Archive for My reflections
After ordering a small red burrito at Del Taco Jake said to me “so Charles, what do you want to do with your life?” I wasn’t prepared for such a question to usher in the New Year especially at 1:30 AM and with a truck full of friends. I can’t remember my response but I’m almost certain that I fumbled through my words. It was a hard question from a friend that I deeply admire but I know his intentions were good and that he was genuinely curious. There are times that I simply don’t know the answer to such a question. As I sat in the passenger seat of my truck (let’s be honest it was a knob creek night) I thought about this question and I pondered it further when he asked Matt the same thing. My mind was going crazy trying to figure it out and the fact that I had four of my closest friends in the truck with me did not add to any clarity. I tried to focus in on the question but I was too distracted by Paul laughing at Derek while he repeatedly poked Jake in the ribcage. Despite these distractions I managed to find more, my world greatest lover button pinned on my passenger side sun visor lightened my spirits and gave much needed humor to my perplexed state. I can’t remember the following conversation to Jake’s question but I can remember it rapidly digressed to comments like “what in the hell is taking so long?” and “who gave you the worlds greatest lover button?” After the inevitability of natures call Jake got out of the truck to go into Del Taco. (Thanks to Matt’s extremely persuasive and persistent argument that we could still go into Del Taco at that hour.) Filled with the New Years spirit Jake wished a “Happy New Year” to the car in front of us and on the way back he politely helped the Del Taco employee hand over a large drink to an apparently extremely thirsty customer. After receiving our long anticipated quasi-mexican food we drove back to Derek’s house and continued celebrating the New Year.
I’ve given some thought to Jake’s question and I’ve come up with some conclusions. I simply don’t know what is going to happen, I can’t say when I’m 30 I’m going to do this or be that. All I know it that I deeply want to understand what it is to love the way Christ has called you and me to love. I want to walk with Him every day and take upon His yoke. I don’t know if I’m going to stand on the top of Mount Sulimon and hear the minarets bellow out the call to prayer or if I’m going to live a simplistic life in the suburbs of Los Angeles. I don’t know if my children will walk with the Lord or if I’ll even have children at all. I do know that I’ll still attend seminary because I deeply believe that God has called me into ministry at some point (although I don’t know what that is going to look like). I know that probably for the first time in my life I’m happy with who I am and that I cannot be anyone else but myself no matter how good or bad it may seem at times. I know that God deeply loves me and has proven Himself to be faithful over and over again despite my constant lack of. I guess for me the question isn’t what do I want to do with my life but it’s who do I want to be. I want to be deeply in love with Christ because He is deeply in love with me. I want to understand the beauty of His mystery and be the man he has called me to be. It has been an interesting 2007 and I have learned some hard truths and dealt with some harsh realities. Much like that old tree in Yosemite I have weathered cold winter storms and my roots have pressed deeper into the fertile ground of Christ’s love. And much like that same tree I will wait for the oncoming spring and celebrate a new beginning and when the winter storms come again I will look back and say “it was a good year.”
I feel like a fool! A man of ignorance trying to understand what is seemingly incomprehensible. I’m riddled with insecurity, or is it just fear? I’m starting to believe that I’ve asked God for the impossible, or have I’ve asked God for something I cannot endure? The prayer “teach me how to love” should have never been uttered from my lips. I should have kept silent and simply lived in my own futility. My soul has been broken and torn into little pieces that have been scattered by the wind. This journey has been dark at times, but God has provided the light. My soul has been crushed, but the potter’s hands have begun to build it up again. It was a prayer of naivety and completely filled with desperation. I feel like a fool for asking such things, I feel weak and unable to learn the lesson, but yet God keeps trying to teach me. Sometimes I just want to stop and not love, I want to stay selfish and to harden my heart so that I cannot feel pain. I now realize that I’m such a frail man. As I humbly go before God I can only ask him one thing… “Teach me how to love”.
With no regard toward man or industry the pine trees sway back and forth in nature’s perfect rhythm,
Their needles gracefully fall on the fertile ground covering it like manna from the heavens.
The cool wind rushes through the canopy singing of God’s grace and harmony.
Halted by the thunderous sound of falling water, I find stillness and serenity.
Gnarled tree roots reach deep into the ground with anticipation of weathering the oncoming storm,
My hope blooms with every passing moment.
The warmth of the fire delights my flesh, but contentment delights my heart.
Breathtaking vistas humbly remind me of grace, love, redemption and freedom,
While the forging of new relationships gives light into the dark places within.
Illuminated by the rising moon our faces reflect the sovereignty of God.
It is here that I come broken before my maker…just as I am,
And it is here that I begin to understand…I am loved.
I can still remember that warm summer day in my brother’s garden. I remember the bright sun shinning down on us and the cool from the shade that the trees provided. I remember listening to the birds sing in perfect harmony with each other as they flew from tree to tree. I could feel the vast acres of green grass and tall old oaks call my name; nature’s simplistic yet complex beauty was calling me to rest. I can still taste the sweetness of the fresh raspberries we picked from the bush. I can still feel the communion with my brother as we picked the raspberries and tried not to smash the fragile fruit that had been warmed by the summer sun. I know that we both thought the same thing as the raspberries just seemed to melt in our mouths…the moment seemed perfect, it seemed too good to be true. As I look back I can see God’s perfect grace filling our hearts and the beauty of His love running through our veins. We were so undeserving of that moment and yet completely blessed by it.
As I walked from one garden plot to the next, I ran into a man named Percy. Percy lived in Philadelphia all of his live and had been gardening in the same spot far before my existence. There was some hesitance on my part as he invited me in to “take a look”, but I naturally couldn’t resist. I was amazed at his perfectly formed rows of dirt and how the string that was held up by two sticks did not deviate too far to the left or the right. Percy’s garden put all the other gardens to same…Percy meant business. As I stood and quietly watched Percy carefully plant his garden, I could tell that every action he took was done out of love. His wrinkled brown hands placed each plant in the dirt like a surgeon’s carefully place scalpel. The sweat that dripped off his darkened forehead and onto the ground gave life to the garden and in return the garden thanked him with its vibrant blooms and luscious fruit. As Percy stopped to rest he looked at me and said “drink?” while lifting up his cooler filled with every imaginable off brand soda. I remember saying “no thanks…I have to go”, but the strange thing was that I didn’t. Still to this day I don’t know why I didn’t have a drink with Percy, but I wish that I had. I wish I could have enjoyed the fast approaching dusk with Percy. I wish I could have talked to him a little bit more about his wonderful garden.
I often ask my brother if he has seen Percy at the garden, but the usual response is no. My brother hasn’t seen Percy for some time now and his beautiful garden now has weeds and is overgrown. I really didn’t know Percy but I still remember him, I still remember the way he looked and how he loved his garden. I still remember that warm summer day and how it seemed perfect. I can still remember the peace and the presence of God. A garden needs a gardener just as we need God. A garden must be tended to just as we need to be tended to. As the gardener tends to their garden they will eventually see its fruits and as Christ tends to us we will eventually yield His.
Breathe in the grace of God.
They say that if we do not have a way to express ourselves we will die. Expression has no end nor does it have a beginning. Expression is our thoughts, our pain and our triumphs. We cannot live a life without expression. “Expression is the result of conviction.” Let our lives resound with the expression of God. We are the expression of our loving Father. We are His passion; made in His image through mercy and grace. The promise of eternal life rests within our hearts, our soul longs to be home with the Father. We are strangers in this world; we are lost children trying to find our way back to the home that we so dearly long for. How can I belong to a world that chooses to reap pain and sorrow? How can I live a life without the expression of God? It’s simply like this…I can’t. God has written his word into our hearts and it is calling us back to Him, back into His arms. Though I may struggle to be with Him, I know that He is always with me. There are so may of us that do not and sometimes feel we can not understand God as our father. We have become spiritually frustrated at the emptiness that has found a place within our lives. Hope has now just become a word with little meaning and faith has no assurance. We must hold on to the fact that God is beyond what you can do alone. Let us rest in the fact that we are His beloved. His love for us is the expression of His victory over death. God has poured all of His soul into our lives; He has chosen us to eternally commune with Him. God is our father, He is our strength in weakness and our rock in this world made of sand.
We no longer live in emptiness.
Even as I write the word “Home” I don’t know what I should think or feel. It’s such a powerful word invoking numerous emotions. For some home is a place of comfort and where they feel loved, and for others it’s a place of anguish and pain. Home should be a place of rest; it should be a place where we can take refuge from all the pain in this world. It should be understood that the true sense of the word can only be found in Christ. Home isn’t where we sleep, it isn’t where we eat with our families, spend birthdays and Christmas. Home is where we can never be abused; it’s where we will never be looked down upon or feel unloved. Home is where we dwell in the presence of Christ. It’s where we are one with Him in the midst of our joy and our suffering. Home is where our loving Father can whisper into our ear that we have been chosen.
Let our home be with Christ, let it be that inner place where we walk beside our loving Father and most compassionate God. Let us come home and look into the eyes and heart of Jesus. Our home is the understanding that we are His sons and daughters; we are the heirs of Christ adopted into His kingdom.