His understanding no one can fathom . . .

hubble

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31 NIV)

Tonight I sat in the autumn air and took the time to up look into the night sky and ask myself why I don’t do that more often.  The beauty of a clear night and the reality of sitting underneath a shining constellation of burning light from millions of years ago is a humbling thought.  A lot of people ask me about my faith, my beliefs, my religion, my spirituality, my philosophy, my politic, my worldview etc. and in all of it for me it’s really quite simple:  I believe there is a God and that I’m not Him. 

This passage from the Hebrew Scriptures in Isaiah 40 where the author rests in the mystery that the God of his worship is a God who cannot be completely fathomed by human minds, He is truly other (i.e. Holy).  This was my converting thought into my life of Christ following through the Scriptures.  It wasn’t/isn’t a tradition I came from, it wasn’t a catchy slogan, it wasn’t wrapped in a politic, it wasn’t a program with 3 easy steps . . . it was the thought that I did not bring myself into being and that I’m not alone in this cosmos and life.  There are purposes, there are truths, there are realities that are far beyond me and it’s best if I anchor my perspectives in such places.

This life is a vapor, here one day and gone the next.  Much of what I see when I look around me is such chaos, manic pursuits that yield little to no satisfaction.  It’s when I look up that I find connection to the Divine, to the God who made me and knows my name.  It is in His understandings that I can not fully fathom that I strangely find myself at home in.  This life is just a chapter of a larger story of who I am wrapped up in a Kingdom that never ends.  I sit in awe and wonder at the night sky that is the handiwork of someone eternal, because at a soul level, I am also eternal in Him.

A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Starting with Need

Oh How I Need You Written by: Leslie Jordan, David Leonard, Stu Garrard, Paul Mabury

Lord I find You in the seeking, Lord I find You in the doubt
And to know You is to love, And to know so little else

I need You,Oh how I need You
Oh how I need You,Oh how I need You

Lord I find You in the morning, Lord I seek You every day
And let my life be for Your glory, Woven in Your threads of grace

Light glorious light, I will go where You shine
Break the dawn, crack the skies, Make the way bright before me
In Your light, I will find, All I need, all I need is You

I’m a believer in the idea (much like AA) that wisdom starts with the recognition that I don’t have it all together.  That I’m not ok, that I can’t make it on my own, that I need help.  The storms of life typically will break you down wave by wave until you at least come to that recognition at some point in your life.  The question is, at that point, where do you turn?

There are so many options to choose from for the source of some hope, but are there any that bring satisfaction?  Workaholism, acheivements, sports, entertainment, escapades, religions, music, movements, distractions, vacations, escapes, libations, justice causes, politics, conspicuous consumptions, purchasing, obsessing etc. etc.  When we are looking for all the answers, we have a lot of options to peruse through.  But where do we land in a place of harmony and peace?  Is there anything that answers the door of our soul’s knocking?

This is my approach to my faith and why I have chosen to organize my life around it.  I don’t start with ‘oughts’ and ‘shoulds’, I don’t have a religion to propogate.  All I have is me in need, and that is the place where I meet God.  I come broken, I come open, I come as I am.  I come before the God who made me and I say I need him.

Need is the starting place for a spiritual journey, it might be the beginning of the answers you are looking for, at least is has been for me.  Peace to your journey for the answers.

 

Being Serious about Syria

syria

There is so much emotion, rhetoric and opinion regarding the emerging American military surge to action in Syria and the ongoing human tragedy of their Civil War.  I am not an expert in political foreign policy nor Syrian domestic struggles, though I do understand it’s history. From a political perspective, my leaning is libertarian and to the Constitution our historic leaders have argued for from the beginning.  Declarations of War are not to be taken lightly, they are to be approved only by the checks and balances of the legislative branch and not to be declared unilaterally from the executive.  Our government is designed to make these kinds of decisions within the counsel of the many, not with power in the one.  Executive police actions, in the so-called name of ‘democracy’, outside our borders, in my humble opinion is both unconstitutional and a faulty goal.

My bend is towards the American Christian response to this and other tragedies around the world which reveal a naive and simplistic view of human suffering and the narratives of the Ancient Scriptures.

Time magazine posted this article: “Some Evangelicals See Biblical Prophecy In Syrian Crises”.  I am not at all a fan of Christian fanaticism, nor the narrow interpretation of ancient texts for direct application to American foreign policy as the arm of God in so-called ‘last days’.  I do resonate strongly with what Brueggemann says here:

Walter Brueggemann, professor emeritus of Columbia Theological Seminary and an expert on the book of Isaiah, tells TIME the interpretation of Isaiah 17 as a reference to the current conflict is absurd. “You cannot read the Bible that way. It is an ancient poem about an ancient context,” he said. “If we are going to contemporize it with such an easy connection then we have to learn to read the text against the United States as well because the United States now plays the role of Babylon and all those ancient superpowers. We have to tread very gently about making such silly connections.”

A better interpretation of the passage, Bruggemann explains, would be that all nations are answerable to the God of justice, even  nations like Syria and Babylon. “No nation has high moral ground,” he says. “That is a bite against every exceptionalism, including American exceptionalism.”

I’m a libertarian so I don’t condone an executive unilateral call to the exercise of American military might.  I’m a pacifist so I’m against the use of violence in all cases as the means for peace and prosperity.  I’m not a fundamentalist nor a literalist in my approach to the Ancient Scriptures so I don’t see logical connection between today’s world events and so-called last-days prophecies.  When I read the Scriptures, I don’t see judgments against my ‘enemies’, I see accountability and a call for all of us to act powerfully in self-denial of our lustful urges, to seek peace with all and find the grace and mercy to suffer with others.
The suffering and tragedy happening within the Syrian people is more than I can cope with humanly. I can’t even begin to imagine what they are going through. I hold that evil exists and our world is utterly broken.  I also hold that this is not the end and that even now hope is planted within the blood-soaked soil of a land torn apart.  My response then is to call upon the God of the Scriptures for grace and mercy for my Syrian brothers and sisters.  To boldly ask that same God, “How long oh Lord?  How long must your people suffer?”
For the people and the peace of Syria today, I pray . . .

Adventure for the Rest of Us

longwayround

Been re-watching “Long way Round” with my wife and trying to get in touch with what I like about it so much.  It’s not the motor bikes, truth is I’ve only ever ridden 4 wheelers and motor-skooters, never really been on or around motorcycles.  It’s not Mongolia, Siberia or the Road of Bones in Russia; I’ve traveled all around the world and those areas don’t appeal to me much at all.  I think it’s the sense of freedom and discovery that comes with adventuring off on a path you don’t know how it will end.  I can admire these 2 elites who undoubtedly with Ewan McGregor’s and Charlie Boorman’s network and pocket-book could raise the money needed and take the time off from their day jobs for such a trip.  4 months to travel east via motor-bike from London to New York, a noble adventure.

So what about adventure for the rest of us?  Most of us cannot afford the time or money for such a trip, but yet something in us screams adventure.  Are we wired for our lives of comfort and routine, or are we wired for something more primal?  If I was born 200, 300 ,400 or 1000 years ago, I may have lived in adventure but longed for comforts.  Today I live in suburban comforts of A/C, comfy beds, TV, running water and functioning cars but long for adventure.  Perhaps it is contentment for what we already have that is the hardest reality to accept.  Most certainly some are wired for routine and predictability, others have a thirst for what is beyond the horizon.

There is a time and a place for the stability that comes with being temperate.  There is wisdom and noble duty in being a provider for one’s family, regardless of the nature of the job.  I’ve never really had a career in the American sense of the term, I’ve done what I had to do to fulfill purposes that were not my own and I’m glad I listened to that voice.  I went a road less traveled and it certainly has had it’s pitfalls and adventures, but within it I’ve learned a lot about the beauty of the ordinary and the gift of providing stability.  My wife has taught me a lot in these life values and I’ve grown away from more immature ways of being and leading.  I’m learning to embrace what it means to find most of the marrow of life in the Ordinary.

My natural bend is to adventure, to pioneer, to create, to travel on, to mark trails, to tackle obstacles, to discover new and wonder what is beyond.  So much of our suburban lives wrap us up in cocoons we long to shed.  There is adventure around me in the Ordinary I know I am missing so I am asking for clearer eyes to see.  I don’t want to miss it, life is too short to be another cog in the mythology of the American Dream.  The manic rat-race is not a way to freedom of the soul, its a yoke of burden.  Adventure beckons in many roads less traveled and it’s not just for the cultural elites.  Freedom is accessible for all, I’m on the search for those roads for the rest of us.  I suspect they are planted in the Ordinary paths of life.