Monday, March 28, 2011

Just a Spark

Nobody said the Christian life was going to be easy. I've read Dietrich Bonhoffer, Amy Carmichel and the rest and they really lived. But when I think about them I'm tempted to wonder, "Where does my life measure up?"

Here I am, supposed to be raising support to reach youth for Christ, and I'm hesitant, fearful, lazy and just plain sick of it. I'm not the charasmatic picture of someone "on fire" for God. I more resemble a weak spark. I'm "a little spark" for God.

I feel worn, weary and discouraged. ("Fun! Keep writing Phil!") Life with Jesus isn't supposed to feel this way is it? It's supposed to all pan out and be groovy. In fact life with Jesus is supposed to fill us with unquenchable joy right? I don't know.

I hate "happy-all-the-time-Christians." Maybe I shouldn't type this, but I do. But it's not the picture we get from the Bible is it? The Bible shows us people at the end of their rope living in desperate hope. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Right now, I don't like doing what I don't want to do. And given the opportunity, I'll avoid hard work like the plague. Or at least the hard work of fund-raising that I've been called to. By grace I've done a lot of hard work. But I'm feeling restless these days.

Why don't I just throw in the towel? I wonder sometimes. Maybe I'm just not cut out for this. Here I sit at almost 80% support, with two beautiful kids and a gorgeous wife who cares and gives and gives me to shame. And I just want to sit. Plus I can't find any towels to throw.

I'm all out of phone calls. I'm all out of emails. I'm all out of vulnerability. I'm all out of being a missionary. I just want to hang it all and go fishing. It's what the ancient Chinese would do when they were disenchanted with the world. It was their subtle way of saying the world could go to heck.

I guess I'm disenchanted. I know I'm being pretty dramatic. And this is probably just me coming down off of a coffee high, but it's how I feel. I'll probably be happy again by the afternoon. It's the way of the human. I know nobody wants to hear me gripe. But the Christian life, the life of being stretched to do what everything in me wants to run from, does make me grumble. Or it at least gives me indigestion.

With all of the above being the way I feel, it's weird because I can calmly and reasonably say that I still have hope. Jesus is familiar with my suffering (even if it's just being human) and in Hebrews I hear he prays for me. He prays that I would not only have hope, but that I would live with joy and a purpose. And I'm not talking "Purpose Driven Life" stuff, I'm talking about walking with my God in the cool of the Garden kind of purpose stuff. I need more than Christianeze self-help, I need Jesus.

In the morning before my coffee, I need Christ. At noon-time, the time of this entry, I really need Christ. In the afternoon, I need Christ. In the evening I need Christ. Through the watches of the night I need Christ. We all do, especially when we don't know it.

Sometimes this need is what I run from. I hate being needy. I hate not being able to make life work. Sometimes I hate it when people remind me to trust. I'm like, "I've tried trusting and it doesn't turn out all peachy." Thankfully I don't feel this way all the time. This is just a faze, perhaps a coffee faze. It will pass.

So what do I do in the meantime? I should trust when it feels all wrong. I should work when it doesn't make sense. I should practise a little radical self-love, by inviting the Spirit to sing the Gospel music to me. I want to wallow around in self-loathing, but I'd much rather hear the music. I need to relax, pray and breathe.

Most of all I should let this big God of mine be big. I should recognize that he takes my faltering, stuttering, sin-riddled steps towards him and makes something beautiful happen: His Kingdom Coming. I don't think God's looking for me to be a saint. He's looking for a sinner to do his work. I've got the sinner part down.

I've got to quit thinking that I've got this whole "missionary-support-dad-husband-writer thing." I don't have it, and never will, but Jesus does and in him I hope, be it ever so weakly... be it just a spark. God can use a spark...

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