oh yes dear friend it is true.
There is a beautiful peace in the world when it is asleep.
It is October which means there are many marching bands right in the middle of their competitive season. While I personally was not in marching band I am certainly no stranger to the sport due to the fact that many of my close friends were in marching band in high school. This past Thursday I found myself sitting on a blacktop observing a rehearsal, and I was inspired to write this poetic thing. This one is for my friends who love marching band.
This Blessed Blacktop
There’s a certain peace within me as I am sitting on this blessed blacktop
Hormonal high schoolers giving their all to a mesmerizing movement of music
Shuffling their feet and playing their tune
The sun sets painting the sky hues of gold, pink, and blue
Adult voluteers scurrying to do their part
There is an undeniable beauty in the dedication and teamwork within their hearts
Truly all I can do is sit here and thank God for evenings like these that have a somehow perfect breeze.
My friend was teaching a class of three year olds a couple of months ago. One of these children was a little boy who had a special friend in one of the little girls in the class. One night when he was desperately wanting to be with her he asked my friend if he could be with her and my friend said “no”. His quite dramatic yet relatable reply was “But I NEED her! I NEEEEEEED her!” As ridiculous as a three year old NEEDING another three year old sounds we often do the exact same thing. We pick something that we feel we NEED, and when we do not receive it we get angry and frustrated with God.
This topic of desperately wanting something to the extent that we feel we NEED it makes me think of Hannah, the mother of the Old Testament Prophet Samuel. She was barren and probably felt like she NEEDED a child, especially since she was being taunted and provoked by her husband’s other wife. However, in the midst of grief and confusion as to why she was not allowed to have this beautiful thing, she took her pain and confusion to God. 1 Samuel 1:10-14 finds Hannah praying so deeply and intensely that the priest Eli thought that she was drunk, but she wasn’t. She was taking her confusion, grief, and pain to God. She was vowing that if she were blessed with a child she would give it right back to God for His service. What a beautiful example of how to treat things that we feel like we NEED.
In reality the concept of giving something back to God if we are blessed enough to receive it in the first place is much easier said than done. Hannah shows a profound humility and trust when she gives up the child that she has longed for, hoped for, prayed for. However, the Lord blessed her trust and he used that child to further his kingdom in ways that Hannah likely could not have imagined in her wildest dreams. The things that we desire deeply for are not necessarily bad things. Wanting to be a parent is a beautiful thing. Wanting to be married is a beautiful thing. Wanting to get an education is a beautiful thing. However, those beautiful God given desires become ugly when we hope in those things rather than for those things. As hard as it is to admit, when we act as though we need something more than we need God we look as ridiculous as a three year old NEEDING another three year old. (and we are definitely not as cute)
Spiritual warfare is something that cannot be seen in the way of physical swords and helmets, but is still quite real. I oftentimes find that when I am most susceptible to an attack is when my life is going well. Take where I am currently for example; I am doing well. Even within this though I find myself losing interest in spending time with God. It seems that we train our minds to go to God when we are in trouble, which is absolutely what we should do, but in times of joy and abundance we become prideful and act as though we can handle what life has to offer us by ourselves. In these moments of peace we become comfortable and forget that we are in a war; sometimes we even lay down our spiritual armor (if you want to know more about the armor of God go to Ephesians 6:10-20) We forget that simple moments can have a profound impact on the course of someone’s life. Something that I have been reminded of multiple times in the past few weeks is that people are watching and potentially being affected by how we live. It’s interesting, because I know this to be true, I have seen the everyday actions of someone in my life affect me in a profound way, when they probably had no idea, but I still manage to forget that the same thing is likely happening with me. Romans 12:1-2 talks about offering our bodies as living sacrifices by not conforming to this world and living a life of holiness. Those verses are a beautiful reminder to live in a way that is pleasing to God all of the time. It is a reminder that this is not something that we are capable of on our own, so we must receive strength from God at all times. We are in a constant state of spiritual warfare whether we want to acknowledge that or not, so we would be foolish to lay down our armor and act as though we are capable of handling life on our own and yet sometimes we do.
One of my favorite quotes is something that Martin Luther King Jr. said, it’s “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
There have been a couple of things on my mind the past week, and I have to say the more that I think about them the more I realize how connected they are. About a week ago I was thinking about the political climate and how prone people are to say horrible things about another person because they do not agree with their beliefs. That in itself is sad enough, but what is even more saddening to me is the fact that this attitude is creeping into the church. It’s this underlying sour attitude that we carry because Joe thinks this person is qualified to do this political job and Jane thinks a controversial issue is not a big deal. This sour attitude towards others based on their having different beliefs that truly have nothing to do with salvation or how you are living your life is not loving others and seeing them as Christ sees them.
This brings me to the second thing I have been thinking about this week. I have seen a theme of valuing others, seeing them as Christ sees them, and treating them accordingly over and over again recently. The most unique way I have seen this is in the Sunday school lesson I taught this past Sunday. It was based around this theme, but it was about the story of David and Bathsheba. Initially I was quite confused, as I studied though I began to understand it as a cautionary tale. David was so focused on himself, his pleasures, and covering up his sins he was willing to do horrendous things to the people around him. When we get so caught up in how we feel, justifying our sins, and overall being self-centered we are not thinking of those around us. We are likely not seeing others the way that Christ sees them.
Back to the story of David and Bathsheba; my favorite part of this story is God’s grace. David did things that others would find horrendous and unforgivable, but God forgave him. God valued him; God loved him even though and he had messed up in a huge way. God does this for us too, so as we think of the people who get under our skin or we completely disagree with for whatever reason we must remember that they are beloved by Our Heavenly Father. Christ came for them too; Christ sees so much value in them too. This is our example of how to treat others. The Bible calls us to love others (if you want more information on what that looks like see 1 Corinthians 13). That is how we drive out hate; that is the light that we have that drives out darkness. “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that”.