Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Only For You

Jesus you called my name
       giving me life again
Forever I'll sing, forever I'll be
       only for you
-- Sam Cox, Newday 2015 
Last night Jesus spoke to me through a dream I woke up with fresh in my mind:

I was preaching at church and it was going well, I was in my stride and making what I felt to be good, points when all of a sudden (for good and legitimate reasons) people began to make their excuses and leave, one by one. Before long I was left preaching to a room of only two or three people; at this point I was faced with a dilemma, do I carry on preaching? I stopped preaching, disheartened by how few people were left in the room.

This is how it can feel in Seaford from time to time, disheartening; this is not due to the people in the church - the people are fantastic. The family of the church are phenomenal and a genuine blessing, but building a church here to a size of sustainability and evangelistic effectiveness is slow going.

But then the image in my dream changed. There was a train on the edge of a platform and a man in the carriage and some of the people who'd been listening to me there was well. The man in the carriage was lacking in personal hygiene and quite obviously poor. One of us offered to wash his feet for him, an activity that was truly disgusting due to the state of his feet; we were left with filthy hands from the job.

Almost instantly the meaning hit me and I woke up with it on my mind; it was as if Jesus himself was speaking to me and reminding me of what he has called me to. I am not/we are not to measure success by the size of the crowd but by the service that's offered. As far as the Lord is concerned (and surely it's his opinion that is important) all we are ever supposed to be are foot washers. We are called to greatness and by his own words, the servant is the greatest.

In this service the smellier the feet the more fragrant the worship offering (literally!); in this service the grimier the task, the more hand-dirtying the task, the more it matters to him. Jesus knew what it was to be adored by crowds and he also knew what it was to preach to a dwindling crowd; yet his measurement for success wasn't in the numbers he spoke to but the faithfulness with which he ministered.

Besides that, if we're honest, it's far harder to wash someone's smelly feet than to speak in front of crowds of people. It's far harder to embrace the path of service than the path of being served!

All of this, all we do (all we have) and all we bring, is always only ever all and only for him; for his eyes only. If it's happiness and contentment I'm after (which it is), then I'm to trust him and live only for him.

I was very encouraged to wake up with this in my mind today. Thank you Jesus my king and my friend. Only for you.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Life IS Boring

When I was a teenager I remember the horrible pressure I felt each Friday & Saturday night to be out doing something AMAZing or HILarious. And I remember the restlessness I'd feel every time I just stayed home; after all, what if people were out having fun and laughing and I wasn't included? What if I was the butt of their joke? What if, by missing the joke, I missed out on learning what people really thought about me? Oh the anxiety and restless turmoil of those stay-at-home Saturday nights. It's safe to say that I don't miss teenagehood.

Times changed, I Uni'd the thirst for parties out of my system and now I have no problem staying in on a weekend; I'm really quite good and vegetating on a sofa in front of a film now.

Times have changed and so has the trigger for those emotions, but the restlessness still surfaces from time to time. Now it's not so much about missing a party but about an opportunity, or not making the most of good health and youth. There is a reluctance in me to admit that life is a lot more mundane than I want it to be. That's really what was going on when I was 18. I refused to admit (it couldn't be true after all) that life wasn't a constant weekend or a daily adrenaline/lust fuelled encounter. My restlessness was a wrestling match between reality and fantasy. I wanted life to be all consuming and intoxicating. I wanted life to exhaust me and exhilarate me and thrill me. Instead it just sort of was. Life just is and I'm a single solitary soul in the middle of an ecosystem that seems able to balance itself and sustain itself each morning just fine without me.

What I mean to say is that I think our need for adventures and for a good story is killing us. It was fine when we weren't individuals like we are now; fine when our lives were connected more to our communities. Now that we're expected to find a story/purpose big enough from within the confines of our own two eyes, I'm not sure we can cope. Individualism and the sovereignty of the individual is leaving red marks on our shoulders; this backpack's too heavy to carry. I certainly can't carry it, I don't think I'm made to.

Left to ourselves, to myselves, life IS boring and we weren't made for boring. There's plenty of wonder and beauty and majesty and adventure in this world, but almost all of it takes place out there; outside ourselves shared with others.

The everyday, regular and mundane is only boring when it's disconnected from any bigger meaning. I only need to 'reinvent' myself if the 'myself' I've invented is detached from the 'ourselves' of community/nation/family. Then again I don't believe that community is enough either. Deriving more meaning from community/family/nation is certainly possible but I don't believe that's enough for us either. We are complex creatures who thirst for purpose and story; unusual since we've convinced ourselves that the thing we thirst for doesn't really exist. It's only when I see my life, and my friends and my virtue and my experiences, as things connected to ultimate reality that I start to discover a story big enough to rid me of the bored restlessness. It's only then that my mundanes turn into memories, my chores become choruses and every routine becomes a worship ritual.

What I'm saying is that our lives (individually) matter to God. Our creator and Father takes delight in, and derives pleasure from us his creatures. He knows about the birds, he calls the sun out each day, he's there with the mountain goats giving birth and he orchestrates the times and seasons of life under the sun. Our lives are not mean simply to become absorbed into nothingness, a corporate faceless, nameless blancmange of vanilla. He made us to be known by him, to know the pleasure he derives from us irrespective of success/achievement. Life may feel random and meaningless but it isn't?

What if it was true that there is a story and a meaning and a reason for everything? Could it be that the reason our soul craves it is because it actually exists? After all, physical hunger exists because food does not in spite of it.

My life matters because God delights in me and my life is an adventure since he's on an adventure and I'm with him. Life is boring when it's about me but it isn't, so it isn't.