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En las Buenas y en las Malas
yes, again. i seem to write about this at all. and, unfortunately, it reaches me at an unfortunate time when i really need to be studying and not writing rambly thoughts about what God might mean about humility. or, more specifically, what he might NOT have meant about humility. anyways. yes, as usual--please read with a big dash of salt and discernment in mind. and, as a warning, the conclusion is not very polished. the urgency of needing to go cram caught up with me.

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If you know me at all, you will know that humility does not come naturally to me. Confidence in myself, in my circumstance, in my learning, in my experience—these are things that I wrestle with daily; things that I must lay at the foot of the Cross, moment by moment.

Even now, as I write these things, I cannot help but wonder if I am being too hard on myself. Surely, I think to myself, surely I must have learned some humility since those early days! Surely I am not still a stubborn-hearted, mule-headed, frigid and immovably proud woman! And, praise the Lord, I can say that I am not. But this is not the journey’s end—oh, how I have learned that this does not mean I have reached our journey’s end.

There are so many ways to “do” humility wrong. You wouldn’t have thunk it, huh? I mean, the choices are fairly limited—arrogance “I can do it on my own, I don’t need God” or humility “I can’t do it on my own, I need God”. An affirmation for the self-sustainer, or a concession that we need God. But there are a lot of ways that we, as imperfect human beings, try to act out this desire to be humble, in all the wrong ways. I know, because I must have done every single one of these at some point in my life. I’m going to consolidate them into two main points, because, well, I really should be studying and not writing.

1. REJECTION - rejecting everything but God (throwing out the baby with the bathwater, if you will)

I’m sure you’ve met people that believe what I used to believe. In order to be humble, we have to reject the idea that we as human beings have any merit at all. We are ugly, dirty sinners. We are worms—no, not even worms; we are dirt, and there is nothing here that is good. So we play down anything that might be good about ourselves, and we reject the praise of others, telling them that they should praise God. “No, don’t thank me, thank God Almighty.”

There are subtle but dangerous lies in this way of thinking. First of all: we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Yes, we sometimes do identify ourselves as one of the lowliest things—but this is in comparison to God, and in our fallen state! It is not a stand-alone understanding of us as human beings. God did not make us worms. He made us His sons and daughters. This is no small thing, my friends!

Yes, apart from God, we are ugly, dirty sinners. But we have been redeemed (Colossians 1:13-14)! Because of Christ’s death and resurrection on the cross, we have been made new (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are certainly not worthless! To ransom us from our sin, Christ paid our worth in blood. That is a rich, costly price! And so each one of us are made in the image of God, and forgiven and paid for by Christ’s blood—certainly, this we cannot reject!

And while it is true, we should not be caught up in receiving praise from our brothers and sisters (which is in itself its own reward, Matthew 6:1, 5, etc), God has given us talents. They are not for us to hide, for fear of being wrongfully praised, but to share, to “invest” (if I may put it so)! Check out Matthew 5:14-30 for the parable of the talents (no pun intended). So it is not in the graciously receiving of praise that we might sin.

2. PATRONIZING - standing firm in our identity in Christ and pitying our neighbours who have not yet reached our enlightened state (yes, a mouthful)

The Bible tells us to love our neighbours and not to cause our brothers (or sisters) to stumble. And also, we are not to judge. So instead, when we see others whose faith is younger than ours, or whose view is different than ours, we think to ourselves—“well, must love, do not cause to stumble, and do not judge”. So instead, we self-righteously suffer through perceived wrongs, we overlook their “minor faults” with the intention to express Christ’s compassion, and we pity greatly and long for the “true redemption” of which ever mistaken brother or sister has crossed our path.

This occurs between individuals, of course, but also at the broader denominational level—our faith is more right than theirs, because they believe this, or because they don’t believe this. Ours is better, and we must do everything we can to convince them they are wrong, and that we are right. It is our responsibility to tell other people they are wrong, because otherwise they will burn in hell, and it will be our fault.

Wow. Sometimes, I read reviews of controversial books online (I don’t know why I read unpublished, individual response-type reviews—they are often good for nothing more than inciting misunderstanding and anger, and, well, you can find lots of #2 on review boards), and people are falling all over themselves with “Oh, honey, you’ve missed the point, and I feel sorry for you. I will pray that God sheds his light on you” and other such statements.

This stuff happens a lot with regard to salvation, too—we debate with each other, this person is not a Christian, this one is, this one is on the fence…we tell ourselves, we need to know so we can minister to them properly.

All of these things bely one main problem: we are in fact leaning on ourselves, and not on Christ. Who brings knowledge and wisdom? Only Christ. And only through Christ can they be found. Paul urged the Ephesians to be united in Christ’s love (Ephesians 4:1-16). The author of Romans models how to live, making exception for one another through Christ’s love, in chapter 14. Over and over, we see that in everything, we do for Christ and through Christ.

We must humble ourselves, as our Heavenly King did, and leave judgement up to God who sends rain on both the good and the evil (Matthew 5:45b). How can we know these things that are between a man or woman and God? We cannot know if our brother or sister is truly saved—and it doesn’t really matter. We cannot save a person, and we cannot condemn a person by what we say or do. It is by God’s grace and that individual’s choice.

So we must do some letting go. Regardless of whether a person is or is not saved, we must still treat them with Christ’s attitude of sacrifice. Disagreements about doctrine must be dealt with patient reasoning and unconditional love. For thus is Christ’s body exemplified—through unification and love.

None of us is greater than the other, and if God has shared special wisdom with one of us, it is to be shared with the utmost humility. If another disagrees, and wishes to contend, this must also be done with both humility and love. If an agreement cannot be made, then we must leave it to God—for who else can judge? And we go on, still, in humility and love, which go hand in hand.

Blah. Okay, now I am reaching the end of my steam, and I really do need to go study. I will leave these half-formed ideas in your hands, reader, and let you stew on them. I know I have left things unaddressed or worse yet, unreferenced. I'll go back later and flesh it out, or you can feel free to tell me what i missed or where i'm wrong. we'll talk. :)

As always, I must remind you that these are merely the thinkings of a regular girl. Are they right? Are they completely wrong? This must be left to you and God—for you to decide, weighed against the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Current Location: back home!
Current Mood: stressed stressed
Current Music: east to west - casting crowns

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turns out starfield's new cd is amazing. here's my favorite track--

in the shadows
i can hear your voice
singing to me

in the valley
i can hear your heart
reaching for me

and i weep
flooded with the strength of your peace

you're my defender
the shield of my heart
you are my hiding place

when terror surrounds me
you keep me from harm
you are my hiding place

in the darkness
i can feel your light
wrap around me

in my suffering
i can feel your joy
rising in me now

and i weep
flooded with the strength of your peace

you're my defender
the shield of my heart
you are my hiding place

when terror surrounds me
you keep me from harm
you are my hiding place

Current Mood: contemplative contemplative
Current Music: starfield - hiding place

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so, i've been saddled with a few difficult decisions (or, more vaguely, just things i feel like i should be decided upon how i feel) lately, and a couple of them have pretty quick expiry dates. and, in my insane rampage to figure out just exactly how i should decide on the things i need to decide, it occurred to me that perhaps the best way to figure out what i would decide is if i knew who i was.

which...i do. don't i?

well. actually, that one sort of threw me for a loop, so i gave it a couple more minutes of thought. it's kind of a simple question, but actually, not really. who am i? i'm christine. i'm 19 and a little more than six months. i enjoy deep fried ice cream and long talks about just about anything. i'm not a fan of activities involving strenuous movement. or...well, movement. i really like God. like, a lot. but...how does this stuff actually help me make real decisions? (sadly, part of growing up means that my decisions will actually matter.)

okay, so: i'm chinese. but not really, i am completely illiterate, and my accent will probably be laughed out of hong kong. even the little old ladies at the dim sum place with like...5 english words drag them out in hopes of communicate with the poor white-washed asian girl. really, i can communicate enough to eat in chinatown. so maybe i'm more canadian. but then again, not really. i really love being canadian. and the more i live here, the more i love canada. but...i don't know. i'm definitely not aboriginal. my parents are first-generation immigrants. yeah. i don't know. however, i am definitely a girl. but that doesn't really mean much, either. i definitely don't feel oppressed as a woman. nor do i feel particularly empowered. But these are just attributes: i also loved playing with toy horses and barbies, weaving tragic romances with my cousin. i love making and perfecting my map of my world that doesn’t exist. to me, things that don’t exist, but that flourish in the imagination, those things are truly beautiful. But again: these things don’t help me when I make decisions. imagination and memory often do little (don’t get me wrong, these things do play some part) in the face of reality, today and tomorrow.

but, maybe, the most important part of my identity is that i follow Christ. now, what does that mean? It means I want to honor Him in all that I choose to do and not do. To be a good steward of what he’s given me, however much or little that is. it means I seek him first and foremost when I want to make a decision, and I measure what I’m about to do against his standards.

when i ask myself who i am in the presence of God, then things begin to take form. God gives me worth. Suddenly, I’m worth something to Someone, and that’s kind of a big deal. it gives me incentive to make the right decision the first time around. God forgives me. so i'm inspired to be humble: if the God of everything can forgive me for the things i've done wrong in my life (and believe me, i’ve done lots wrong), then i definitely can forgive other people. and if i should forgive, then i should not judge. and if i shouldn’t judge, then it seems to me that a humble spirit follows.

okay, so here are the things i've learned to be through Christ’s example: humility, compassion, authenticity, intentionality, patience, peace, and above all things, love—maybe these are the cornerstones i should base my decisions on.

so to sum up, perhaps when we’re trying to figure out who we are, the answers lie somewhere a little deeper than the skin: somewhere in and around the God-shaped Person, maybe.

Current Location: living room
Current Mood: contemplative contemplative
Current Music: some movie

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i suspect i may have speculated on this topic several times before on this blog, and a bazillion times off of it, but it's come up again lately. i've been thinking about this a lot during both my devotions and just randomly throughout the day. i mean, God is this huge sovereign power that exists far beyond the boundaries of our own tiny human comprehension. so how do we come to him in supplication, asking him to intervene, or to show us the way? how do we know his answer?

even after all of this time, it still baffles me to pieces. (is that a saying? i don't think so, lol...) i mean, first, it seems easy, and then it seems not so easy. the good Christianly response is often two-pronged: read the bible, and pray. but what does that mean, exactly? this are some thoughts that i've come up with over the last couple of days.

the bible will give you guidelines on how to live, and yes, to live very well: life to the fullest, in fact. obey and respect your parents and those God has set up in authority above you. don't act maliciously against your neighbour, and always strive to help those who are marginalized, specifically widows and orphans. these are good things, important things. they etch out a framework from which we can set out to live life. it's a little more broad, but it gives us huge clues on how God would have us live.

but there's a little more to this picture: the bible doesn't tell us those important little specifics, like "should i date this particular person?" or "should i go on exchange, and if so, where?" or "where does God want me to be this summer?". so this is when the whole prayer thing comes in: we are supposed to spend time with God daily, getting to know him through both reading the bible AND prayer. and as we get to know him, the dual processes of growing in both wisdom and discernment are also built up. this is done through understanding not only the way God would have us set up or frame our lives (obeying rules like the ten commandments), but also on how he would have us view life and its various issues (growing in understanding of the heart of God).

as we cultivate these things in our lives, it becomes more clear on how we are supposed find out what God wants us to do. first, we have to compare our choices against the plumb-line (is that how you spell it?) that the bible. then we are supposed to compare our choices to what we know about the character of God through prayer and meditation. so...is that it?

i have no idea. apparently, this february has turned into this huge decision-making month for me, and frankly, i feel occasionally overwhelmed by the stuff that i seemingly have to decide fairly quickly. and as i sit here, it occurs to me that perhaps it isn't all just about doing, doing, acting, and making decisions, but also about abiding in patience and faith in the presence of God. instead of letting anxiousness about the future take over, there is a great peace to be found in recognizing and accepting that God knows the way forward, and he is perfectly delighted to lead us on the right paths. so really, there's no need to be anxious about the future.

(at this point i was mildly interrupted so i've lost my train of thought.)

anyways, that's a little something to think about, and also, go listen to delirious?'s "my glorious". wonderful song.

looooove~

Current Music: my glorious - delirious?

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So last night, I attended this debate “Does God Exist?” on campus, and came away with some mixed feelings. After some consideration and discussion, I’m not sure I particularly endorse these sorts of debates as an outreach-type event. While I’ve done it enough times now to know that I can’t put God in a box and say, “no one will ever be transformed by the love of Christ due to their attendence at an academically oriented debate”, I think I might incline that way as far as the general norm goes.

 

I was talking to my roommate post-debate, and she brought up the point that sometimes, Christianity can seem very illogical. We paused for a moment there, and had to clarify. Well, no, Christianity is not an insane religion where people believe in stuff that is completely irrational—but no, Christianity is not a religion that is based firstly on logic. After all, most of us are not deeply specialized scholars, and will never be able to comprehend in any useful way arguments about the fine-tuning of the universe or the historical accuracy of the Bible. We’d have to hear these arguments from specialists, and even then we wouldn’t be able to personally confirm each bit of information. Luckily, these arguments, however good or bad they are, are not the reasons why we believe in Jesus Christ.

 

And even if logic were the centre of our faith, it wouldn’t explain why people do not “convert” to or away from a religion when confronted by superior “evidence”. Perhaps as a community of relatively educated people, we are all a little suspicious about the origin of any information, particularly if we cannot confirm these things ourselves. In that case, the seeming importance of logic is perhaps a remnant of our modern age, but in today’s post-modern, or even post-post-modern reality (depending on which professor you speak to :P), logic plays a far smaller role in every person’s life than many of us would like to admit.

 

I suspect that we would all agree that there is a human instinct that is highly irrational and contrary. If, for example, a person has decided firmly on something for whatever reason (ie. taking notes on laptops is unnecessary, just use pen and paper; or only hymns are appropriate in worship, not these new contemporary songs), it doesn’t really matter the amount of “superior evidence” to the contrary you throw at this person—they are not going to change their mind. This is what we call stubbornness, and even the most enlightened of us aught to recognise this instinct in ourselves and in others. And, in my experience, the more emotionally charged a topic is, the greater the corresponding stubbornness is.

 

After all, if a person is faced with the prospect of admitting the truth of God’s existance, he or she has everything at stake. It isn’t only one or a few compartments of their lives that they would then have to give up; but if God really does exist, and he is who the Christians say he is, then one must give over one’s entire life. If good evidence has been given, then, this ostensible “conversion” should follow logically, if we all believed so strongly in logic and science—but of course, it isn’t that simple.

 

If we look at the biblical account of what’s really at the heart of God, we see lots and lots of relationships. Lots of Jesus kneeling down, looking people in the eye, and redeeming them. But, as it turns out, not that many scientific or philisophical debates. Yeah, he had a few run-ins with the pharasees and other authorities, and effectively rebuked them with intelligent and wise responses, but we don’t see as many transformed lives because of these events. Jesus taught about compassion and mercy, but never gave a lecture about all the logical reasons and proofs that he was the Son of God, and never made this the basis of why people should drop everything and follow him.

 

I think it was at Tenth, once, when the pastor shared with us a study done among people with heart disease. They were told all the facts about their disease, and told that if they made a few changes—eat healthier, get excersise, take these once-a-day pills, that they would be healed. They would return to normal. But, in many cases, upon a return visit, the person’s health had declined because they were unable to make the changes. Even faced with the scientific knowledge of the consequence of failing to change, people didn’t—or couldn’t—change.

 

So how does one come to know Christ? Why do I believe in God, if it isn’t because I can scientifically prove that he exists? Well, it will probably differ depending on who you talk to. But for me, I can say that I know God exists because I have felt his touch, heard his voice, and witnessed the profound changes he has made in my life, for the better. I have a relationship with this Fellow. I’m getting to know him better, even as I get to know myself better. These are things that I cannot account for if I do not believe in God. And if I were a naturalist, I would have to believe in my own experience, and credit myself as an eye-witness of God: he is out there—but even more importantly, he is in here. He’s in my heart. And since I can say, well, God exists, then I can speak out of faith—not blind faith, but faith well-grounded in evidence; confident faith—that the logic and science will come afterward.

 

So I guess what I ultimately got from the debate (which, to be perfectly honest, was not that convincing for either party) was a chance to reflect seriously on the true essence of God’s message, and how I can, as a Christian, proclaim his truths in a way that is both effective and honoring toward him.

Current Location: home-vancity
Current Music: From the Inside Out - Hillsong

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In exactly seven months, I am going to turn twenty. I realize that in the big scheme of things, I’m not really that old, but nevertheless, I can’t help but wonder where all the time has gone. Looking back makes me feel old, because really: twenty years is a very long time.

 

I remember some of the silly things about growing up, things like Megs and I giving our plastic toy horses make-overs: bad idea. Plastic hair looks bad short, and never grows back, and nail polish remover wreaks irreversable havock on figurine paint. I remember sitting outside the church sometime in grade one or two and talking seriously with my girl friends about which boys we should have crushes on. It was all very logical, back then. I remember practically failing a chem exam in grade twelve because Bill asked me to grad five minutes before the test started, and I consequently lost all ability to focus. I was terrible at organic chemistry to start with, so I guess it wasn’t entirely his fault. There are darker memories, too, and of those I won’t say too much—only that, like every other person, they exist for me too.

 

But for all that I have lived (in my opinion) a relatively full and wonderful and friendly life, I can’t help but notice that I’m not very good at keeping the friends that I make. I don’t really keep in touch with friends that circumstance does not put me in touch with, and consequently we drift apart. That makes it more difficult to make contact again, and the distance gets only bigger. It’s a negative feedback loop. Sure, I tell myself plenty of good excuses. And usually, I’m willing to bite no matter how bad the excuse is and let the subject drop, because really, making friends is easy, but keeping friends is really hard work. 

 

Keeping friends is really hard work, and it requires a lot of time. I can hit it off really well with someone, but if I don’t take the time to invest in them, or vice versa, it’s easy to just let the relationship slide. And then, we miss the opportunity to live life along side them through the awkward moments, through the disagreements—the bad alongside the good. If there is no vulnerability and no authentic communication, then there is nothing to lose by just letting them go on their merry way. And, maybe for some people, that’s okay. Touch-and-go friends. New people, all the time, constant change, no stagnation.

 

But I guess I don’t want to be living that way. I got through elementary and junior high and left with half a dozen friends, but I only really keep in touch with two of them. I graduated from high school with lots of friends, as well, but I don’t actually keep in regular contact with any of them. Don’t get me wrong, we are still friends in the “Oh, how are you? I haven’t seen you for so long! Tell me how you have been!” way, but let’s face it: we do not live alongside one another any more, we have less in common every year, and one day, all we will have in common is our memories—and that’s a hard foundation to build a relationship on.

 

I guess to a certain extent, this is a bit like crying over spilled milk—what’s done is done, and in the general case, it can’t be changed. We have all moved on, and to build a relationship now may be an exercise in futility unless the Lord leads that way. The reality is that I was a child then, and I didn’t know any better. But now, things are changing. I recognise the enormous amount of work and time that is involved in building a lasting relationship—but I also begin to understand the value of making a priority out of these things. No, it’s not possible to be best friends with everyone. But it is possible to invest to varying degrees in different people. With the time that I have, I want to be making a positive addition to the lives of my friends, and I want to be someone that keeps in touch even after graduation.

 

A lot of this has to do, again, with being deliberate. Praying carefully, and following the Spirit’s guidance dilligently. Making the best of the time you are given, and being a good steward of it. The longer I live, the more I realize how fragile time is. How, if you even blink carelessly, suddenly you are five years older. So let’s all grasp the time we are given firmly. Use it how you will; only do not waste it, for once it’s gone, it is gone forever.


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Micah 6:8 “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

 

Galatians 2:10 “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.”

 

My roommates and I have discussed it, and we have decided that it is blatantly unfair and frankly unacceptable for our house to sit at a pneumonia-inducing 14 degrees celcius almost every day, at almost all times. It is cruel and unusual to be unable to remove your down coat once in the house for fear of being cold. It is not fair that I have to be wearing six shirts and be contemplating a seventh. It is not right for us to have to sleep with at least three or four shirts, two pairs of pants, three pairs of socks, a toque, and at least five layers of blankets in order to keep warm (and sometimes not succeeding).

 

Cold houses also have other side effects: we feel less inclined to have people over (“Yes, we’d love to have you over for dinner, but we only have seating in the freezer”), we are unable to study because of frozen toes and fingertips (and we really need those to be able to study), we get grouchy (estrogen + no heat = very bad thing), we need to continuously eat in an attempt to generate body warmth (curses, being warm-blooded sometimes sucks), and it’s harder to do everything when you’re cold. Motivation is much less for everything. You know it’s bad when your roommate says hopefully, “Do you want to go to Safeway with me? We can ride the warm, warm bus!”

 

And frankly, being cold makes you feel very wronged. We don’t know who has wronged us, but someone, somewhere, has. Why, God, would you give us such a cold house? We prayed so hard, and were so faithful; why would you seemingly give your children stones instead of bread? It’s not fair. We shouldn’t have to live like this.

 

The other week, I met a man who changed my mind.

 

It was a nice Sunday afternoon, and we were just at Macdonald getting some groceries for Sunday lunch, so me and the girls went over to Tim’s to get some vegetables. We were walking along, when we saw this homeless guy wearing a couple blankets kinda standing outside. I am of course immediately overwhelmed by the various emotions I always experience upon seeing a homeless man (in my own personal experience, they have been almost exclusively male).

 

First, a mild but somewhat disorienting shock, as if he were the first homeless person I’d ever seen. Then, a flashing moment of determined God-shout: DO SOMETHING. This is almost immediately overwhelmed with a mindless panic. What am I supposed to do? I don’t really carry cash that often. And everyone says you’re not supposed to give them money anyways. And let’s face it, I probably have next to nothing in common with them, and frankly, I kind of suck at conversation normally (I think most people think it’s funny so I am able to pass as socially acceptable, but really), never mind when I’m stressed. This panic (yes, I realize some of you will think this is stupid. This is why I used the adjective ‘mindless’; I know it’s stupid) overrides all other functioning parts of my body, and the haze only dissipates once I’ve already walked right by the man without even acknowledging his presence. Maybe somewhere deep inside, I’m a little scared to see someone really there, someone just as in need of love as me, if I really look. But I know doing nothing wrong, so the last feeling on this emotional rollercoaster is guilt. Deep, lingering, heartbreaking guilt.

 

So, anyways. We go in Tim’s. I’m still a little off-kilter due to this jarring intrusion into my happy little Sunday life. I get what I need to, but Steph and B are still wandering around, so I head up to pay. I can’t stop thinking about this guy. I hate it when other people walk by as if they don’t even notice the guy sitting on the street, but I hate it so much more when I do it. Hypocrite, something whispers, and the worst part is, it’s true. So I think about it some more, and realize that I may never have a time as opportune as this. I have some time to go chat with him by myself, and I am secure in the knowledge that as soon as it gets awkward, I can say, “Oh, I better go. My friends are in Tim’s.” So I buy him a chocolate bar on impulse (I later decide maybe chocolate isn’t the best thing I could have got him), and I walk over to introduce myself. I’m feeling awkward, so I end up basically hopping up to him. “Hullo,” I say. “I’m Christine.”

 

His name is Jeremy. He has the most amazingly clear eyes. Now, you might know that I’m more of an eyelash noticer myself, but Jeremy—he has amazing eyes. Oh, something murmurs. There it is. The beauty God put in every person.

 

We shake hands, and I just talk with him for about five minutes. It’s barely been thirty seconds, and I’m already shivering like mad. I stupidly ask him if he’s cold. Well, yeah, he’s cold. He’s been standing at this particular location for only a few hours, but hello, Christine, homeless sort of implies outside 24/7. I ask him what he does at night. He tells me if he makes enough panhandling, he’ll get a room downtown somewhere. If not, he settles down somewhere outside. “Oh,” I say. This is when Becky and Steph come out, and that’s my cue to go. He thanks me for talking to him. He thanks me for stopping to talk. No, I tell him. Thank you. Then I tell him that I hope he gets that room.

 

Well, as it turns out, we got back to Safeway early, and no one else was done shopping. Okay, so I talked to him, and it was good. But I can’t help but feel like there’s more I should do. What could I do? People start trickling out of Safeway, and so we go stand at the bus stop. Yay, lunch. I can’t help but still feel a little deflated. My mind goes over and over it in my mind, and then it clicks.

 

I live in a house. Granted, it is usually 14 degrees in here. But I actually have more than seven shirts that I can wear if I need to. I sleep on a very comfortable mattress, and I do have five layers of blankets. I have a kitchen that is accessible at all times if I need to drink something warm, and I live with three wonderful girls to cheer my spirits when the temperature has me down. And I’m still freezing, all the time. Sometimes I wish someone would stand up for me, and demand justice, stupid as it sounds.

 

But Jeremy lives on the street. It’s maybe 3 or 4 degrees at night, if it’s warm. He sleeps on concrete. He’s already wearing everything he owns. And who cheers him up, when he’s down?

 

It’s amazing how once something becomes clear in your mind, you can’t help but wonder why you couldn’t see it in the first place. Yeah, a living in a cold house sucks. But there are worse things. I grab what cash I have, and I run back to him. I tell him, I’ve changed my mind. I’m crazy, I know what it’s like to live in a cold house. I give him everything I have. Make sure you get a room, I tell him. Then I run back.

 

Maybe we should all be more proactive in seeking justice for our homeless. Maybe we should all show more mercy. Maybe we could spare five minutes to just talk. Yeah, it might be scary and intimidating. Because really, many of us are middle class, twenty-something, poor students. We’re awkward. What do we have in common with them, after all? What would we talk about?

 

It’s silly, looking back, but as I sit here shivering and typing (no happy task, ladies and gentlemen), I can think only one thing.

 

Yeah, our lives might be totally different. It hasn’t been my experience, but I’m sure some guys will not appreciate five minutes of conversation. I might have nothing at all in common with a fellow, but hey—I can identify with a shivering man.

 

 And God can work with that.

 

Current Location: room
Current Mood: cold cold
Current Music: something beautiful - newsboys

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being intentionally and devotedly single has been a really interesting experience. in the general case, it really doesn't feel too different from being unintentionally single. but all the same, it has made a huge difference. 

the biggest thing i've learned, and continue to learn, is the art of putting God first. actually, i haven't got it down to an art yet, and to be honest, i'm not sure i know anyone who can do it on command, either. it's a downright struggle. it is sooo very intensely difficult to do. i always picture Jacob wrestling with the angel, and really, that's how it feels. i wrestle with God, nearly on a daily basis. there are other things i naturally think about. 

i spend a lot of time planning schedules from the very broad down to the minute-to-minute play by play. i think about my friends and how i can benefit them, or sometimes, how i can get what i want from them. (i figure if i'm gonna be honest, may as well be totally honest). i daydream about going home and spending time with the family and my dog. i wistfully make lists of things i want to eat. i brainstorm for programs i want to try to initiate over the summer with my church. i think about boys. i read books, watch tv, study...i do everything that fills up every minute of every hour i have in a day. 

and really, where exactly do i put God first? 

i've found it counterproductive to be thinking about one thing, only to mentally go, "no! no! i will put GOD first! not this. don't think about this!", because typically i end up thinking all about how i shouldn't be thinking about it. that isn't putting God first, in my book. so then, what is? i've been slowly discovering that putting God first is not to make God the one and only thing for which i exist. i CAN plan schedules and simultaneously put God first. i don't have to give up everything in order to show God that i care. in fact, that may be where people go wrong sometimes, thinking that it is honorable to God for us to give up everything.

yeah, if i was faced with the choice, i would give up everything for Christ. beside him, i could all else as loss. but because i am not faced with that strict choice, i am left with an even more difficult choice: will i put God first when I don't have to? 

it's like thinking about wealth: when a person is poor, he/she has no choice but to be responsible with the money--otherwise, the person that will suffer in the end is them. the results are so closely tied to the choice made that it's hard to rationally make the wrong one. but when a person is rich, what is the incentive to be responsible with money? there are simply so many choices that may not be the best choice, but will not really harm you, because you have enough money to smooth almost anything over. 

it seems to me to be fairly similar. God has thankfully blessed me with a wonderful family, good friends, a strong church, a prestigious university to study at, and a brain that isn't hardly as awful as it could be. so i can make choices that are poor, and not necessarily feel the negative consequences. but in this situation of plenty, God is teaching me, through being single and learning to depend on him, about the sufficiency of Christ. about the joy that is found by placing God first. 

i've mentioned a few things that i have been struggling with, but recently in my devotions, this verse popped out at me: (Prov 13:12)

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life." 

now, there are things that i currently desire, things that i sometimes want more than I want to know God and serve him. when i first read this verse, i saw it almost as this "hey, yeah, God doesn't want you to defer your desire. go, pursue it!" but as i meditated more on it, i realized that actually, my heart's desire is to know God. to be in right relationship with Christ. Jesus is my hope, and i should not, and do not, want to defer that in favour of something that is earthly and fleeting. seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you.

God desires to better me, and because of the everlasting love of Christ, i want to serve God. i trust that if i am willing to put him first, he will in his own time give me what i desire, and in this, show both his love and providence for me and my children and all my descendents, just as he promised abraham.

Current Location: home-vancity
Current Mood: contemplative contemplative
Current Music: silence

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what you look at is what you worship, and what you worship is what you become. our speaker at UCM said this tonight, and it's true. i want to seek my humble King. the Lamb of God, led silently and submissively to the slaughter, for my sake. 

i was listening to a friend's situation recently with regards to their interactions with leaders in their particular area of ministry. after an admittedly roundabout train of thought, i settled on this idea of submission: what is it? being a good arts student, of course, i immediately consulted a(n online) dictionary. the first entries said this:

1. an act or instance of submitting
2. the condition of having submitted.
3. submissive conduct or attitude.

...to which i said, "!!!" in my dismay at the lack of usefulness. buuuut, as i kept scrolling down (i was using dictionary.com), i came upon this:

1a. the act of submitting to the power of another "oppression that cannot be overcome does nto give rise to revolt but to submission" (simone weil).
2. the state of being submissive or compliant

...to which i said, "!!!" in my distaste for such a concept. to be perfectly honest, i'm not interested in submitting if it's the be-all end-all and of course the ONLY choice. luckily, scrolling a little further, i came upon something that finally made some sense to me:

1. the act of submitting; usually surrendering power to another
2. the condition of having submitted to control by someone or something else
3. the feeling of patient, submissive humbleness

okay. this, i can work with. anyways, now back to the story.

so, here i am, thinking about how in col 3:18 and throughout the new testament, it says something along the lines of "wives submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord." in bible study this week, we talked about how this command is incomplete with the other half, which says "husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly." we talked about how one is not separable from the other. if one, the other. if not one, not the other. 

but then, here's me thinking: i'm an not-even-20 year old young woman with currently no prospects (1. not currently being noticed by the opposite sex; 2. being intentionally single really blows a hole in things), but i already (to my surprise, actually) struggle with this idea of submission. i thought about it, and honestly, there may not even be half a dozen people i can think of that i would submit to. and that's male and female, both. somewhere deep inside, i feel like i can do it on my own. i hear from God, my relationship with Him is dynamic, so why should i listen to anyone else? it sounds horrible, but somewhere deep down, i feel like i'm better than them. 

and i think that, my friends, is the key. i lack humility. humility isn't just thinking, "oh, compared to God, i am a worm". humilty is a way of life. i often times feel the need to declare justice for myself in every single way. in a group project, i feel like labelling every part of the project that i did so that we all know who did the most work. if someone bumps into me, i glare daggers into the back of their heads as either revenge for them offending my personal space, or i'm offended by their lack of caring about my wellbeing. how rude! I want justice, and i want it now. and why is that? because i think i'm important. i haven't got a servant's humble spirit. i'm not readily forgiving, but i'm always ready to judge. i'm not willing to step out and demand justice to the oppressed--but i think i myself deserve justice. i don't want to overlook my friends' faults--because i feel like they won't overlook my faults, and really, that's what important to me. (AN: read this with heavy sarcasm, ladies and gents. it occured to me the sarcasm doesn't readily translate in print).

so, maybe the reason why i cannot submit is because i do not feel humble before the Almighty God. i find it difficult to recognise and allow every aspect of his greatness saturate my being, so that i would WANT to love, forgive, and overlook for the sake of my brothers and sisters. to seek justice on their behalves, but to forgive and understand when i am overlooked and forgotten. "vengence is mine," saith the Lord. not that i seek vengence--but the Lord acts justly and loves mercy, and he has not forgotten me.

so, here's to humility and submission, as is pleasing to the Lord.

Current Location: as usual
Current Mood: contemplative contemplative
Current Music: In Wonder - Newsboys

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so, my housemates and i are decorating our house, and we're doing these little wall spaces where we put up mini profiles of ourselves. steph drew really cute pictures to put up, and becky cut out all these amazing pictures of stuff from magazines. i put up lots and lots of words. as i put up my words, i thought about the strength of words. the changing power of words. how, if we all used our words first, there would be so much less violence, sadness, and destruction in our world. let's use our words, people. let's not just put up pictures and representations of what we mean--sometimes we misrepresent, or someone misinterprets. instead, let's be clear about what we mean and be careful in what we say. let's use our words.

but today, i had the pleasure and the honor of visiting Coastal church downtown, and the pastor was talking about how important it was to remember those who have gone before us; sacrificed their lives for us, so that we might live the way that we do. and now that i'm sitting back and sitting about it, i do wish he had spoken less, and let us reflect more. that lead me to think about how i myself lead my life--how often do i fill up silences that i perceive as awkward? am i stealing away moments that should be left empty and therefore avaliable for reflection?

in our world, especially in my own personal experience, words are so important. but i have come to recognise that silence is just as powerful as words. that's why we have to be careful not to remain silent when we must speak up--and we should not speak when we should remain silent. i am convinced that there are things that lie too deep in every person's life to express in words. sometimes, there simply are no human words that can express what we feel, and in that moment the best we can do is turn to God and cry out. and sometimes, that crying out is silent.

in most music, particularly orchestra/band music, it's important to play when you are supposed to, and equally important to NOT to play when you aren't supposed to. you should not blare out your own line when you really should play a supporting role to someone else's solo. you should not be afraid to play when it is your turn in the spotlight, and most of all, you should be sensitive to the conductor's guidance.

so, think on it. i'm personally always overwhelmed by remembrance day. this is one thing that in my life, lies too deep for words. but it's important to recognise the importance of silence.

Current Location: my room
Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful
Current Music: 11 o'clock news

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