20110822

Welcome to the End

"For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths."  - 2 Timothy 4:3-4 (ESV)

20110727

En Passant

I feel it. It hangs around like an extrovert that just won’t shut up or take a hint. It creeps along my spine, pauses to play with my stomach, then does another haunting lap on my vertebrae. It makes my heart moan, not a shriek of pain or a cry of sadness, but a groan to be satiated. It infuses me with an intense desire to pace, to wear away the floor till I fall through. But I can only sit.

It unleashes a torrent of adrenaline. This is not a natural reaction, but a conditioned response. My senses are heightened. Alert, I strain to look for things I can see, listen for things I can’t hear, sniff for things I can’t smell, reach for things I can’t touch. I’m on pins and needles, waiting... waiting... waiting... It’s that old familiar feeling with whom I truly do have a love/hate relationship. It’s the metaphorical horn, ringing out with a clarion call: “Awake, suit up, lock ’n load, you’ve got a fight on your hands.”

Sometimes it’s followed by a knock on the door. Sometimes it’s a phone call, or an email, or a Facebook status, or a random conversation. It can reveal itself as a word, or a look, or a sigh, or a tear. Maybe it’s someone I know, someone I don’t, or someone I thought I did. It could have emotional roots, or psychological roots, or even demonic roots, but it’s always spiritual. It can lead to a thoughtful dialogue on a garden bench, a candid conversation at Starbucks, a heart-to-heart kneeling on a dorm room floor, or a frantic text fest. And regardless of whatever I perceive the outcome to be, it’s utterly exhausting. War always is, after all.

But, on nights like tonight, sometimes nothing noticeable happens. So I do what I can: I pray. I pray for family, friends, futures; cities, countries, cultures; laymen, leaders, life-change. Anything and everything that crosses my mind, great or small. It still remains, though, so I continue to wait. It takes all the patience I can muster. Like a soldier geared up on the flight line waiting for the go-code, I yearn for my Commander to pull the trigger.

Maybe He will. Maybe He won’t.

So I continue to wait. Maybe it will pass after a few minutes, or hours, or days. Maybe there will be an explanation forthcoming later, maybe not. Maybe it just wants to be expressed through these words. I don’t know. What I do know, however, is that waiting is the hardest part. It’s tempting to try to solve it myself, to conjure up man-made solutions to problems of my own imagining. It’s tempting to try to drown it out, to distract myself with a book, or a movie, or a video game. But patience is the only proper course of action. I refuse to tuck it away in the recesses of my heart and mind. I refuse to ignore it. Come what may, I will wait on the Lord.

Despite the difficulties it causes, it’s worth it. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s what gives all the drab vicissitudes of my life meaning. It’s what I was made for; it is my purpose. As much as part of me might want to call it a curse, it is nonetheless my gift. It thins the veil, giving me a greater sense of the ripples and currents that flow all about us, just beneath the surface of everything we know and experience empirically. It gives direction and clarity to my thoughts in times of confusion. In the moments of need it prompts me with thoughts, words, and actions that I could never conjure up on my own.

It is discernment.

Right now I sense that God is making a move. Maybe it involves me. Maybe not. How should I know? I’m just one of the pieces on the board, and for all I know I’m just a lowly pawn. But in the hands of a Grandmaster, even a pawn can be a game-changer. So even though I feel all the pieces moving around me, I’ll wait till He calls my number. He’s the Grandmaster, after all. So I wait...

Did I mention waiting is the hard part?

20110126

Hindsight

The recent passing of my fiancĂ©e's great-grandfather and my own grandfather, when combined with a variety of other events that have crossed path with my life of late, all have left me in a brooding mood for quite some time. While I am thankful that both members of our families have transitioned into eternity with their Lord, it has been a sharp reminder of the twisted nature of the world. Sickness, pain, death, they're everywhere. I watch people I love hurting for a variety of different reasons and different circumstances. My other home country is ensnared in partially violent political turmoil yet again. Our world is a messed up place.

And it's all because of a single decision in a garden many thousands of years ago.

"Well," one might think, "hindsight is 20-20." Indeed it is. If Adam and Eve could have seen the world the way it is as a result of their choice, I'm sure it would have greatly changed the dynamics of their decision making paradigm. People are murdering other people left and right. Marriages are disintegrating; families are falling apart. Millions starve while countless others bask in opulence. Depravity, it seems, knows no bounds.

Of course this is somewhat comfortable to talk about in broad strokes, but dare we discuss the havoc our own depravity wreaks? We are all fallen, but we also fall on our own. Do we have the courage to look back at our own wake of destruction? Even when we have the gumption to own our wrongdoings, we like to hastily remind anyone who may be listening that hindsight is 20-20. Of course it is; as if that's an excuse!

But that's just it: we like to think it is. We imagine that our mistakes are excusable because we "never" would have made them if we could have seen where they would lead. Some of us even adopt a hindsight mentality, claiming to be the sort that has to "learn the hard way." So often it simply boils down to the fact that we do what we want to do and don't have the slightest intention of thinking about the consequences. Why Should we? Hindsight is 20-20.

That, however, is precisely the opposite of the life we are called to live in Christ. Forsaking hindsight and practicing foresight, we are to forget what is behind and press onwards towards the prize with our eyes fixed on the goal ahead of us. Unrepentant sinners are to look ahead to the judgment and cast themselves on Christ in light of what is to come. There is no place for living life solely focused on what is behind us. You can't drive with your eyes only on the rear view mirror.

I'm not saying that history has no value, or that we cannot learn from our mistakes. All I'm saying is that an "act now, think later" attitude only leads to one place. After all...

In hell, hindsight is 20-20.