Update

The phone seems to bring more bad news than good news. As my mom dialed the doctor’s office to hear their “message” for me, I was prepared for the worst, but I tried to focus on how green the trees were. “Just be serene like Jesus was.”

I know that sounds really silly.

Finally, the suspense was over. “Her tests all came out fine,” the lady said, “we just wanted you to know that.”

I smiled, how could I not? I”m not diabetic! At least I think so- you’d think they would have told me, right?

Whatever, if fancy medical tests can’t find anything wrong with me, then I suppose it’s not my place to find out what’s wrong with me either.

What’s there left for me to do? How will I spend my time now that I no longer have much cause to worry about my health? I suppose there’s nothing left to do but praise God and pray for those who really are sick. You know, like I should have been doing all along. Life really is short- if there’s one thing I’ve learned from all this, it’s that I must enjoy the moment- however imperfect, however dull, however fleeting- because I know that one day, I’ll remember fondly the flavor of this time in my life. You know, God willing.

I guess there’s not much time for me to worry about if I’ll be here tomorrow, or twenty years from now, or sixty years from now. Who can know for sure anyway? I’m here now- I guess that’s all that counts.

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A Repose in the Battle

Madness disguises itself as reason

And robs me of my joy, my compassion, and life itself

Passion alone is a dead end

Ruminating is my ruin

The only joy and peace is involuntary

It comes upon me against my will

It laughs at my silly thoughts

And my soul, for an instant, bursts open

 

I’m tired of the wrestling,

I don’t want to play the game anymore

I just want to exist, and feel, and be blessed 

And I don’t care if the best part of me

Is the part that comes not from me

Las Vegas State of Mind

Contrary to what the title of this post might suggest, this is not me in a dark, strange hotel room with a splitting headache wondering how I ever got to this point. But if you know me at all, that is probably obvious.

I went to Vegas as a family vacation/business trip. I was excited because the last time I went on vacation was four years ago, and it was to, you guessed it, Vegas. But you always see things differently when you’re older. I was also a little reluctant because it’s not exactly a holy pilgrimage going over there. 

Although I’d seen the sight before, it didn’t cease to amaze me. One minute you’re in the desert, surrounded by nothing but Joshua trees and interstate and what appears to be the same little mountain over and over again… and then, with not enough warning, you are in the entire world at one time. People from everywhere, beautiful, larger-than-life buildings, eye-catching billboards. 

The buildings really caught my attention. As we drove up to the Bellagio, I was simply breath-taken. All day, I was in a sort of contemplative ecstasy (not because of drugs or alcohol… although I did drink a lot of iced tea). I wanted to take the people around me who looked less-than-content and shake them by the shoulders crying, “Look where you are, man! Isn’t it pretty!” As inconveniences and problems sprang up, as they always do, I was hardly able to muster any negative feelings. When they almost put us in a room with a king bed instead of 2 queen beds, I could only pay attention to how courteous the hotel worker was and how pretty the fake flowers looked. When we got stuck in rush hour on the Las Vegas strip, I could only laugh because it was all so absurd. The chaos, the frustration, the inefficiency (how long it took to go less than a mile)! It was just funny to me. I wonder if my unusual optimism succeeded in cheering up my family members or if it just annoyed them more. 

I guess what I saw was mostly the innocent side of Vegas since I’m not old enough to do the things that most people would consider fun. There were glimpses into the darkness, which I responded to with a strange cocktail of indignation, self-righteousness, pity, and indifference. But these were brief. What I really saw a lot of in Vegas were families. Ordinary tourists. An old man putting an arm around his wife as they filed out of the theater. Two little girls, probably sisters, sharing one small chair, hugging each other. Families clinking glasses at a restaurant. A little girl on her father’s lap. Three generations sharing a buffet, caring for their little baby by bringing him fruit and showing him pictures in a book. Smiling faces standing in front of landmarks. Elevator banter with strangers. In general, people who seemed happier than usual, not unlike me. These scenes of humanity made me feel better about Vegas. Sure, I can’t help but wonder if my joy and theirs was genuine, feigned, or just as real as the Eiffel tower and pyramids there. True joy or intoxication? 

Is it all a dream? Like that show I saw with the water, acrobats, and unexplainably awesome scenery called “O.” You can’t argue that Vegas has an artificial quality, more so than other places. It’s like if you just push it hard enough it’ll fall right down like a cardboard facade. What would it be without the air conditioning and delicate water supply? What would it be without the slot machines and naked girls? How could it have even sprung up without the gangsters?

I suppose that’s a depressing way to look at it. I know I’m an over thinker. But it’s true, and the truth stretches farther than we might think. Many pleasures of this world are fleeting and superficial. But there are some things that are real too, like those precious hugs, laughs and memories shared by families and friends that I was glad to witness. That Jesus billboard north of the strip. 

I can’t help but be reminded of this verse. Jesus and the disciples are walking around, kind of sight-seeing I guess you could say:

24 As Jesus came out of the temple and was going away, his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. Then he asked them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”

I’m not trying to be too prophetic and weird. I guess I’m just saying that while the great buildings of the world may collapse, and while the chocolate fountains and water fountains may run dry… the Kingdom of God is here to stay. 

***

I wonder why it’s been difficult to adjust to ordinary life. I was gone for less then 3 days! Don’t get me wrong, it feels good to breathe fresh air and eat fresh fruit. It’s good to work, to eat cook and eat real food, and be in a place that came about just a little more organically. It’s good to sleep in your own bed and use a shower that makes sense. But why do I feel so strange? Why do I feel that it’s hard to push aside the memories? 

I’m sure that I don’t really want to go back. I’m sure the charm of the place wears off pretty quickly. It’s good to quit while you’re ahead. And a life of idle leisure? That sounds horrible to me!

I’m sure it’ll wear off soon. I guess that’s the price you pay for having fun- it’s hard to do work again. But I believe that it will pass. I believe in the power of the Spirit. I believe that God is everywhere. Even in Vegas. 

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Holy Spirit, Are You There?

I wasn’t supposed to think about God for seven days, in fact, I promised I wouldn’t. I know what you’re thinking, and believe me, I really, really didn’t want to do it. I almost had to.

Of course, the promise didn’t mean much because I still thought about God. How could I not? Hey, don’t think about elephants. What did you just think about? And it goes even deeper than that. You see, I can’t stop thinking about God because I belong to him.

I still felt so guilty. I still felt so bitter. I felt like I’d betrayed God. I feared he was going to abandon me forever. “You’ve made your bed- now go and lie in it.” I feared that I would die before the seven days were up and be cast straight into Hell. 

And yet, here I am. I don’t think God abandoned me, though. I felt His presence. There were moments that I was absolutely certain of HIs existence and infinite significance. Sometimes, you don’t know just how real God is until others oppose you. Sometimes, you don’t realize how ridiculous and fleeting the world is until you watch someone else continually living for it. 

There were other times that the worldliness took over. I found myself wondering if I really would have a better life without thinking about God, as O had tried to convince me. 

Even now, I don’t feel all that spiritual. I don’t feel the guidance of the Holy Spirit as I’m writing this. I don’t feel “abandoned by God,” but I don’t feel filled completely by Him either. And I can’t help but wonder if it has anything to do with my denying Jesus (but if I’m going to use that analogy, God did forgive Peter. I don’t know- just saying). 

But one thing I do know is this- that every decent thing I’ve ever written on this blog was the work of the Spirit. It wasn’t me, my talent, experience, or “wisdom.” God forbid that I should be prideful or smug! It was Him, it was Him all along. I just pressed the keys. 

Oh, Spirit return to me! I’ll do whatever you say! Spirit, where are you? Fill me, please, like you filled the apostles, like you have been filling emptied souls for centuries! Pick up the pieces of my heart! Scrub the filth from my mind! 

O, Spirit, where are you when we fight on the side of the road with our brothers and sisters? Why don’t you whisper in our ear as we whisper filthy gossip into the ears of our friends? Where is your healing touch when we feel jealous or angry? 

Why does the flesh win, Spirit? Why does it constantly hunger and yearn, even when the Spirit is filled? 

Why can’t we walk in our spirits? Why do we ignore, belittle, and defraud our brothers and sisters? Why is there so much tension, drama, and awkwardness when our spirits are all rejoicing together? Why?

 

 

Let’s All Hold Hands and Denounce God (Reflections on College Part 1)

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I survived one quarter of it, but I’ve got to say that I am afraid that I won’t even be able to hang in there, faith wise, that is. I’ve experienced so much already considering the relatively short time that I spend on campus. Let’s just say, I now understand why college kids are abandoning God in droves.

It’s funny, but a lot of the things I was warned about are actually happening. The secularism, the left-wing spin, yes sir, it is all real. My goodness, I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself protesting and smoking weed, or worst of all, listening to folk music. And that stuff isn’t even my style! It’s truly amazing the kind of effect your environment can have on you. But you can’t let them get to you, you just can’t be so pliable. Isn’t it obvious- the former hippies are the new “man!” They’re running the university- but we have no obligation to believe them, we just have to pass their tests. They rebelled against the ideas of the generation before them. We can rebel against them. It’s important to remember that.

In my humanities class, we are reading the Bible for its “historical” blah blah blah. I sit there and listen to them dissect it, call it names, treat it as if it’s just another fictional story. The worst part is, sometimes what they say makes sense.

You have to continually remind yourself that it’s all just their opinion. Man, in his arrogance, thinks he has all the answers, but he doesn’t. Human knowledge has failed on so many occasions. I don’t know if I even need to give examples of that.

Has it occurred to anyone that the Bible seems to contradict itself because we just don’t understand it? Has it occurred to anyone that life itself is contradictory- that so many things cannot be easily explained in words? God told us what He thinks we need to know.

But sadly, even when it seems like I’ve won that particular battle, another one begins. It is not the battle raging in many a dorm room about whether or not God exists and that He inspired the writings of the Bible- it is the question of whether or not any of it matters. It is a question of whether or not I love God. It is a scary question. I hate to even think about it, there is somethings so sinister, so awful, so taboo about the thought of directly rejecting God even when I intuitively know that He exists, and, what’s more, that He wants what is really the best for me and for all us. And yet that is the question that we need to have an answer to, a good, solid answer. I do feel bad for even having doubts about my intentions in life- but I have to remember that this is, after all, spiritual warfare. Maybe it’s better if I let my doubts out in the open instead of shrouding them in indifference. Or maybe it doesn’t matter which path I take, I don’t know. But at the end of the day, we are either for God, or against Him. It doesn’t matter much the reasons- whether “intellectual ” or purely spiritual. We either serve ourselves, man, ultimately Satan- or we serve God. That’s all.

Photo credit: http://www.visajourney.com

One of the Good Days

Last night, in one of those blissful in-between states between being awake and sleeping, the times that I feel most close to God (and now my atheist friends will use this as evidence that belief in God is irrational because I feel closer to Him in a half-conscious state), but I felt that I made a very important connection, or rather God showed me an important connection, and I thought it was so important that I absolutely had to blog about it. It was a spiritual click, something that seemed quite brilliant. And now, I can’t remember it. Well, I hope I remember it if it was important, but if not I’ll leave it at this and talk a bit about my experiences today instead.

So, if you read my blog, you’d probably get the impression that I’m someone who is naturally kind of down, but doesn’t want to be. You would be right. It is part of my nature, but I try to fight against it, even though very often it seems like a loosing battle. But I know that God can defeat my absurd emotions, and I look forward to the victory.

But today was one of the good days, truly. I feel generally happy and fulfilled, like I have a good life and I am grateful for it.

Today just got off to a good start. I woke up early by my biological clock, even though I forgot to set my alarm. I thank God for that now. I had time to make myself look presentable, which is unusual. By the way, I need to go into a thing someday about whether or not makeup and fancy dress is a sin. But I’ll leave that to another day.

The morning commute was manageable, and I made it out alive, so I considered that a success. So I go to my classes, and I am able to focus a little better because I came more prepared. And they seemed like generally productive classes. But here is where the real game changer came in. And I think God put this in my life on purpose.

In my playwriting class, we were asked to write scenarios for possible one-scene plays and share them in class. A scenario is basically an outline of a play. Anyway, one of my classmates scenarios involved a Christian boy and a diva-ish, preppy popular girl who was very ungrateful. She would complain about not having a car and little things like that. Meanwhile, a friend of hers had real problems, like a father who got a heart attack among other tragic incidences. Anyway, after the scenario was read, we talked about it. People in the class expressed how they knew people like the first girl, and how they hated those kinds of people. And that’s when it hit me, that I can be like that sometimes. Not the popular and preppy part, but the ungrateful part. I realized, as I was sitting there “I don’t want to be like that at all.” It’s so counterproductive, not conducive at all to the things that I want to do in life. And how does that reflect on God if I can’t be grateful?

So, things went well after that. I mentioned the campus EV I was going to in my last post. Well, I showed up at the designated area on campus, and there was no one there. So it seemed, but then I saw a boy sitting on a bench. I sensed that he might have been there for the same purpose as me, so I started talking to him and turns out he was leading the EV. He didn’t actually think it would be good to evangelize with me, but he talked to me to get a feel for what I’m about, which is understandable. And then I met someone else from the group. They seemed very nice, maybe a little judgmental about me not going to church, and maybe they emphasize the formal church experience just a little too much, but I understand them, and I think they’re sincere. No one can be perfect, after all, you just pray that we’ll all get a little closer.

So then after that, I had dinner with an old friend and went to see her dorm, which was fun. We went to this thai restaurant on campus. I got curry noodles and thai iced tea, which really helped me power through my last class of the day! It’s also funny how caffeine helps me so much with my self expression skills. It just makes me feel like my brain and my mouth have a much better connection, as opposed to a lot of the time when they don’t seem to communicate that much. I hope one day the Holy Spirit Himself will give me that kind of energy!

Well, I’m very sorry if this seems a lot like a journal, and that I didn’t get to do any actual evangelizing today. Hopefully surrounding people who walked by picked up some snippets. It’s just that I’m happy! No, things are not completely resolved, and no, my life is not perfect, but hey, it’s close enough for me. I can work with this! Yes, God has blessed me and I can more than work with it, I  feel like I can live, like I can go on, and keep on going and thrive forever. I feel self-confidence, can you believe it! I not only know, but at the moment I feel that God created me for a reason. I’m not a worthless, awkward alien, but I’m a human being, a child of God, and so are you.