A New World.

The emptiness he felt as he realized he was progressing through realities was hardly veiled by his feigned smile as he answered half a heard question.  She had already asked him the same question twice, and she began to wonder what she was going to have to eat during her break.  Maybe a chicken salad.  He thought loudly about what he wanted to say, but his lungs only spared him enough breath to murmur a bashful request to repeat herself one more time. She felt her throat lock up as she looked at him because something about his self-imposed, incoming reality brushed against her consciousness, and she too realized his predicament.

“I’ll just sell everything.”

She looked at him and understood that perhaps she wasn’t helping his silent conflict by hesitating, and so, she began to search for prices online to determine the price point for the items he was selling.  He watched as she typed and wondered if there was going to be generosity, but of course not. Why would she care? She didn’t know that this was the price he himself chose to pay for his mindless indulgence.  It was only appropriate – and prudent, for he felt his resolve crumbling with every passing customer – that such a matter be handled by someone disinterested in his individual strife. He knew he’d do well to commit the time spent with his past interests to investing in his future pursuits, and yet, something about the departure from a familiar life demanded his sobriety. In all honesty, he was loathe to part with what he spent his previous years investing in, but the practicality of his circumstances was crushing. Without enough money left to invest in a future, what use had he of such things? And so, the poor young man sold what he could in pursuit of himself, hoping he wasn’t chasing after spirits.

The space of a transition forwards to a supposed “good” is, perhaps, the most harrowing of experiences for the young man. Without the confidence he found in the familiar objects of his life, he found himself bare before a world to which he had yet to lay claim; the most horrible condition of his nakedness was the utter suspension of his ability to find a beginning.  Forwards was far from evident, yet backwards was a consistent reality – direction was all but lost to him, which was dangerous in the enterprise he called “pursuit.”

He took the pittance that he received with an affected smile and left, suppressing all the regret of a decision made in favor of uncertainty.

Advertisements

Calling or Comfort?

Most of the people who I hope will read this probably won’t, and the people who have already considered what I am about to say will find, perhaps, an echo of thoughts they’ve already encountered.  Nevertheless, I still have to try to reach the people who are still unaware of where they stand on this issue of calling and comfort.

By the will of God, I’ve chosen to attend the Talbot Philosophical Society (ooh) Boot Camp, which begins this coming Sunday evening.  They’ve asked that we consider reading some of the materials that will be discussed, and so, I’ve had the pleasure of reading a piece by C.S. Lewis called, “The Inner Ring,” which you can read here (I highly suggest reading this before continuing).  The concept of the “inner ring,” as described by Lewis, seems to illustrate how we find our respective places in society; not wanting to be outsiders, we find the “inner ring” of exclusive individuals enticing, and so we strive to be part of that “inner ring.” Lewis hits on this notion of how lusting after being inside the “inner ring,” creates a cycle of rings that we find ourselves outside of – we are never satisfied by the inner rings we’re a part of because the allure was in being outside looking in.  Lewis also mentions another party in this social narrative: those who make their work their end.  He says, “If in your working hours you make the work your end, you will presently find yourself all unawares inside the only circle in your profession that really matters. You will be one of the sound craftsmen, and other sound craftsmen will know it. This group of craftsmen will by no means coincide with the Inner Ring or the Important People or the People in the Know. It will not shape that professional policy or work up that professional influence which fights for the profession as a whole against the public: nor will it lead to those periodic scandals and crises which the Inner Ring produces. But it will do those things which that profession exists to do and will in the long run be responsible for all the respect which that profession in fact enjoys and which the speeches and advertisements cannot maintain.”

So what am I getting at here? How does this apply to the issue of calling and comfort? What Lewis is describing is precisely how many of us might view our relationship with our faith and how it plays into the work that God has given us to do.  In fact, I would be so bold to say that many of us do not consider our faith at all when searching for jobs (this, of course, has been the relevant and pressing issue of my time as a post-undergrad student).  However, I’d like to draw our attention to the fact that the job we work in is our ministry and where we can exercise our faith.  In Colossians 4:17, Paul says, “And say to Archippus, ‘See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.'” Now, I’m not going to risk reading meaning into the Word, but we who believe have all been given a ministry in the Lord in this life, and I am of the mind that the career God provides for us is a sizable part of that ministry.  The question now is: are we choosing our jobs merely to join the comfort of the inner ring of those who have jobs (because we were once the outsiders looking in at those who have already found work), or are we choosing to see the jobs we’re applying for as a part of the ministry that God has provided?  If we choose to see our jobs as part of the ministry, then we will not be subject to the lust of wanting to be inside an “inner ring,” but we will look around us and see faithful servants working in their ministries as well, creating what Lewis calls, “an accidental inner ring.” If we choose to see our jobs as a way of being in the inner ring because we are so fixated on being outside of the inner ring of “those with jobs,” then once we enter that inner ring, we will only find ourselves unsatisfied; once we’ve made it inside the inner ring, we see that the only thing special about it is its exclusion of those who aren’t in it, and so we go to search for other inner rings to be a part of now that the present has been found less than fulfilling.

I’m not going to advise anyone on how we should approach this topic of calling and comfort because, as Lewis intimates, I can’t claim to know the circumstances all of us are going through.  Nevertheless, I will say that to dwell in the peace and joy of work as our calling is to be the “sound craftsmen” that Lewis describes; to simply find comfort in having a job and being a part of that “inner ring” will only lead to, according to Lewis, more inner rings for us to feel less than satisfied in.  May we be faithful in fulfilling the ministry that we have received in the Lord.

Revelations 22: Glory.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”

I have been greatly enjoying this portion of the last chapter of the whole Bible lately since my home church has been going through Revelations as of late, and it’s really provided me with an assurance of the things unseen.  Verse 5 alone has really been a means of lifting my spirits when I feel pressed on all sides; I mean come on! There is going to be a time when there will be no more night, and we won’t need light of lamp or the sun? And why? Because the Lord God will be our light. Does no one else see how ridiculous this is? Not only will we be in God’s presence, but we will be able to see and experience His full glory.  That’s actually breathtaking. Recently, I was meditating on the verse when listening to “The Ascension,” by Phil Wickham.  What struck me most was how many times I’ve sung “Let us start the ascension/Let’s begin the climb/Up this holy mountain/Where Your glory shines/Further up, further in/Just to be with You again/Let us start the ascension,” without truly understanding the glory that will shine as detailed in Revelations 22.  This led me to a deeper appreciation of just how the Word of God makes our experience of God a reality; when we fret about not feeling God or reaching a plateau in our faith, how thirsty for the Word are we? Having experienced both extremes, reading the Bible daily and not reading it, I can say that only when I’m engaged with the text is there revelation regarding who God is.  It’s going to be a short post because I just want to challenge my brothers and sisters reading it, as well as anyone seeking to know more of who God is, believer or otherwise – how full are our conversations with God? In singing worship, what is our experience of the reality of those lyrics?  In our relationship with God, how much of His Word teaches us something fresh of who He is?  The Lord is coming soon, brothers and sisters, and let’s not be found despising His Word to us upon His return.  We can manage at least that, if not more, can’t we?

Anywhere.

There is no home for you here;

every breath is better off drawn elsewhere.

A mountain welcomes a forest fire

with fury its choir

more than home will be to you here.

~

There is no home for him here;

so he leaves, like the wind carried him.

Away he flies,

with tears in his eyes –

where will be home, if not here?

~

There is no home for us here

because we are born from obligation.

So feel free to leave,

and let us be just me;

home is so far from you here.

~

There is no home for them here

where anger resounds every moment.

And if they think loud and clear,

to speak and to hear,

then, they’ll find their home, just not here.

~

There is no home for me here,

but I am grateful for where I am.

It’s not always peaceful,

but one day, I’ll see You –

thank You my home is not here.