Monday, October 17, 2011

Lanterns vs. Stars

The Lord sometimes blows my mind away. Sometimes He just gives me more than I can take. He’s awesome like that. And today, He did it again.

I was feeling unappreciated this afternoon, so I decided to read a blog that I knew usually lifted me up. Adam Young and I could seriously be best friends. Our minds think so much alike. (For those of you who don’t know who he is, he is Owl City. Think of the song Fireflies. That’s him. He’s a Christian, and is very outspoken about that in his blog. I love reading it because of that fact. You’d probably like it--Owl City Blog--The Official Blog) I’ve taken from his inspirations countless times, and many a time I should have noted his influence, but he has permeated my thinking—actually, we both write in similar styles, so some of his wording and mine collide. Anyways, back to why we were both inspired.

We are so satisfied by temporal things. It’s sad. I have this quote by C. S. Lewis written on a paper on my wall in my room at home:

We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about… like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot understand what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

“I’m a thinker, not a talker. Mind pictures, exemplums and allegories hit home. This one was a grand slam,” said Adam Young. I can think of no other way to describe this quote he quoted by SØren Kierkegaard:

“When the prosperous man on a dark but starlit night drives comfortably in his carriage and has the lanterns lighted, aye, then he is safe, he fears no difficulty, he carries his light with him, and it is not dark close around him. But precisely because he has the lanterns lighted, and has a strong light close to him, precisely for this reason, he cannot see the stars. For his lights obscure the stars, which the poor peasant, driving without lights, can see gloriously in the dark but starry night. So those deceived ones live in the temporal existence: either, occupied with the necessities of life, they are too busy to avail themselves of the view, or in their prosperity and good days they have, as it were, lanterns lighted, and close about them everything is so satisfactory, so pleasant, so comfortable — but the view is lacking, the prospect, the view of the stars.”

If we hold on to man-made comforts, man-made lights, even in the darkest night, we miss the beauty God set before us in the stars. If you think about it, we usually reach for those lanterns. They’re easy, they’re useful, they’re “normal”. But are they really what we’d choose if we really thought?

We miss out on God’s best because we don’t wanna leave our make-do’s.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Believe It

This is the 3rd part of my series and the basis for my last post, “He is with You”—if it seems a little dry, the meat is in the last post. I encourage you to read them both. 
He says it. I tell you! The Lord God of all that He ever created wants to tell you His promises. He wants you to remember them.
the ultimate SURVIVING tool
I can hardly say enough about how much I love my Study Bible. Last night I was feeling alone in the world—and when I opened my Bible, guess what fell out? A paper a friend gave me with many promises of God contradicting human thinking. Under the human thought, “I feel all alone,” there was only one verse. Hebrews chapter thirteen, verse five says:
“God has said: ‘Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.’”
A few pages flipped around (thanks to a concordance and cross-referencing), and I find where God said that: Deuteronomy chapter thirty-one, verse six. But a few verses down in that same chapter, He also said:
“The Lord himself foes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
The next link lead me to a more pessimistic point of view of this promise:
“The Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon you or destroy you or forget.” ~Deut. 4:31
Even farther back into the Old Testament, God promises Jacob:
“I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
So, until when does this “until” last? The answer is in the New Testament:
“I'm convinced that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it through to completion on the day of Christ Jesus.”~Phil. 1:6 (GW) 
But my personal favorite is in Psalms:
"If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast." ~Psalms 139:9-10 
Do I believe that God promises He will always be with me and will always be working on me until the end of the age (a.k.a. “the day of Christ Jesus”)? Yes. Can I grasp how He could or even would want to? No. But we walk by faith, not by sight. Or, I guess I could say we walk by faith, not by insight.
Just don’t forget God. He won’t forget you. You better believe it.

He is with You

This is part 2 of my series and the crux of it all. One night I was feeling so alone and not sure of what I was meant for. I opened my Bible and a piece of paper literally fell out. It was a paper a youth pastor once handed out entitled “Human Thinking vs. God’s Promises”. The last human thinking sentence was “I feel so alone” and I knew I needed to do a cross-reference using my study tools. This came out of that searching of the word. I hope you take out of it as much as I did.

It sounds so cliché. You know, you hear Christians say, “I know it’ll be alright because He is with me.” That fact has become monotonous. Yes, I know, we have God right at our shoulders, waiting to give us advice in any situation. I KNOW!

Do you? Do you really know the Maker of the universe wants to focus on you? Do you really know He chose you because He likes you, not just loves you? Do you?

Do we really understand the importance of that one promise? Can anyone fully grasp the fact that we have the Most Wise Friend, the Most Experienced Friend and the Most Loving Friend of all history in our shadow waiting to be invited to walk right beside us? If we did, if I did, I know there would be so much difference in this world.

“Be strong and courageous, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua chapter one verse nine is one of my favorites. You hear it all the time. It’s been made into many, many songs. The newest Christian movie on the market is even called Courageous. But were we to grasp what is meant by that promise, what would we do differently? How would we react to knowing, truly knowing, that our Lord and Savior will be with us wherever we go for us to draw strength and courage from?

We all work better when our boss is right beside us, or our teacher is eying our work. It’s just a fact. How much more should we be focused and intent on making our work perfect if we knew the Only Perfect One was watching over our shoulders! I wish it were that easy.

Because He’s always there, we become oblivious to His Presence. Unless we go through trials where we need a shoulder to cry on, we rarely turn to Him for guidance. At least, I know I don’t. While He waits in anguish like a lover gazes and longs for his best friend to finally realize her “boyfriends” aren’t who she truly loves, we squander our lives on worthless things, unwilling to realize Who we’re searching for.

And He keeps reminding us again and again: “I am always with you. Always have been, always will be. I promise. I love you. I never will leave you, even in the hardest times. You can trust me.” We listen for a few minutes, gather comfort and move on. Aren’t we missing a step?

I wish Jesus could walk with me in the flesh all day long—the apostles did not know what blessing they had to see His face, to know His gait, to hear His voice ringing in their ears. Maybe then we’d not forget Him, maybe then we could truly know He is and will ever be with us.

Moving

Now, I know I’ve posted another post with a similar title, but this one isn’t talking about moving from one house to another. I mean traveling between the places. I haven’t really written a whole lot of heart-to-hearts or personal accounts as a missionary’s kid (MK), so this is going to comprise a little of that aspect.
Being a missionary’s kid comes with many lines of fine print. Oh, the adventures are great! I can tell you that for a known fact. I can also pick out another missionary’s kid pretty easily, in my opinion. But when you go overseas—or to even just a foreign country neighboring yours—there are a lot of things one could never understand until he’s experienced them.
I was talking to a friend of mine not too long ago, and he asked how things were going. I complained of not having anything “normal” going on, and his reply was, “I thought your life wasn’t ever normal.” He has a point. For Americans, he’s completely right! My life is in no way normal for anyone that uses America as a standard.  
Not being “normal” is sometimes awesomely fun and sometimes really hard, just like being normal is. (Actually, I wouldn’t know about being “normal”.) The hardest part of being a missionary’s kid is seeing people and leaving people day in and day out. That’s also the hardest part about going on furlough. You see people, you love people, you leave people, and you miss people. It’s a never-ending cycle. But that’s also the best part. You get to meet so many people and make so many friends.
That brings me to the whole reason why I’m writing this article. This is an introduction to my 3-part series, which doesn’t really have a title. In the hardest of times of being not “normal” (as we all tend to be), God will and always has been with us. That’s the only reason we live.
The next two posts will follow this theme: God is with us. He has promised that to us so many times, yet, do we actually understand the full concept of this?