Thursday, November 24, 2011

I am thankful until the end.

Love is a funny thing.  So is a broken heart.  And I really do believe that the two mixed together makes one of the most beautiful creations ever known to man.  Because I think when we learn what love is and how to love and then we have our hearts broken, we get a small taste of what Jesus feels when He looks upon us.  The way He felt so deeply towards us that He stepped down from the throne of the Universe to become the curse that would kill our curse.  The way He writhes in agony over His children walking away from Him to a Lover much less wild.  Love and a broken heart may together be the most divine encounter in the entire world.  When love and a broken heart mix, changing the world follows.  Really, just look at what Jesus did and what Paul and Peter did and what Martin Luther did and Dietrich Bonheoffer and MLK and Mother Teresa and Bill Bright.
And as I look at love and a broken heart I think that maybe I’ll always be stuck in this place of being between how the world is and how it should be.  A couple years ago I realized that I was camped out there, that my heart found a temporary home in that great chasm shortly after I gave my life to Jesus.  I found out that life is not only short but it also both beautiful and horrifying in the same breath.  I saw the dream of Eden and longed for it.  But my friends, we are a far way from Eden.
I don’t really know why I thought I would move on from that place once I walked further into the mountains with Jesus making my feet harder with every step.  I’m not sure why I made myself believe that this time of being on my knees would be my last time.  Did Paul ever think that?  Surely not.  So why would I?  Whatever the reason was, it’s gone now.  And until I see Jesus face to face, I’m going to be here in this place where I can see clearly how the world is and how it should be.
This last weekend a football player was found dead in his dorm room.  His roommate saw him playing videogames early Sunday morning and came back in an hour later to find him unresponsive and when they took him to the hospital, he died.  Dead.  Just like that.   An enlarged heart. That quick. 
Sunday night I was at a church service where a leader of FCA got up and she rallied us and told us that this is where the body of Christ came into play.  That we would love Garrett’s family with prayers and support and that this family would come together to grow and to endure.  And then we prayed and we prayed that Jesus would be glorified in the midst of tragedy.  Then I came back to my dorm later that night only to find that Westboro Baptist Church was planning on protesting his funeral.  Automatically I was welcomed back into the chasm and overwhelmed with a rush of emotion.  Broken for Garrett’s death and broken for the depravity of man.
            I wish that all of these questions I have about justice could be answered quickly and easily.  I wish that we didn’t have to sit around and wonder why Jesus lets His name be trampled upon so much.  But then just as I begin to judge the people of Westboro I come to a reality that leads me to my knees yet again.  If He didn’t, then I would have been done for a long time ago.  Aren’t I just as sinful and deceived?  Didn’t I put Jesus to death as well?  Aren’t I Judas too?
            I don’t understand why the world is how it is and sometimes I let sorrow attack me into believing I need to know why.  But it all comes down to the question of if I truly and wholly believe that God is sovereign.  And I do.  Though I may sometimes mutter that fact through gritted teeth and with clenched fists, it still doesn’t change that the Living God cares for us.  He is sovereign.  I believe that with everything I am.
            My heart is heavy on this Thanksgiving day.  But although it is heavy I have tasted a small portion of what it is like to love with a broken heart and for that, I give thanks.  Jesus is alive and hope breathes.  I am thankful until the end.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Who are you again?

For some reason, very unknown to me, I have the ability to remember things.  Most things.  I can remember people who I haven’t seen since first grade in an instant and where I read a certain quote in a book, right down to the line and the page.  I don’t know why.  I usually don’t ask questions about that.  I seem to ask questions just about everything else in life except for why I can remember things, people in particular. 
            But with that memory, it also brings up some awkward moments.  I guess the word awkward maybe too strong, but nonetheless, I use it here.  There are moments where I’ll recognize someone and say hello and they obviously don’t remember me.  So then I have to try and explain to them how we know each other.  “Oh you know, we were in pre-school together!  We always played near the fence and pretended the War-head wrappers on the ground were real witches!” or “Don’t you remember fourth grade in Mr. Whitlow’s class?  We read Series of Unfortunate Events together!”  Often times they truly don’t remember me but sometimes I can see it in the way they flash they eyes towards my face, I know they know me.  I can see it and for the life of me I just don’t know why they claim ignorance. 
            The fact that people pretend to not know other people fascinates me.  For years I have had trouble understand why someone would do that.  Pride?  Embarrassment?  The fear of being too creepy?  I just don’t understand. 
            But recently I ran into a person who I hadn’t seen in a very long time and they greeted me in the way I tend to greet others.  They were excited and asked me if I remembered them and to my own surprise I said no.  But the thing is, I did remember them.  But I still said no?  Why would I have done that?  Why would I have done exactly what I hated others doing?
            Maybe I did that for the same reason I turn my eyes away when someone who has been crying makes eye contact with me.  Or maybe I did that for the same reason that I always lie and tell others I threw up the first time I ever had sushi. 
            The more I look into myself and my motives for why I do certain things, I come to a tall and wide brick wall plastered with red.  There are giant stop signs on the wall and if I’m not mistaken, the red streaks are blood, not paint.  But whose blood?  My blood?  Their blood?  His blood?  I can never really be sure. 
            Maybe I pretended not to know that person because some days I pretend to not even know the very person who formed me inside my mother’s womb.
Maybe it’s just because I pretend to know myself. 

“For I do no understand my own actions.  For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”  Romans 7:15

Thursday, November 10, 2011


I recently finished reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck and I'm pretty sure this is the first book that I have ever read that in turn, actually read me.  I went through so many emotions reading it because it lays out humanity so clearly in the 600 pages of love, hate, anger, laughter, tears, and rage.  I almost feel like I have a lost a close friend now that I'm not in the middle of the novel waiting with increased anticipation on the next big twist in the story.  And as I've been chewing on the book the last couple of days, a short and simple poem started to form and I decided there would be no better way to share my heart about the book than by sharing this poem.  It's the very best way I know how to express the anguish and triumph my soul experienced and I hope that it resonates with an ability beyond words how immaculate the miracle of choice truly is.

Life is a deep, beautiful, and complex box
Only partially full with the world
Leaving so many questions to be answered
And so many answers to be questioned

Each of us are adding ourselves
To the box and let it be known
Without choice, we are all tragedies

Greatness is near, taunting our every breath
Maybe we can live with glory
Instead of just being poison-filled corpses

Our forefathers and beyond
Went their own way
But we can decide to go West
When they are all being herded East

Humanity writhes in the agony of decision
Is written in blood on every noose
That is tied around every man’s neck from birth
“thou mayest” the blood cries
And oh, hallelujah, that they can choose to take it off
But only they can choose

Perhaps poetry is not just for the weak
But instead for all of mankind
For the fantastic and the magnificent
The beautiful and the mysterious
For the lonely but the satisfied
The broken but the full
For the rejected but the authentic
The sick but the hopeful

What if the sky is closer than we first believed?

Laughing and crying
Running and crawling
Living and dying
We are climbing our ladders to the stars

And I am led to believe
That time is never better spent
Than when learning to dance.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

"I want a purple egg."

         Last night I was riding with some friends to go bowling and it was raining. The rain was just hard enough, but just light enough to leave a really shiny glint on the road, in turn making it incredibly hard to see.  I usually try to steer away from any morbid thoughts but every now and again, I let my mind go there.  So I thought the simple thought, “If I were to be in a car wreck and die right now, would I have changed anything?”  My thoughts went deeper to the idea of my funeral.  Who would be there? Would it matter?  Would people be sad?  Would people be joyful?  Would people be singing or dancing or sitting on pews wallowing inside of themselves with tears of sorrow and pain? Would people remember me for my words or my actions?  Or possibly just the fact that I was young when I died and for some reason that means that a form of injustice took place and people are now obligated to mourn for my death?  And then I went to the realm of thinking about how would it be for me.  Here I am a kid learning and growing each day and to the world I’m at my prime, right?  Seeing what it means to live and forming my steps.  But I thought about if I were to die at that moment, what it would be like to be in Heaven the next.  I don’t really think about that too much.  But what if it’s just an immediate switch?  No time lapses between my soul leaving my body here and being in front of Desire.  What would that be like?  To be embraced by Eternity and what would the tears feel like as they rolled down my cheeks onto the warm arms of my Savior as He held me close to His true and beating heart.  And then the truth of Eternity kicked my chest in as we continued to drive down the interstate in the rain.  Eternity.  My soul.  Your soul.  We’ll be somewhere, doing something.  And I started to hurt because I thought about the seven billion souls that made up the human race and where we would all spend Eternity. 
            The other day I was in the library reading, which I seem to be doing this a ton these days.  I was reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck.  I have been reading this book for about three weeks now and I’m starting to get nervous because the pages in my left hand are beginning to be thicker than the amount of pages in my right.  This book has read me more than I have read it, if that’s not too cliché to say here.  The book paints such an accurate picture of humanity; of evil and good, heartache and love and sorrow and joy and pain and laughter and brutal honesty and brutal betrayal.  I have gone through a wide range of emotions during this book, cried and laughed at the same time and made an absolute fool of myself in public because I couldn’t help but gasp out loud as that cursed shotgun went off.  Maybe you could say that I’ve learned how to dance while reading this book.  But there was one in particular day when I was packing up shop and saw a man sitting reclined in a chair reading with a look of pure ecstasy on his face.  I observed him for a moment and knew that he was learning to dance, with whatever book he was reading as his partner.  I don’t know what it was about that man, but a deep longing for the human soul arose in my chest.  I am madly in love with people.  Their souls and their beauty and their eternal worth.  I firmly believe each of us spend Eternity someplace and I long with a desire that burns me to physically hurt for every one to spend Eternity in Glory.  I feel pain when I see others experience pain and is it too far too say, taste death when others do?  Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.  There’s a good chance I am, I do that a fair amount. 
            But what I know for a fact is that people matter.  As Steinbeck says through the words of his beautiful character, Lee, “I feel that a man is a very important thing- maybe more important than a star.  This is not a theology.  I have no bent towards gods.  But I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul.  It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe.  It is always attacked and never destroyed- because “Thou Mayest.”  Thou mayest comes from a words called, timshel and this word has revolutionized my life.   It is Hebrew and used in Geneses 4.  It tells the story of mankind and how we have a choice whether or not to follow in the sin of our fathers.  A choice whether to be great, to live, to dance.  A choice whether to follow and know Jesus, life, hate, fullness, emptiness, love. 
We choose.  And I think everyone spends Eternity someplace and my heart yearns for us all to spend it together.
There is a scene in East of Eden, maybe the most profound piece of literature I have ever read where Dessie comes back to her childhood home.  She has gone through tragedy and has lost the vigor to live.  The scene tells of her waking up in her house and going through all of the memories of her life and the things that made her who she was.  She has come home to stay with her brother, Tom, who has also lost vigor.  But when she gets downstairs and see him, she realizes that he has chosen to look past pain and start again.  And she sees with unblinded eyes that she can choose to live and not be the same, not to let sorrow control her thoughts and dictate her steps.  Tom asks her what kind of egg she’d like and she replied, “I want a purple egg.”  Symbolizing her choice to live differently.  Symbolizing her choice to choose her destiny.
I sometimes wonder, and when I say sometimes I mean everyday, what it would be like if we all chose to love people.  To acknowledge each other’s incredible worth and act upon that worth.  And now my heart cries, what would it look like if we all wanted purple eggs?
I know I’m not alone in this.  Out of the other seven billion people that surround this planet, at least a couple of them must desire a purple egg every now and again.
By the way, I hope that there is dancing at my funeral.  Lots and lots of dancing.