Troubled

I don’t have every answer in life
But I’m trusting You one day at a time
Cause You can make a weak heart stay alive, forever
And this is where heaven and earth collide
I lift my hands, I give my life
This is how my weary heart stays alive
Sanctus Real, “The Redeemer”

These lyrics speak of a lot of thing in a short space. Today, they’re uplifting for me.

This week has seen a number of things come across that make me weary. A friend in desperate need of help. Impending loneliness as my wife and son travel to our hometown. Students who see in me nothing more than someone who is “out to get them.” And on the other hand, students who share personal things that make me grieve for a generation of young people who are getting lost in the mire of life. Add on top of that a daily witness to hypocrisy and slander being done to the name in the of Jesus, about which I can do nothing.

It has become so tiresome, I almost didn’t get out of bed Friday. Then, I slept awfully last night. And right now, I feel the effects of something invading my body, rendering me tired and fairly worthless.

And yet, there is a light ahead. It’s not Spring Break, although I will definitely enjoy that.

I’ve been studying the Gospel of John for school, and quite separately, I’ve been studying Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet for work. I’ve noticed some things, which I hope to elaborate on throughout the coming weeks, that remind me of why I am here.

God has not only given me new life, but He’s shared His beating heart with me. No matter how the world around me may break, I have been shown that healing is out there. It’s the only real comfort sometimes. There is hurt and brokenness around me, and God is not ignoring it. This is, of course, how my weary heart stays alive, by staying connected to the beating heart of God. This may mean that I cry when my students tell me about emotional crises in their lives. This may mean that I feel helpless when friends are hurting. This may even mean that I feel heartbroken for people I’ve never met who are suffering halfway around the world. But these wounds…these rips in the fabric of life…they can be mended.

I John 3:16 whispers in my mind in times like these:

We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

As I lay awake at night, and hear these words, I thank God for a soft heart, and all the pains that come with it. It reminds me, again, that hope is never far off, not matter how troubled the world around me may seem.

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Unfortunately, this happens every week…

"God hates gays. Repent or burn in hell."

…at the University of West Florida. I’ve been meaning to post this image for a while. I took this picture back at UWF’s Pensacola campus a month or two ago. This is how we communicate the love of God to people? Really?

Things like this just bewilder me.

I met a an Agnostic woman there who was crying from the disgust she felt at the display this group put on. All I could do was apologize to her. And that didn’t really feel like it was enough.

Oh wait! There's more!

Who would have thought that after 24 hours I would have more to say about communication? Well, I do. I started asking myself about ways that I communicate poorly, and I started remembering things from the Bible. Imagine that? For starters, Jesus talked about relationships quite a bit. Jesus did this whole bit on what the Law said concerning how we treat each other, and how He calls us to live at a standard even higher than simply obeying the Law.

If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.

Do I do this? Do I make sure that there is no one on this earth who can hold a legitimate claim against me before I come before the throne of God? Hell no. I don’t even come remotely close to doing that. I justify keeping to myself. I convince myself and others that I’ve done all I can, when that is so rarely the case.

As if that wasn’t enough for me to see my own faults, I saw this little note in the margin of my Bible that pointed me to the letter to the Romans. Paul talked about relationships too, apparently.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

Bless those who persecute me? Be of the same mind? Respect what is right in the sight of all men?! Seriously? How on earth am I supposed to do all of that? I can’t even agree with some people on the color of the sky and I have to do all of this?

And there it is again: me. I’m the problem. I hide in my hole and surround myself with activities so that I can avoid admitting to someone I may have been wrong. Why is it so hard to say sorry? Or to even ask why someone is upset? Am I that selfish that I won’t make sure something isn’t my fault?

I am becoming more and more aware that there are habits and perspectives in my life that have to change. And as I stand and stare out, looking at these changes like a small child staring down an elephant, I pray that God will not allow me fall short of the life that He has given me.

Recombobulation

I think its important to approach people as though they’re giving it their best shot. By "it," I mean life, living, breathing, the works. I’ve often been in a position to help people get things in order, and too many times I’ve only made them feel as though they weren’t doing enough. That’s completely backwards.

Tommy used to say that Christianity was easy. "It’s life that’s difficult." I never understood what he meant, until recently. I don’t think he was saying the life of Christ in us is simple. Christ’s life brings suffering, just as a lump of coal must first feel extreme pressure to become a diamond. I’ve heard said, "Surely God didn’t make that awful thing happen. He doesn’t want you to experience pain. God brings peace. God gives healing. He wants us to enjoy life." While its true that God is a healer and He gives us peace, it’s ludicrous to believe that as Christians we won’t suffer. God sent His Son to this world to die on a Cross in a horrible fashion. Why do we think we won’t feel any pain in this world?

I think there’s a serious lack of courage when it comes to reminding our Christian brethren to keep Christ central to their daily existence, but I don’t think we should be eager to tell people they’re falling short, because "all fall short of the glory of God."

It’s important for me to remember that no one has got it all figured out. I forget that sometimes, which is usually a sign that my spiritual pride had raised its ugly head and needs to be dealt with. I’m reminded of a moment in the journey of Jake Barnes:

Perhaps as you went along you did learn something. I did not care what it was all about. All I wanted to know was how to live in it. Maybe if you found out how to live in it you learned from that what it was all about.

Jake was a man who felt like he couldn’t get anything right, as though he was without hope. Yet in the end, he found the only Hope he needed. Its a book I recommend. The how of living is so much more important than the million other things that we try and set up as our focus.

As Christmas closes in, a time that for some is wonderful and simultaneously horrid for many others, I pray that I will remember that God applies pressure in order to make us into something more, and that I will be tempered by God’s Spirit so that I know when to lift people up and when to tell them to stand.