I keep subconsciously repressing any of my thoughts that feed the idea that something in my life is wrong. I try and force myself to believe that because I have God and light in and around me, nothing can be messed up. This is wrong. I know now that all is not right. I need to swallow this reality. God is good, perfect. My soul rests in peace because of the reality of his grace. A life lived without exotic travels, long hikes, and rockwall climbing can still be a great one. Truth be told, though, people are dying. Children go hungry. Men kill men. Animals drown. Girls are raped. I cannot take a step without experiencing grating physical pain. All is not well. Living in this reality would be nearly intolerable if hope for a fine future was not instilled in me. I am broken physically and spiritually. The world is broken in every way but God did not create mankind to watch us suffer. This is all wrong.
Thanks, praise be for love! Healing. Mercy. All that is wrong-everything-shall be made new and fresh. I long to breathe deeply of clean and free air that is so for everyone. I yearn to take a painless walk on the beach, to ride my bike cross-country. Shards of imperfection is today’s reality. Denial of this is futile. Immersion is imperative. Liberation is imminent. He will come. All shall be most well.
Through the love of Christ our Saviour, all will be well
Free and changeless is His favor, all is well
Ours is such a full salvation, all shall be well
The art in me has died. My creativity is shriveled and lacking. I am a water-well ran dry that earned its liquid title in ages past.
“Artist,” they say.
“Artist?” I ask, green eyes staring back at me inquisitively. How long have I looked to the past, craned my neck in the wrong direction? It has been too long since I have played at creator. Nevermind the quality (or lack thereof) of my past work-the good is that I did work! I made. I sculpted. I brought things in to existence. I was an artist, though a youthful and inexperienced one. Now it feels as though I ride on the coattails of my past. I claim the title, “artist”, but have I earned it today? This week? This year?
It is not fair of me to look back anymore. Artists do not do that. Artists plot and meditate on what is not, what might become. That which has potential. Life is mine to live regardless of whether or not I make things. I see things differently, and that is all that I really want. I may or may not be inspired again. My forward motion may pull me farther away from the painter, paster, color-worker that I was. So be it! Inspiration is gone from me here. Either I have drawn all there is from the beauty that is here or being here has drawn all the powers of creativity out of me. Empty I have not always been. I shall chase after abundant life, holding with tight fists to the belief that it will restore bracing, full creativity to me. Artistry, be mine. New lovely, flow out of my hands, my heart. Truth embellished, gush from my soul via tangible medium. Return to me, sweet outlets for overflowing emotions.
Another excerpt from A Severe Mercy (Sheldon Vanauken, p.85), written before he accepted Christ:
The best argument for Christianity is Christians: their joy, their certainty, their completeness. But the strongest argument against Christianity is also Christians-when they are self-righteous and smug in complacent consecration, when they are narrow and repressive, then Christianity dies a thousand deaths. But, though it is just to condemn some Christians for these things, perhaps, after all, it is not just, though very easy, to condemn Christianity itself for them. Indeed, there are impressive indications that the positive quality of joy is in Chirstianity-and possibly nowhere else. If that were certain, it would be proof of a very high order.
Oh how much there is for someone like myself to learn from unbelievers! Particularly about evangelism and accurately reflecting the face of God. Regardless of the spiritual state he was in when he wrote this, I call it a pep-talk! It brings fire to my heart-they do notice! Joy and certainty triumphs over doubt and sadness. Exhibiting the traits that God desires to see in me can catch the eye of, and maybe one day earn the oppurtunity to share the Gospel with the unbelievers around me.
This excerpt is a blessing!
There is a small portion in The Four Loves which C.S. Lewis (the author) devotes to talking about his culture-small town Great Britain, circa 1940-and the things that he likes about it. I flipped back through the book today and a page of notes fell out. I had written things that I like about my culture-U.S.A., circa now. Among those things were:
The hustle and bustle of sunny afternoons
How so many are ready and willing to invite other people into their spaces (cars, houses, rooms)
Indie films in Redbox
This got me to thinking. What effect does my culture have on me? Lewis talked about the warm fireplaces, foggy mornings, etc. What effect, I wonder, did those things have on him?
I have realized that it takes a conscious struggle to not think exactly the way my culture wants me to think. The entitlement monster has definetely become a part of me. I am hungry-there’s a burger king. I want a movie-there’s a redbox. I have to stop myself from thinking that any time I want something, regardless of whether or not I have the money for it, I should have it. Yes, I have plenty of money to buy that movie that was just released on DVD, but should I? Just because I can get it does not mean I should. These decisions are so hard because there is no line between what is OK to get and what is too much. Moderation seems to be the key word. Sure, eat when hungry. Rent a movie for the weekend. Just not every movie. Or too much food. Contrary to ideals of entitlement that are so rampant in my culture, I should not get all. I should just get some. The world is split about 6 billion ways, and I have no grounds for living in excess.
Bright with God’s spirit
Awed at that beauty
-You who are near it-
Unafraid at that footstep
Now that you hear it.
Reckless in pity
Eager in loving
-High in the City-
Wearing in beauty
Now from my chains I flee,
Fair is the way I see,
Heather and wind and you.
Dearling, O wait for me!
Evermore light and free,
Running uphill to you.
Beauty shines down on me,
Love and eternity,
Heather and wind and you.
Glory, O Christ to Thee!
Joy like a flame for me,
Running uphill with you.
-Both poems by Sheldon Vanauken, written to his wife Davy Vanauken, near the time of her death. Taken from A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Vanauken.
There are few things that excite me in this life. Vanauken has managed to tap into one here: holy simplicity.
Life-the simple life, the holy life-is all I ask of life.
Poverty is far-reaching and chronic. Not unlike depression, poverty is something that one comes back to over and over. Even those who want nothing more than to escape poverty (of any kind) continually find themselves back at square one having just the means to survive. Attempts to free oneself from either affliction (poverty or depression) tend to end in failure, with each try to alleviate the suffering making the next one more difficult. These afflictions-poverty, clinical depression-are so misunderstood that those who suffer them feel ashamed. They cover their trials, which subsequently making them harder to bear, leading to deeper isolation. To those who have never experienced poverty of any kind, or taken the time to truly consider it, there appears to be easily implemented solutions to these problems: they are just maladies with well-known cures. Those people are wrong. Poverty envelops an individual: body, mind, spirit. Both depression and chronic material poverty, when untreated, are consuming fires that remove happiness and destroy life.
People need to be more in tune with the sufferings of those around them. Instead of making hasty judgments, we need to truly read into situations. How many lives could have been saved had the truth about clinical depression been known? The hurting does not pass. It cannot be overcome as easily as those who have never suffered it assume. Material poverty is not always a result of laziness. Even when it is, once a person is trapped in cycles of public aid and incomplete education returning to more healthy trends is no small feat-often it is nearly impossible. As Bryant L. Myers says in his book, Walking With the Poor, “Poverty is the absence of shalom in all it’s meanings.” People who suffer these problems are not at peace.
Be a peacemaker. Listen to the things that people say. Tune into their emotions. Never jump to hasty conclusions about the situations of others. Care and care deeply.
There have been times when I have needed guidance, and screamed at God to give it.
There have been times when I have known exactly what I was supposed to do.
Also, there have been times when I have received good counsel and applied it, others when I have thrown it away.
In this short chapter of my life I have heard and received good counsel. I have done all that I know to do. I have gently told God that I am content, but I that I need answers. God knows that (though I have yet to understand the true meaning), my life is an offering to Him that I am ready and willing to pour out on whatever ground He sees fit. I struggle every day. My faith is weak. It is young and passionate yet ever impatient. I want adventure now. I want to run, I want to climb. I want to travel and I want to live for others. I want new, edgy places and experiences. I am a wandering soul. Often this wanderlust overcomes my love for God and I make idols out of the few things that I cannot have. He is merciful. Though my immature and over-anxious heart be goading me towards deep discontentment, His truth holds onto me, and I will not flounder.
He reminds me of how He has cared for me through all my days. He whispers His promises in my ears. All this so that in the moments of His silence, I will know in my heart that He means more to me than any tree I could have climbed, any child I could have fed and any prayer I ever offered.