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We Can’t Avoid Pain

I’ve recently been reading the most excellent Dresden Files series (by Jim Butcher), and was gobsmacked by the following:

“Everyone is down on pain, because they forget something important about it: Pain is for the living, only the dead don’t feel it.”

I read this only hours after sitting in church hearing the pastor teach on the true vine, branches, and pruning. It dawned on me that I’d spent an inordinate amount of my life trying to avoid the inevitable: pain. There are times in the past year, or so, where God was simply trying to do what all vinedressers do: prune.

And I tried to avoid it, tried to run from it. Tried to cover it with other things.

It didn’t work out so well. In fact, in trying to avoid pain, I only created more pain for myself and those around me. By avoiding, I only made things worse. Conflict is inevitable, and must be, well, confronted. There’s no way around it. By avoiding the uncomfortable, I set myself up for all kinds of failure.

I’m not saying pain is fun–it hurts!–but it’s a privilege when we consider the alternative: the dead don’t feel it. In point of fact: I don’t want to leave this world with regrets. Things undone, words unsaid, love withheld because it was scary and hard.

Love is pain, my friends. If we are going to love, we will hurt. If we are going to be loved, it will hurt. To shut ourselves off from pain, we (however unintentionally) shut ourselves off from the one thing we all need:

Love.

In Hebrews, it says that the Lord Jesus “learned obedience through those things which he suffered.” If that was true of Him, how much more so of us?

My question to you is:

Is there some pain in your life you’ve been trying to avoid? Trying to cover? What are you going to do to confront it, embrace it, learn from it?

Challenge yourself. You must find that, in your weakness, you are strong.

So, I’ve Been Having This Pity Party

For the last few days. And, man–is it ever ugly. First, my family headed out of town (they deserve it) for a couple days,  and I couldn’t go. Then, there were all of these obligations–my wife had an art class (scheduled months ago), church, etc.

And it was my birthday weekend.

The rational side of me was cool with all of this, but I guess my inner child was feeling forgotten.

I was whiny, petulent, churlish all weekend.

My wife and I finally got to go out last night, and just didn’t go as I’d hoped.

I’m 45 today, and I just feel a little forgotten.

It’s okay, I’ll get over it.

Have a nice rest of your day.

I’m Not A Finisher

I don’t know about you, but I’m good at starting…

But not so good at finishing.

Take a look around my house, and you’ll see ample evidence of this:

An unfinished bathroom floor, a den in a state of disarray, a garage too full of junk.

I don’t know what it is about me, but I start, and then don’t finish–leaving forgotten projects in my wake. I’ve always chalked it up to wanting a new challenge. But I see this even in writing projects:

I start strong, and then peter out. I wish I knew why–so I could combat this monster.

Will you pray for me? I want to be a finisher.

How about you? Are you a finisher?

The Tao of Poo #fb

Maybe I’m odd, but sometimes I think about poop. As a young man, I used to silently laugh at all of the commercials touting the benefits of regularity.

Then I got older.

And realized it’s indeed painfully uncomfortable to be anything other than regular. Now even if fiber is the right thing to do (thanks, Wilford Brimley), this post isn’t really about the health benefits of a morning constitutional (or a high colonic, for that matter). Rather, it’s about those things which emanate from us naturally. Whether that be feces, urine, perspiration, toe cheese, what have you…

Harsh words, slander, backbiting, gossip, anger, bitterness, vengeanace… The list goes on.

There’s a theology to be found in contemplating out natural body processes. Indeed, the simple fact of the matter is that there are things which proceed forth from us quite naturally, and all of which stink. All bespeak of decay, of breakdown, of death. Of our very human condition. C.S. Lewis once wrote of there being a theology of dirty jokes, i.e., the very reason we are uncomfortable with what is very natural, and normal, is because somewhere, on an instinctual level, we realize we are more (as Yoda wisely said) than mere “crude matter.” Luminous beings are we, certainly; yet nevertheless mired in shit. Stained on the inside.

This is the Tao of Poo, natural theology:

Where everything that comes forth naturally from you, me, everybody, stinks to high heaven. This is as immutable as entropy–things wear out, and the center cannot hold…

But for Jesus.

He has come to give us new a life, a new nature, a new heart. This is not natural, but supernatural. It’s not something we can transact on our own. For “there is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end of the ways thereof is death.” Our ways end in death, “but thanks be to God through Jesus Christ Our Lord” who has given us life.

Life eternal, everlasting, neverending. Even so, these bodies will fail, and everyday remind us of their decay. Whether it’s a cut, hunger–or a trip to the restroom–there’s a theology there for all who have ears to hear, and eyes to see.

Life Is What We’re Looking For

The late, great G.K. Chesterton once said that every an who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God. Meaning that that man is looking for something he can’t quite identify, and is trying to assuage this longing with sex. While we may not ever darken the doors of a bordello, we do this, too:

We look for God in things.

I suppose we should back up a bit here, define our terms. What is God? The Bible says that He is love. To which I would add: He is life. As Pascal said, we all come with a “God-shaped blank” in center of our beings.

A whole in our souls.

Thing is, we try to fill this whole with things, with relationships, with sex, with food. Every time I cram two, or three, donuts down my gullet I’m looking for soemthing, I’m believing something:

These will give me life. It’s the same reason I take vitamins: I want more life. When I eat those donuts, or drink that extra beer, I’m trying to fill this perceived lack of life within me. (I’m not here saying that these things are in and of themselves bad).

The problem here is that Christ has already come in, given me (us) life. And yet I still look to things,  to experiences, to fill me.

This is nothing other than idolatry.

Which to my mind is the root of all manner of sins.

We are idolatrous, the lot of us, when we try to find life in anything other than God. I’m not saying the things shouldn’t be enjoyed; rather that they should be enjoyed in the right time, and way.

Where are you finding life today?

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