“Where are your accusers? Are there any left?”
“Then neither do I accuse you.”
I have the luxury that not too many time on my news feed do political things come up. However, the do come up. I can’t help but laugh at the slogan “not my president” like an individual needs a president, instead of that which it truly is, a country receives a president. I can’t help but notice the venom of not getting everything “my way”.
I’m surprised how many people have fallen in line with this. Surely there’s other ways to reasonably express the same thing. So much time spent on something so disliked. …and why? What difference will it make in the end?
What happened to be the change you want to see? Or is hate a hot seller right now? I wonder: How do we not become the thing we hate?
It’s not just about politics. It’s actual life and character that are at stake daily. I ask myself this questions not because of politics or news feed propaganda, but because I’ve come across (and walked away from) people who cannot be reasoned with. People who are destructive, manipulative, cunning & deceitful yet claiming to be innocent. The struggle was all too real. Too close to home. Too appalling. In the end, I got nothing. No one heard me. I was the trouble maker for pointing out the lies. In the end all I had was this questions: How do I not become what I hate?
In our lives, I believe we learn not just from good examples, but also from bad examples. Yet either way, we can find that this path markers can become more like our aim or goal. We focus on them too much and we never get to enjoy the path ahead of us. We can even get into messy situations or get lost.
If I focus too much on what I despise (for the sake of not being that) there’s a chance I could actually accumulate those same traits, that same path. I could find myself almost hypnotized by it. I don’t want that to happen.
I have to keep a balance. I have to remember that goal and not just the means or the markers. I have to remember I am not the things that I’ve been “shunned” for, and that those who would shun me, don’t know me. They’re unwilling to know me. I have to know who I am, not based upon the accusatory things that others say. I have know truth apart from opinion. …and that’s ridiculously hard. But If I don’t it’s consumingly destructive.
Sometime I get lost in destruction. I forget to move. I forget to cover up and protect the necessary core. I get worked over by those who don’t intend good for me, but wins for themselves. I am in the way. …to them.
These moments can’t define me. I am more than my weakness. I am greater than my strength. It’s something that takes training and self-diagnostics. It takes refocusing and breathing good air. I have to remember what is beautiful, and let that also be an inspiration. I cannot fill my head with what I despise, and then expect that I’ll become better than just that. I need to consider that there is beauty which is still waiting to unfold. I need to remember that I can be part of that (regardless of what others say I am). I need to protect that…delicately.
I need to remember that no matter who “won” that there’s a lot of work to do. Good work.
I am becoming something that I wasn’t before. I need to cultivate that into the good that I want to see. I need to keep my eyes on prize, and not dredge down into previous failings. I need to move forward, because there’s more than just me at stake.
I need to consider whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise… then these thing shall also obtain a place in my mind and my musings. I will not be overcome by imbalance and injustice. I will strive for beauty’s sake.
When my life is over I’m going to leave some things undone. It’s not because of my amazingly over-ambitious and lack-of-totally-follow-through that my personality tends towards. It’s because I’m part of a great legacy that includes that next generation of seekers.
The Saints. The ones spoken of in Hebrew chapter of 11 of the Bible, is one of the most challenging things for me to read, but then to top it off, they add these phrases:
All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, …
Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.
For a long time it killed me this idea of that they did not receive that which they were promised. I mean…that just doesn’t sound like how a good God works, right? Isn’t too much of modern Christianity about receiving some benefit or promise of some kind right? Heaven, ruling & reigning with Jesus, health & power, get of hell free card, direct line with God’s answering prayers service, or something…right?
So how would it possible for the great forefather of Faith to not receive and yet we should still believe God that he will give to us what’s promised? How does that even work?
Well, maybe our biggest problem is seeing ourselves so very independently.
There was an old preacher man how use to remind people, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age” but then he added “But it takes a ‘we’ who wrestle.”
In our faith, we are connected to much more than ourselves. Having faith is more than having something to believe in and then cliches, catch-words, and/or doctrinal stances to back it up. Being a part of a Faith is to live in an ancient city that is eternally young and to find our citizenship to be part of many millions and billions of people who live according to a God-honoring culture. A people who pass on what they’ve had, so that those who come next will do better, be stronger, receive the lessons and build on them, and at the same time continue with the original plan.
Being a part of Faith is like living in a coral reef. the complexity and beauty comes from the compiling of lives into one place, one time, one great benefit… a healthy ecosystem.
Our own personal imperfection or lack, only goes to give others a chance to hook-in and connect, like a puzzle piece, and begin to build in the areas where we can’t reach. And it’s beautiful. We shouldn’t be afraid of a deficiency we have as an individual when we are willing to be one part of the whole. But that’s the trick part right? Since we individually have these deficiencies, then we are shy or embarrassed to connect with what might seem to us more perfect specimens. Or maybe we’re reserved about connecting with those who expose a particular flaw or weakness.
Or maybe we’ve had the crazy idea put into our head of how we (individually) are to become perfect, and therein did not see it as a “we” being the same “we” who wrestle. We don’t tend to see our faith as continuum of a Faith that has been going on and coming into the crux for some time now. Instead we find ourselves to be a modern rendition of something that once was, but has long since been made into moral stories.
We do not understand the value of what we’ve inherited.
But it’s not too late for us, by any means. We can begin to learn -even now- of what great treasures we have come into when we find our imperfect selves connecting to one another and to these old stories with new life still flowing out of them.
Moreover, we don’t have to worry about being a thousand percent correct in all thing just so that we can participate without injuring the beautiful name and legacy. We need to understand how our worth comes from connectivity. This something worth exploring. It’s worth learning together.
There ought to be things that still break our hearts. IF we consider ourselves to be in some relationship or acquaintanceship with God, then there definitely out to be things that still break our hearts in very tender ways.
I struggle to find the words of what I saw.
There are a people within Christianity who claim to love the Jews people, but they believe that something just like the last Holocaust is possible or even likely to happen again. These said people wish to do their part to protect God’s Chosen People. They believe a redeemed Israel will come out of the calamity, albeit a drastically reduced number.
Some times these people speak so factually it scares me to here their casualness.
But it got worse. …
I once heard a vehement Jew…maybe rabbi, I don’t remember right now…say something along the lines of, “Christians just want to use Jews to bring back their Christ! They don’t care about us!“. As if one religious culture could use or manipulate or sacrifice another. I hate how right he may have been. I could only imagine what he’s seen and heard. I know what I’ve seen and heard makes me sick to think about it, even as I search for the words.
These select group of Christians (fore mentioned) had a portion of them give a message/sermon which I heard about after the fact, although I was at the same camp…I skipped this particular “teacher”. He spoke from Ezekiel 39:9-16, and he spoke words of mockery.
One of the other seminar attendee’s gladly recount the summary for me. The theory went something like this: after the Jews survive (barely) another world war, then they’ll see Christ and be humbled, then they’ll have to be on cleanup duty for seven months from all the Armageddon that just occurred, and they’ll become even more humbled. Then after that, maybe they’ll be truly reconciled with God.
My heart broke.
These are the Christians who claim to love Israel and love the Jew? What love is this, that delights in their being kept out of their own Holy City and having to do humiliating unclean work of peasants? While what..? The “Christians” get to hang out with the Messiah, partying because they’re so much more fit to be in the Holy City?
No. I do not hear the heart of God in this. No. I will not be with that crowd.
If that was the only way such scriptures could be read, then let me just say, I would set aside “party time” or “ruling and reigning with Christ” and I would go help the Jews with the disgusting, unclean work of picking up corpses and bones left rotting months after the most horrific battle of history.
These things should not be taken so light-heartedly.
Did this teacher even stop for two minutes to consider God’s heart on these things? Or how Christ works over and over again? How is that Christians can take verses like, “But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” or “And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses“, but they are only for Christians?
How is it that there is still this idea that one must clean themselves up before God will accept them? How does one clean themselves up with God’s help?
In case you should become curious what is in Ezekiel 39:9-16 and what does it say… may I just offer another point of view? It’s not about Israel going through more disgrace and humbling. By this point in the eschatological story (end of times story), the remaining People of God have already beheld and meet their God in fullness. They are already a priestly people. Now God has put a new love in their hearts where they can’t stand the idea that something -even something defiling- would stand in the way of anyone coming up the Mount of God and meeting with the true God. Therefore, they’re so fervent, that they willing go out, work as hard as they can, for as long as they can, and they will clear the Traveler’s Valley, so anyone…absolutely anyone can come and meet with God.
They are not doing this to earn merit, but out of Love…the Love of God, which we only gain when we experience a personal encounter with God.
I don’t understand the words “I love you” or “love” itself when people hook with circumstantial requirements. Although maybe we all do. Maybe we’re a people who forgotten how to love other just because …just because there is some unmistakable beauty in the depths of another person’s soul, which our soul notices even before we see it or understand it ourselves.
Even if we fail at this… can we just, please, not put God’s name on it?
Can we just have enough respect for a being that would qualify as God to not try to make him into a tyrant or monster at every other turn? Can we just admit we want points for our deeds? Can we just stop putting other people down even though we find disappointment all around us? Can we have a little respect? Can we hope in beauty? Can we stop being mean to those who brought us here?
If we’re going to were the title Christian, could we just believe in the way Christ Jesus lived, and they things he taught? Could we just look at the scriptures without trying to find our own treasures, and just search for God’s heart instead?
Could we stop saying “I love you” just to make it easier to use people? Please… Please stop feeding your hate.
Can we wash one another’s feet just because Jesus called us to servanthood? Can we just act like the thing by which we identify ourselves as?
Something changes when you know God’s heart beyond the best doctrinal choices. When God doesn’t fit into our given options, we have a chance at expanding our world, our minds, and our hearts.
When Jesus had his infamous “angry moment” in the Temple, flipping tables and driving out the money changers… you need to understand the unspoken things that happened there. The context, if you will. In those days, people sold potential sacrifices just outside the inner temple area, in an area known as the court of Gentiles. It was all the closer Gentiles were allowed to get towards the Holy God of Israel. Whether out of spite, commerce greed, or necessity of the day this area (the court of the Gentiles) had become so packed that barely anyone could walk around in it -because of the buying, selling, and trading taking place- let alone have a quiet moment to worship a still distant God.
So Jesus comes in see all this taking place and quotes the scripture, “My house will be called a house of prayer” …and the rest of the sentence is “for all nations”.
Hebraically, this is how you quote scriptures, in part. Because ever elementary age child learned the scriptures by heart. …or nearly. It’s iron sharping iron to quote part and have those around you quote the rest to you and still understand the greater picture of what’s being said. Kind of like we do with movie quotes nowadays.
So in this famous “angry moment” of Jesus at the Temple, we see God’s heart is broken in that Israel (and their religious system) isn’t taking seriously being the People of God and priestly to all nations. So I can only imagine if there comes a time when the Messiah shows up, and restores the fullness of all things, then these people too will see the truth about even this detail in the covenant.
When God shows up everything changes.
It would be absolutely impractical to have a half love for the Jew now, merely waiting for Jesus to come and rub their faces in it, and to think that will be enough to be a catalyst for their “full salvation”. It’s absurd!
If we want to make a difference in the darkest times, we must know God’s heart. We must know God’s heart beyond doctrinal correctness. We must not despise one we call our brother. We must see the beauty of what God is doing beyond our own selves and our reward.
Love is nothing if it is not lavish and strong to those who are weak and far off. And if our love is nothing, than so are we.
Have you seen those post on social media where it instructs you to post your first profile picture and your latest one side by side? A sort of comparison. A sort of looking back on your journey. Yet how can you choose your first ever and latest one and not see all the ones in the middle? And how does anyone look at a photo they’re in and not remember that moment or how it feels or the stories one was attempting to convey at that point?
At least for me, this is some of what happens.
I know that my pictures say one thing to people, and that I see another thing. In my profile picture journey, I see someone who has learned, and yet is still learning not to hate this face. Learning to be comfortable in ones own skin, and learning not to hate oneself.
No. Not too honest. If only we could all be something close to this volume of honesty with ourselves. For we have all been on a long journey throughout the days, week, years of our lives. We posted words, pictures, videos, and essentially hints to other people …but did anybody see it? Have we seen it ourselves?
We have seen our own flaws. We have ignored our own wounds. We have stoned our hearts towards others on an occasion. We have been broken, transformed, affected by still others on different, rare, occasions. We have morphed into whom we are today.
Did we notice?
I like to take an account of my life once every so often. I like to ask myself where I am, where I want to go, if I’ve missed anything, if there are things I need to take care of now, if there are things I can’t yet deal with. Essentially, I like to run a systems check. Sometimes all it can do is make me aware of errors that I do have, whether or not I can readjust them at this time or not.
Because I don’t want to make it another age in life, and say to myself, how did I get here? I want to be aware of the journey that takes place along the way. Sometimes hindsight does give a fuller explanation, but I don’t want to miss this just because I can’t yet understand.
If it hurts, I’m still here to feel it. I don’t just turn it off. …Though maybe I try sometimes.
All too often, I know that when I look back, I didn’t do great. I see a lot of wounds. They’re not all healed. They don’t all make sense. But I look at them anyways. I treat them the best that I can for now, and I move forward.
On a good day, I fight lies that have incubated some of the wounds or infections therein. On a bad day, I think about the ugliness of the scars that will come of this even if it does heal. But one thing that has changed, I stopped needing to fix myself. I stopped needing to change. I stopped hating myself more than anyone else hated me so that they couldn’t hurt me worse than I’d done to myself. I stopped trying to control nonsensical judgements, expectations, and imagery …all of which changes so fast and so frequently that it left me in ruins every time.
I started finding the most solid foundational things I could possibly believe in. I went way down to the bare bone of my soul, and I just sat there for a while. It ached. I longed to be covered up, but I refused to put on these destructive presuppositions. I learned to be in my own skin and just feel what that felt like. and I learned there was a lot –a whole lot– of ache in there.
A recent reality check came when someone I knew as a teenager retired and I went to their party. I hadn’t been seen or heard of for a decade & half, but I decide to show up in order to honor this person. I was surprised to find everything the same. I was even more surprised to see that they assumed that I would be the same.
Was my mask that good, back then?
I ached and no one saw it. I hide and no one saw me. I survived and barely did more, and they thought I was living a fairy tale. No one saw the war I felt.
Thankfully I grew up, and I grew away. I got out and got healthy. I learned to live my skin, feel my own bones, breathe in and out, and to be here in this moment and to feel it and to deal with it.
I learned what it is to be me. Well…I’m still learning in some ways. This isn’t perfect, but I actually feel like I am here. I am see-able. Whether or not people turn aside to see, isn’t my problem. I am living. It’s okay if part of living is failing, because if I am still living I can still try again. …on a good day.
Ultimately I found, a lot of my self-hatred came from not actually knowing or being myself. So much of who I’ve been has been told to me. But now…now I’m telling my own story. I am living my own story. I’m finding I am part of something bigger than this tiny point in history.
I’m finding that self-hatred can even be fueled by to two different wisdoms colliding. A wisdom of well-oiled-machine world that tells you to comply to its systems, and a wisdom of a God-created-world that tells an engrossing story which we are part of.
Only part, but knowing my life is a piece of that story helps.
Once I choose to direct my steps according the God-created-world wisdom, a lot of things started to make sense for me. I started to see why I couldn’t be what people expected. I started to see why I hated who I was when I tried to comply. I found freedom to be imperfect, but at the same time strength to walk towards perfection without shame.
I found home in the midst of a journey. Because more than getting somewhere, becoming something, doing some great thing in time …more than those I found myself as part of something timeless. I found an identity in the midst of ancient story of a people.
And all those expectations that people have, they don’t depend on me to accomplish it for them, because I am only part of something so much grander than myself and my little life. I am one, and as one, I am part of many.
This is my beautiful life.
I admit, I feel like I’ve been whining to myself. I’ve wondering if there’s anyone else who notices these things, and if there is does anyone do anything about it?
It was that inglorious moment of Elijah on the Mount of God complaining about being the only one left, and not understanding God’s answer.
There I was wondering why any great prophet of God would ever do something like “a voice of one calling out in the wilderness”. Is it that no one else will less so the prophet has to cry out to the wilderness? The trees, shrubs, or even cacti, are these the only thing left in God’s creation to listen to the message of God?
…And then I got it.
Only that Babylon-based systems needs the city life, depends on the merchants shipments, awaits the luxurious modern prerequisites, and stays cloistered in the “safety” of the known “civilized world”.
But the people of God have never feared the wilderness.
They travel, preach, wander through, live-in, explore, and discover throughout the wilderness. Generation after generation stories of God’s people of throughout the wilderness continue to emerge.
And isn’t the just like God? Right where we’re sure there’s nothing to be seen or found, there… that’s where God’s glory really shows up.
I get it now.
I’m not alone in this. I am surround by the great cloud of witnesses. Here in the wilderness. I live amongst the people of God. I exist in the midst of God’s story for this time, this generation, these people. We are here, in the wilderness, because God’s people are here (in the wilderness) praying to God for a word. A message. A sign. A single person to stand in the gap.
I get it now.
The unseen, the unnoticed, those who cry out to God assuming no one else will hear their cries… these are always the people who God has identified himself with. They are the wilderness people. These are the ones that God sends us to when we don’t know where we’re going.
It’s too beautiful to conceive when we’re attempting to view things from the wisdom of the world. Indeed it takes the wisdom of God to full see the beauty of God. …and it’s worth beholding.
Now I feel like I can stand here with a smile and say “Hey there…” in the midst of the wilderness, simply knowing this is the beautiful way God achieves those amazing stories that the Bible itself is complied of. How wonderful to be a part of those living today, seeking God, and searching beyond the known standard.
This maybe a beautiful day afterall.
To Write Love On Her Arms recently put up a controversial statement from a controversial man. It was not the statement itself that caused me to stop and mourn, it was the comments thereafter which I saw utter fruitlessness in.
Statements about those who “want” to die (sucide) will figure out a way to die regardless of access to a gun. Statements like modern “health care” includes “mental health” care.
When did needing new to be loved and cared for, needing to feel worth, fall under “mental health”? Are we now a people who believe so little in the spiritual matters that we don’t even consider ones soul? One’s fighting spirit? One’s natural need to be included in healthy community? Are we so willing to hide ourselves from the concept of God that we sacrifice our children to prosperity?
Caring should never fall second place to any “solution” nor should one’s agenda be a guise for caring. This is the most humiliating disgrace of believing that a system (whether government, church, non-profit, ect.) are the ones to “fix” things or to care for people everywhere as a whole. A system, a law, a program cannot replace a living being, a person, a caring friend.
What stops sucides are people. Not laws. Not difficult access to possibly deadly scenarios. Not cliches. Not a time-out rehab.
When we stop being people, death has already won. When we stop loving one another, isolation has already killed us. But we are not people who are dead; we are alive. We have opportunity to care, and therein we have opportunity to live as well.
I don’t want to save 2 out of 3 people. I want to love those who haven’t known the security of love. I want to befriend those who haven’t been established in the embrace of a tender home. It’s not about numbers. I don’t serve a God who looks for better statistics. I serve a God who knows each person by name.
I am not a number. I am not a satistic. And I will not treat others like they are. This is real life not a number of a page in a story book. Reconsider responsibility.