"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." - C.S. Lewis
Now don't get me wrong, I love talking about "Jesus stuff" but I would be bummed if y'all thought I created this blog only to share my faith or share my idea on how the world works. And trust me, there are many stories to come that have nothing to do with my opinion on spirituality. BUT... this morning will be about just that; the spiritual stuff. And it won't be a cool, pretty picture. There are things or realizations that I have in life that I cannot simply sweep under the rug. I hope to share some of these with you, not asking you to agree but to maybe think about them on your own terms. This quote rings true for me. I love C.S. Lewis, not just because he writes incredible books but because the things he says make me sit and think. This quote requires some sitting and thinking... my faith is what holds me together; to put it very vaguely. You hear it over and over in Christianity: Jesus teaches us that life has purpose greater than what we can come up with. Whatever I conjure up in my mind pales in comparison to what the Lord intends for me or has created in this universe. Again, these are the things I think about when reading about the life of Jesus. He goes against the grain of society and asks people to look deeper into the meaning of life.
The other night, we were finishing up the semester course at the camp I was working at for about a month. The students were done with exams, everyone was about to part ways for the holidays. It was banquet night. What is that you ask? Well, it's where everyone gets a little fancy (as fancy as fancy gets in the mountains) and there's a ton of delicious food and speeches are given, tears are shed and experiences are relived. There was so much food. Everyone had their plates piled high with wonderful looking chicken, potatoes, carrots and all the other fantastic flavors you could think of for a snazzy dinner. I was joined with coworkers at the table I was seated at and we started the conversation off with plenty of fart jokes and thinking back on funny moments that had taken place in the last month. Then the topic changed... We started talking politics and presidents; the Syrian refugee topic came out and sat in our minds for a bit until something "less depressing" was thrown out to be picked up. I couldn't transition that easy. I was quiet for a bit, thinking about all the lives that were being affected at that exact moment in time. As the thoughts sunk in deeper I looked around at all the smiling faces around me. All the scraps of food and full bellies. What I would give to share a meal with those who are suffering the most right now. We sit here comfortably in America -- gearing up for the holidays and buying so many presents. We hear the news and feel sad for a moment; even feel moved enough to try and help some how but all of that soon passes and we're back to our normal, privileged lives. There are people dying all round, young and old are starving and it's happening all the time. I sat there and stared blankly at my food, wishing so badly that I could offer it to someone who really needed it. Sorry if you thought you were opening this to feel uplifted or encouraged... that's not how I feel as I write these words.
"but because by it I see everything else..."
I see the pain, hurt, suffering and crying. It's like sitting in a dark, cold dungeon with no way out as fear creeps in. But there is something... a purpose I can hold onto. The same kind of purpose Joseph found as he was falsely imprisoned. The hope that God is there, somehow. I trust that the creator of the universe has bigger plans, even though it doesn't makes sense. Please don't think I am belittling the suffering in this world. This idea of God being bigger pisses me off a lot of the time. Why can't we know more? What does the future hold? How many more people have to feel immense pain or have to die? Why is there so much hatred in this world? If you're SO big why can't you just make it all stop? My body crumbles when I see families crying over their dead loved ones. Most of the time I'm left with this heaviness sitting on my shoulders like a million pounds. Why God? My mind flashes to an image of Jesus on the cross yelling "Why have you forsaken me?"
As I ask all of these questions over and over like a skipping record, I get two answers:
1. This is all temporary. (Hebrews 13:14, 2 Corinthians 4:18)
2. My yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:30)
At first, these responses may make you feel even more anger. You say, well that's just bypassing everything or giving excuses; ignoring the problems. But, I ask you to hear me out. I believe we humans are designed for more than just surviving momentarily and then dying. Us comfortable Americans don't face the trials and tribulations that a lot of the world faces, but I believe, that we are designed to care and to love others with such purpose that it can be more than just surviving. We can move into action and our love can be lasting. This world is not going to last forever and death will happen. Though this world is in ruins and is a sad mess, we can have a glimpse of hope in the eternal and a love that surpasses even our own understanding. When I say this is all temporary I hope you don't think I mean live recklessly or with no consequence -- it means the opposite. What do you do that brings meaning to you and those around you? How are you impacting your fellow human? How are you genuinely caring for those closest to you or the strangers you don't even know? How can we live with love and deep purpose? A life that has consequence -- the consequence of not loving or living well. Living to our full potential. Serving people without thinking about what's in it for ourselves. Being "others-focused". Sure this place is temporary, so why not live a radical life of loving the best way you can? And this concept shouldn't only be for the "fellow Christian". I think we're all designed to tap into this ability as humans alike. I can relate this to Jesus and eternal life because that's what truly gives me hope. If you want to talk about that I'm down. But this concept shouldn't only be for one spiritual outlet.
"My yoke is easy and my burden is light" I feel the weight of the hurt in this world often. How I wish so desperately that I could fix it all. Take everyone in and offer them a bed and food -- a safe place. This burden is heavy. I feel overwhelmed and small. Insignificant in my efforts. But Jesus is saying, take my burden... it is easy and light. It's a replacement. Now, this is when I think Christianity can come into play in the most beautiful way. We can see, feel, react to others pain but not hold onto it and let it consume us to the point of breaking, because of who Jesus is. Paul says in his letters to the Galatians, "bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:2) When I read this verse and the previous one from Matthew I personally interpret them in this way: Carry each other, help and be present. Don't let anyone go unnoticed or forgotten -- care for each other. BUT don't try and do it all by yourself. You can't fix anyone. You can recognize pain and help as much as you can but you can't save anyone. Let me, Jesus, the creator of time and space, the author of all that is -- let me be the one to carry the heavy burden you so often feel. Take my burden; one that is easy and light. It's a transfer of weight. We still care and try our best to be intentional in our love and actions but we need to be ready and willing to know we can't fix it all. This gives me hope in humanity and for what is to come. I want to constantly be ready to receive the burdens I'm faced with daily. Whether they're from a close friend, a new acquaintance or a heavy burden dished out by our messed up society. I also want to be equally as ready to transfer that weight to Jesus. Praying and doing my best to help in the ways that I can but not discrediting Christ and his authority.
By Him I see everything else...
I don't have all the answers... at all. I don't know if tomorrow will by my last day on earth. I don't know why somethings happen the way they do and these thoughts aren't going to solve all the problems. I'll still feel heavy at times and I'll for SURE still mess up and get frustrated or not love others well. I will continue to not be perfect at life... I am a human. I hope these ideas don't bring arguments because these are hefty issues that not everyone sees eye to eye on. And sure, I still have a lot to learn and a lot of this can bring bitterness for some rather than hope... and to that, I don't quite have words for you. I would love to talk with you if you feel the need to discuss these topics further. But for me, I can chose daily to make a conscious decision -- see people, care for people. Love them and see them as the Lord does. I feel as though he looks at all of us as if he was an artist stepping back from a painting and marveling over the beauty that sits in front of him. He sees the pain and knows the suffering but tells us to not lose faith. "So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." - 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
May this holiday season be a time of thankfulness, no matter what you celebrate. A time of sharing and a time of prayer and action.