Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Life, Death, and Caffeine

Here I sit in another coffee shop, on another hot, hot day, having called or emailed 25 people. My personal goal for each day is to call/email about 15 times. So I'm pumped I reached 25 today but also wearied by the effort. But with as much effort as I'm putting into this support raising stuff, I'm beginning to think about how much effort God puts into us.

I don't know, God often seems so distant to me. Sometimes I think he's just an idea, an abstract construction, or simply not there. But I'm learning more and more that if I'll just stop and listen, God is everywhere and involved in everything. He's the one giving me the strength to keep going, he's the one walking beside me and showing me all the wonders of a life. He's teaching me that life is found in sacrifice. I don't think I live all that sacrificially, in fact I'm almost always looking for ways to ease my burden, to escape obedience, and shirk responsibility. But I'm learning that the key to life is found in dying to self.

This is nothing new. Jesus said it. Apostles said it. Church fathers said it. And people today say it. I guess it's easy to say but much harder to pull off. It takes something supernatural, something outside of ourselves to pull off and something deeper and richer than our common day experience to draw us the type of death that enables freedom. I long for this. I long to live and breath through the life of Christ.

Oftentimes, I just feel I can't, so I simply don't. Rarely in these times do I ask. I believe if you ask for the strength to die to selfishness and live for/with others and for/with Christ you will. It's undeniable that God answers these sorts of prayers. It's also undeniable that life must come from death if God's involved. All we have to do is look at the Cross. There God pulled off the impossible.

As someone somewhere has written, the Christian life is about impossibilities becoming possible. I believe this! There's no way I can die to myself unless my friend Jesus is involved in the process, motivating, empowering, encouraging, and cheering me on. I'm reminded of the story of Eustace in Voyage of the Dawn Treader, when his greed has turned him into a dragon, and Aslan tears layer after layer of flesh off of Eustace until he's finally free.

For me that's the catch. If I want to be transformed into God's image, I've got to at some point say Lord I'm yours, have your way with me. I need the Spirit to do this, for the prospect is a painful one - one of destruction of all the lies that hold me together. But if I'm willing God is able to do it. If I submit myself to the care of my true lover, I'll find myself once again myself.

This is where I find the theme of Christianity being the true humanism (J I Packer). It really is. It's not until we let the death that has ruled our lives die (sounds weird doesn't it) that we begin to live.

Jesus said in John 10, "The devil has come to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that you may have life and have life in the full." Jesus knew our dynamic, he knew that I was heald captive to death, to a destroyer and deceiver, one who had me believing I was alive when I was really dead. I still do, and I still need Jesus to interupt, intervene and rescue me from my walking nightmare.

I believe Jesus is doing this with me as I contemplate a life of service and seek to be available to serve my wife children and the community as best as I can. I just wrote that last sentence full of skepticism, for my efforts are so paltry, but my God is big. And in the bigness of my God and in the strength of his hand I can rest.

It's still hot outside, and as I'm sure you can tell I'm motoring on with a caffeine buzz. I love these times, after a hard days work, getting the chance to reflect on the God who never gives in, never goes down, never gets rattled, never gets scared, never gets lost, never loses heart, and never, ever, ever gives up on you and me. It helps me to accept the shortcomings of my day and my efforts, and reminds me to shift my focus from me to God, the only place we can really see anything anyway.

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