I have been trying to memorize the book of Psalms this year. Let’s just say I am off to a slow start. With 150 Psalms total and 2 memorized, I have got my work cut out for me, seeing that it’s already the second week of February. Memorizing a Psalm provided to be a bit harder than I had expected. I was hoping to fly through three Psalms a week. No chance for that to succeed. Life just got so busy so fast. And as it gets busier, the Psalms, or even the Scripture, become more important for life. I like how Psalm 1 says “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly…but his delight is in the Law of the Lord, and in His Law he meditates day and night.” It is the Law that is important to the blessed man, not all the other distractions of life: money, houses, pleasure, fun, adventure. Not that life’s earthly joys are bad. But if I were to delight in the Word of God, I would “not wither,” but would “bear fruit in…season.” It’s simple to read the Bible. I know that to be very true for my life. But how can I delight in something. It’s not easy to delight in something that points out my faults, that calls me to be humble instead of powerful, that challenges who I am. Yet, that very thing has also given me hope, peace, and love. It’s hard to hold on to those times when Scripture has given me something great to delight in, because life has so many hurdles and obstacles to maneuver. I guess what I am getting is I want to delight in the Word of God, but I don’t know how. I can see how Scripture points to a joyful life for those who delight in the Word. (Look at Ps. 1, 119.)
I have just returned home a mere three hours ago to the world I left for the weekend. The world corrupt and evil, destructive and selfish, easy and filthy. The taste of this place is a sickening one. It reminds me of the taste you get in your mouth when your angry; I must despise this world. I shouldn’t say I despise this world. However, I despise the temptations and the sins that invade me as I seek the face of God, particularly the temptations. But, in reality, it is not the temptations that are hard to resist. It is the willingness in my heart to give up the things I have returned to: lust, apathy, judgment, invulnerability, lying. pleasure. Those things are so comfortable. The comprise my flesh nature, the things most natural to me. If I had my way, if this was my life, I would be living out all of these desires, deceits, and pleasures. However, because I am born again, I am called to surrender these desires and passions and submit to the Father’s will, being filled by the Holy Spirit. Well, that’s easy, right? I wish the letting go was that easy, but it is hard to give up the things that our flesh desires. My flesh and spirit are at war with one another. Two mighty forces pulling and pushing on the choices I make. It is only by the grace of God and the active control of the Spirit in my life that I am ever able to surrender to the will of God.
I wish I could say that things are going ridiculously awesome, but I would be lying, if I did. Not that my life is void of excitement, or of joy, or of memories. The intellectual faculties of my mind have even been churning. I guess, conclusions have not been made; the bubbling, writhing concoction is still mixing.
I have been thinking about a lot of things, for my life has many components: dating, Wesley, Church, intimacy, Jesus, painting, eating, sleeping, so many things. I have to admit, the most delightful and most amiable of all life’s substance currently has been dating. How to explain such a pleasure and joy of human existence? Human life on Earth would not be complete without such a process. I have been dating such a pleasant, sweet, gentle, and caring person, a true delight, if I may. What joy it has brought me, truthfully. As well as joy, she brings excitement. The feeling of excitement people are so familiar with, such as the anticipation of receiving a gift. And the gift once received, how pleasant, how special! The taste of that perfect bite of cheese cake, the first bite. The tastes buds not yet tainted by sugar, the corrosive poison.
…this was written quite a while back…
…it is unedited and I haven’t really read through it…
…however, it could be interesting…
I have been fasting. I should say that I have been poorly fasting what I have been eating. I am supposed to be eating only grains and vegetables and fruit; basically, rice, beans, vegetables, fruit. I feel I should eat simple and be disciplined in a way of simple eating, which, in effect, will help me to achieve simplicity in and devotion to the greater things in my life. Despite my unfaithfulness to this fast, I have been able to learn a lot of things about myself:
I am a worshiper. I love to use my musical talents and gifts to communicate with God. It is a medium which I can use to communicate to the Father. Not that I do not do it just through prayer or through reading of scripture or by fellowship, but I really connect when I am immersed in my abilities and talents for the Father’s sake. I am not perfect: sometimes I enjoy the feeling found in worship. But I try my best to worship the Father and bring him glory in all I do, especially as I user my gifts. I love Him, because He first loved me. He deserves far more than I ever give him.
I have been struggling with a lot of things. Things that disappoint me. Things that shame me. As humans, we can not live in shame. Shame chokes us from the things that are true in life. Shame deprives us from the love that is present in Christ Jesus. I struggle with lust and with arrogance and with pride and with desire for the pleasures of this world. I am a wretch, just a Paul called himself a wretch, unworthy of any human or Godly love. I am ashamed of the things I was and am. But when I excepted Jesus as my savior, I was born again for things greater than this world. I was made for love, for we are called to “do everything in love” (1 Cor. 16:14.) Furthermore, I am called to “put to death whatever belongs to my earthly nature” (Col. 3:5.) And this is what I am doing. I want to live a life in such a way that glorifies the Father. I want to live a life like Paul. I am to live a life where people can imitate my every move and be led into intimacy with Jesus. Courage is my pray. Strength is my prayer. Ability and energy is my desire of the Spirit, to live a life that others may imitate. I am currently unable to draw others into such an imitative dance. But I pray that soon my new self will be real.
“Letting go” has continued to linger in my thoughts lately, as it cuts into every facet of decision making. I’ve called it “letting go” before, but, now, I’d call it a “battle axe against going two directions in life,” which, in fact, is good. Why should I be so adamant on going two places at one time, unable to choose a “better” path? I want to choose two roads rather than one. I get caught up in looking down one as far as I can see, wondering whether or not the destination (that is the outcome) is what I hope for. I mean, this is a plague, a curse I have. I just like to see what I’m getting, right? However, clearly, that is no way to live ones life. Where’s the adventure at? The spontaneity? The hope? The faith? I have found a certain hope, however, as of lately that brings me such promise to rid me of this plaguing illness called doubt and indecisiveness. A hope that if I do choose the path that is, let’s say, a poor path, then God, my Father and my Saviour, will have grace on me, thankfully. So, knowing this grace is freely given, then why should I worry whether path A is better then path B? Both paths are for me, designed by me and purposed for me. Now, to the point and to the furthering dilemma, one path is of the flesh, and one path is of the Spirit. The two cannot be travelled at the same time, for “they[, Spirit and flesh,] are in conflict with each other.” (Galatians 5:17) So, I want the right path, right? Exactly! I want the path that is of the Spirit. But, how do I know if the path is of the Spirit or of the flesh without seeing the destination? Well, I bring this question up to consider “letting go” even further.
I can look as far as I can. I can use instruments to enhance my visual faculties. I can even ask people who have travelled a familiar “road” of its outcome. But despite my efforts, the destination can be found without travelling the road. Wow, Michael, that sounds pretty damn depressing! Well, yes and no. Depressing in a fleshly sense, but so amazing (makes you want to shout) in a Spirit-filled sense. To choose the right path, this decision comes in the actual “letting go.” It sounds bizarre and sounds irresponsible. Great, who cares about responsibility to man, to flesh, to people? My first responsibility is to God. Read it and weep. That is the truth of life. If I seek the Lord, the Kingdom of God, first in my life, then by the renewing of my mind, the path will be unquestionably the right path. My mind will see the other path, although never travelled, and know that the current path is right, because righteousness is not attainable by man. Righteousness is gifted through faith in Jesus. (Philippians 3:8-9) Thus, if I live seeking the Kingdom, then all my paths will be of the Spirit. This is so easy!
Ha. So easy.
I just recently travelled to North Carolina with a friend of mine Stephen. I had planned on going alone; it would have been a real cozy, coming-of-age, personal kind of trip, if I had gone alone. But, travelling with Stephen made it easier, not cozy or coming-of-age. Rather, him travelling along made the trip more inspiring, which, to me, seems far better than the former. In fact, if I had to some up all the mountain views I saw, if I had to sum up all the beautiful trees I came across, if I had to sum up all the gentle creatures that touched me, and if I had to sum up all the whispering cool nights that spoke to me, I would say, “Let go, damnit, and let God show you what He wants you to see.” Let go.
Letting go. As a human, I find this task difficult. I find that I am obsessed with the outcome or the ending, when, instead, I should be much more excited about the events taking place during the action. The middle of a play is far more important than the end, for, in the middle, the audience witnesses the protagonist making his/her climactic decision. Why should I look for the ending, when I can experience the drama? Well, this is typical of me. I do tend to worry over the ending. David Wilcox actually has a pretty sweet song called “Start With The Ending.” It’s kind of my theme song, I guess. “Start with the ending. Get it out of the way,” Wilcox’s enticing, articulate words encourage my cravings. It seems more pleasant to just know the ending. But, look at this way, as a mentor of mine once told me, why would we want to spoil the surprise? Isn’t it better to open your Christmas presents on that blessed morning? Why should we spoil the incredible ecstasy found in the surprise? Shouldn’t this be reason enough to let go? Well, not quite, but it makes me think. And that, I find, is good. Thinking, although I may do it too much, is a good thing.
Now, as this letting go pertains to my Christian walk, or whatever you want to call my stumbling motion in pursuit of Jesus, I have found it to be essential, even elemental, or even elementary. It is rooted in Old and New Testaments. Almost every patriarch or prophet of the Old Testament found his/herself letting go of something. For example, look at Genesis 12:
1 The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. 2 “I will make you into a great nation
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
4 So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him.
Abram was called away from his family, away from his home in the Ur of the Chaldeans, to pursue some God. It is fairly clear to me that he had to let go of the security found in his home and, probably, the security he found in his family. Yes, it’s true he wasted quite a bit of time in Haran in partial disobedience of the Lord, which is really just disobeying. But he did have to let go of something. He eventually was rewarded with the land of Canaan and would be the father of all Jewish people–quite a reward.
So, in letting go, I think, that God rewards us. He sees our passion and our pursuit and our earnest attempt to become more intimate with him. This passion and pursuit opens Gods heart to see our needs, where God can provide for us. Look at the five thousand in Matthew 14. They left their homes, in the city or towns, to follow, to pursue, or to see Jesus. What did they leave behind? One of the most essential parts of living: food. Jesus saw this need as they left even the essentials behind to seek him. And a father cannot see his children hungry, so he fed the multitude. If I let go, my needs will be met. Easier said then done; that is for sure, especially as I live in America, where “comfort is on tap”. (J. Mitchell) If I have a need, a desire, a passion, I can just go get it. It takes money or a little smoothing talking and the thing is mine.
I looked out into the midnight air of Chennai; musky, hot, and poisonous, the air smelled. A cringe in my nose irrupted suddenly. I sneezed. Yet, the dryness of my mouth begged for life as I passed the fruit juice and tea stand; I was later warned to never drink the “fresh” fruit juice. How I longed for a drink? I had chosen not to drink or to eat on the flight from Frankfurt to Chennai: my two previous flights ended with a bad taste in my mouth–that is vomit. So, it is only logical that that I was quite parched, not drinking anything for eight hours.
As I passed the stands and as my thirst alleviated, the shadows took on color as the dim street lights lit up their once silhouetted faces: people, emerging like hidden insects, crawling from their homes. It’s funny, however, that the homes seemed invisible; they emerged from some invisible cloak to greet me. I immediately wondered why they were not at a home, a structure of some sort, in bed asleep. Many were lying on the filthy, cracking concrete. “Why are all these people here?” I asked. “Ow!!!” my mind tensed, as an arrow of truth struck me in the kidney. “They got me!” my mind yelled out for help. The pain quickly ceased as a scorning, mocking voice clouded my thoughts, “This is there home, you idiot!” There home!?! What the hell? How can these people be living like this? in such filth? This was my first taste of poverty–the remnants of vomit tasted far better. It was nothing like poverty in the States. This plague of homelessness was self inflicted, yet the wound was of external origin. I would soon find this truth to be true, for these people chose to be at this airport in Chennai. This residency was there will. Many looked to be taxi drivers and autorichau drivers. The airport was home, work, and leisure, which, as in the States, many Americans do the same with their careers. I say this mocking Americans for greediness and for materialism; I can do this because I put myself through the same suffering of material goods. These Indians were people, just like me, the savior American, come to save India. Boy! was I wrong. I saw that there in Chennai that night–people are people everywhere. We cannot escape our humanness; my money and my good looks could not buy them out of there human state. Our desire to survive and flourish with the means presented us is alike in all people; this would later be affirmed as I bartered in the streets of Chennai.
The team piled into a small bus. The carry-ons we had with us on the plane accompanied us. However, our check bags were still in Frankfurt. (We would later be thanking God for this gift…)