Monday, August 27, 2007

Sick Dog

Sometimes I love Oprah. And other times she drives me freaking crazy.

May’s issue had a little segment called “How To Get 7 More Hours Into Your Day.”

It includes tips such as:
1) Don’t listen to the news first thing in the morning (“Depressing reports can distract you from efficiently accomplishing your a.m. routine”)
2) Make good use of waiting time (bring a book or magazine to the bank; don’t go to the doctor without taking something to do)
3) Think “Half-Time” (wear a wireless headset so you can water plants or pick up toys as you talk on the phone . . . “)

Are you kidding me? This segment should really be called “How to Never Rest and Not Be Engaged In the Real World.”

It has been a huge struggle for me to learn to relax – to not attempt to squeeze every single opportunity from every single moment. I have learned to cherish those moments waiting in line because they are a few minutes that I can breathe, ponder, pray. I have learned that my friends, family, and the people I speak to on the phone deserve my full attention, not my half attention because I am too busy dusting my Muppets figures. And don’t even get me started on the “don’t listen to the news” thing. Get real. “Life is too depressing, so just focus on your own problems. Otherwise it might take you longer to do your hair.” Perhaps we are supposed to take moments, to feel emotion when we hear that a bridge has collapsed or that a hurricane has seriously caused pain and disruption in other people’s lives. Maybe that is more important, and more human, than getting out of the door on time.

Seriously, Oprah. You disappoint me.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Nitty Gritty #2

Nitty Gritty #2 was meant to be an immediate sequel to Nitty Gritty #1. But then I had a hospital visit, which could not be ignored. So this is a continuation of Nitty Gritty 1.


I have tried about 3 different beginnings to this post, but don’t seem to know how to communicate what I would like to communicate to you. It is at this time where I lament not being a Star Trek Betazoid, because then you would know exactly what I mean without me needing to bumble through it.

But I’ll do my best.

Risk is important. This is the conclusion I have come to in the last few months. Risk is essential to a healthy faith. By Risk I don’t mean jumping off of buildings or eating week-old Chinese food. I mean, essentially, putting faith into action by doing something wild, crazy, and uncomfortably Godly.

Risk is, essentially, faith put into action. If faith is the reality of things not seen, faith in action means doing things according to the unseen. That means loving somebody who is gross, because you see the unseen beauty in him or her. That means talking to that crazy dude on the bus because you have faith that there is a huge amount of Christ in that person. That means making a crazy decision which makes entirely no sense to anybody but you and God – giving away your car to a family who needs it, letting a stranger move in with you simply because he or she needs a place to stay. Quitting your job so that you can have more time to feed your spiritual life.

I think one of the biggest things I miss about Waves of Grace Church is that there were a bunch of people who really, honestly believed that miracles could and did happen. That God works in ways which seemed totally looney. Together, we would support each other in listening to those crazy Godly urges to do crazy Godly things. And really cool amazing things happened. I really believe that it is because we put our faith into action, and took risks which seemed utterly insane to others . . . and to us!

There is nothing more terrifying, or more fun, than stepping out, doing something that you know doesn’t make sense, but you are following that inner yearning, the inner voice, to carry out God’s will. That’s golden. And that’s how I grow. It’s a great way to be challenged, to allow God to do wild and crazy and fun and beautiful things in my life and in the lives of other’s around me. I need to remember to not always play it safe. Some friends and I are considering moving into the north end. I must admit that in many ways that really scares me. I’m not sure if I will feel completely safe. It’s definitely a risk. But perhaps it is time for me to stand and discover my prejudices, to take a risk, to move into a new community, and have the opportunity for Christ to change me through that community, and that community through me. Amazing things could happen, and if the door opens I want to seize that opportunity. . I have no real valid reason for not wanting to live in the North End besides my own potential discomfort. Discomfort is one of the worst reasons that I can think of for not doing something.

I am not suggesting that we all jump into the bear’s cage at the Assiniboine Zoo or anything. That’s just dumb. But I do urge you to, when you have a wacky urging or opportunity, to really explore it. Is this something God is urging you to do? Does this have potential to create great character development for yourself or others? Don’t just shrug it off – this just might be your ark moment. I’m sure Noah questioned his sanity for awhile, as everyone else questioned him. But he took a risk – and great things happened.

Faith without works is dead. Likewise, faith without risk is irrelevant.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

musings from a hospital bed

Well, actually, it was a gurney.

Well, actually, I was barely coherent. So most of my musings were spent while recuperating the day after.

On Monday I was admitted to the emergency ward when I became violently ill. Everything turned out ok – it turned to be a severe migraine. But due to the severity of it, and possibility of it being some sort of brain aneurysm or tumor or something, they did lots of tests on me including a catscan and blood tests.

It was a very intense yet surreal experience, and here are some things that I have been thinking about connected to it.

1. It seems a very surreal and cosmic thing to watch a doctor stand in front of you holding an envelope which literally contains your future. The contents of that envelope could have been devastating. The reality that my life just might change quite dramatically was very real to me, yet I was somewhat calm about it. It seemed like a weird dream. Life is a journey. My journey, at least at this moment, includes an envelope with happy contents. Some would say I was lucky, but I think that luck demeans the significance of the situation to those individuals, some of whom I know, who walk out of rooms like that with different envelope contents. Who walk out of that room with a life entirely different than the one they came in with. I don’t feel lucky. I feel human. And I feel thankful.

2. During those moments, lying there, waiting for whatever was going to happen, I was somewhat relieved that I did not have a spouse or children who depend on me. With my guilt-prone personality, I was glad that I did not feel that I would need to deal with feeling that I left people whose lives depended on me. This is obviously a touchy situation, and has its own challenges and joys in different ways and at different times in life. Relief is not exactly normally what I feel when I think of my generally solitary life. But it seems strange that at that moment I was thankful to be alone with no dependents. I don’t know what this means. But it is very real to me, nonetheless.

3. Regardless of the implications of #2, I am blessed with amazing people. I was not alone since I became sick. Family, friends, parents. Even a baby offered me great comfort and love. I am often overwhelmed and quizzical about my number of facebook friends. I don’t quite get it – I assume it has much to do with my sparkling manic-depressive personality. But there are wonderful people in my life who I know will stick by me like glue through bad times . . . and good times. And that is golden. I randomly was listening to this healing CD on my way to West Hawk Lake this weekend, and on it the guy said “If you are healthy, you might not have everything. But if you are sick, and you have somebody who cares for you, then you have everything.” That’s real to me, too. Relationships are so much of what this life is about. Relationships with each other, relationship with God. I am more and more convinced that relationships are what life REALLY is about. And I think I’ve got lots of them. Lots of quality ones, too. And I feel blessed with that.

My body is tired. And my hand still hurts from having the IV in it. But otherwise I feel good. And a bit more focused on what matters. And a bit more quizzical about this whole experience. And a bit more frightened of what set this off. But overall I feel blessed – about my life, about my friends and family.

Ummm…that’s all.

Monday, August 06, 2007

enough of pictures; back to the nitty gritty

"Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." -Heb 11:1

To be perfectly honest, the colossal implications of a "saving" faith has never quite sat right with me. Not that I deny the existence of it - I find the concept of faith to be a very beautiful, very inspiring thing. What really has always seemed strange to me is that Faith seems to take precedence over the incredible work and power of Christ.

Faith is a powerful thing, and I have been coming to realize this in the last few years. What really freaks me out is that we are saved through faith in Christ, not merely through the work of Christ himself. This is a powerful distinction. As if the work of Christ on the cross wasn't enough, there is something extra which is needed. It is incredible to me that Christ carried out the ultimate sacrifice - that thousands of years of history accumulated into a single moment in time which is so significant for me and for everybody else that I know, that there was such a master plan in the works being so carefully unfolded, that this great, amazing thing happened - death was conquered, my redemption and the redemption of countless others was carried out. And that, even though all of this incredible mind-blowing things happened, they really add up to nothing if I choose not to believe in it.

Why does the work of Christ become nullified in my life only because I choose not to believe in it?*

It is something that I have been pondering for awhile. I don't have many good answers. But my pondering on this subject has opened up a new beauty and appreciation which I have for the subject of and implications of faith.

Faith is such a powerful thing. On numerous occassions, Jesus credits his ability to perform miracles to the faith of the individal (Luke 7:50, Luke 17:19, etc.). It blows me away that Christ becomes literally powerless in situations due to the lack of faith of those around him (Mark 6:5). It seems wrong that such a small insignificant detail would disarm the Son of God.

But these verses show that something significant and somewhat unseen is happening here. There is something very significant and very powerful about faith. Faith can move mountains (Matthew 17:20). Faith can heal (Matthew 9:22). And, perhaps most importantly, faith can save (Luke 7:50).

That's cool. But I still don't get it. :-)

*these two sentences are, obviously, very simplified statements whose ramifications could be argued against very intelligently. "Nullify" could be considered a bit erronnous and dramatic. But, for the sake of simplicity and ease-of-reading, I have worded it this way in order to exemplify my main point - the power of the cross is at least significantly disabled in a context where faith is absent.