Does time ever stop for you? When was the last time you were able to relax and let down your guard? Life is a constant state of change. There is never a moment that we can say “Hold it! Stay right there! Don’t Move!” and make it last. Pictures are great for this but they are more often than not posed or set up. We can mark a milestone with an image but we cannot keep ourselves there in that place.
Life is always in a state of constant flux. We are living on the razors edge. As eternal beings we look forward to places we will get to one day. We have the capacity to comprehend that something lies ahead and if we can manipulate current circumstances enough, we will find something better down the road. We function like this for years sometimes entire careers are spent waiting for the day when…
I had a friend, a good man, he provided for his family, educated himself properly and was by all accounts a successful man. He knew which cars to drive, enjoyed certain sports, had a beautiful home with an amazing yard. The dream life, the right university, the leader among many very intelligent and highly successful people but there was always something askew. He was never satisfied. If you examined his life you would say he had it made. I know he had worked hard and deserved every break and conquered life for all intents and purposes. It was not enough.
My friend was always searching for more, not in a bad way either, not obsessive like you see on a reality hoarder tv show, but just enough that it showed. The grounds around his home had to be perfect, the sports equipment, top of the line and neatly organized. The very newest of the best sports car model always in the garage perfectly waxed. Most would envy the lifestyle of this very good man, he had worked hard and deserved a good life, no one could fault him for taking care of things in an orderly and controlled fashion. The only problem was there was an emptiness that he could not fulfill.
No amount of toys or stuff, or control over our toys or stuff we have accumulated will satisfy the yearning. We can cover it up, that need we have, for always being engaged in something, a phone app, ESPN, a cable news channel, election year politics, Netflix. We all are attempting to fill our lives with something, a distraction, a distraction from the inevitable. Until the day that we must face ourselves and take account.
ὁ δὲ ἀνεξέταστος βίος οὐ βιωτὸς ἀνθρώπῳ
The unexamined life is not worth living
Several years ago now there was a grinding to a halt of the circumstances in my life. I won’t bore you with the gory details here. Nothing earth shattering, no cancer diagnosis, no death of someone near to me, just a blip on the radar of life. A period that drove me to my knees however, and made me reevaluate just what was important. I thank God for that every time I think about it. If you had asked me before was I happy, I would have said yes, but I knew I was way too busy. Was I spiritually fulfilled, of course, I was leading a Sunday School group, doing what I believed God had led me to do, but there was a desire that i didn’t even know existed yet. “Dad”, as my friend Pablo likes to call Him, allowed a certain amount of “life” to happen in order to awaken what was there all along but I had not realized.
Are the tragedies of life, big or small, the only thing that get our full attention? We hear a message or get inspired by a book or something we see, but these are only temporary. We must be renewed. We seek after actions and works that we can perform to try to attain these things, good works, good actions even but to no avail. Then there is Light.
In the darkness we need but one thing, light. The absence of light is darkness, a void, a lack of something essential in order to be fulfilled. Phos like in the word photograph a mapping of what light has done to a piece of chemically treated paper. Illumination, how hard we work to gain illumination, we jump through hoops, complete task lists, set goals even in the hopes that we will acheive illumination and understanding.
I can remember my sixth grade teacher Sister Eileen as she described early people groups trying to seek God. I could not, and apparently still cannot, remove this image from my imagination. During a particular lesson on God and how we simply could not understand him unless he revealed himself, Sister Eileen simply explained to the class that man before God had revealed himself would run around trying to catch lightning bolts in the hopes of understanding Him. I burst out laughing, she laughed also but I could not help myself, all I could see was a half naked cartoon like figure running back and forth trying to capture cartoon shaped lightning bolts. Every once in awhile Zap! Someone would succeed. There would be nothing left but a black sooty spot on the ground where the encounter had occured.
We can be thankful that God does not encounter us in the way of the caveman chasing fire from the sky. He does however enlighten us, but instead of running around half naked searching for the next quick fix, we need to do somehthing a little different than we have been. We almost need to stop trying.
Jesus said many things while he was here, in just a three year ministry He was able to express some very important theological concerns, most of them confounding the theological experts of the day (as well as those of our day). When we look over the entirety of Him as a figure what stands out the most? What one characteristic do even atheists and agnostics see in Him? Jesus was a man of (fill in answer here).
Yes, you guessed it. Peace. What was the symbol of the Jesus movement back in the late 60’s? What has become so iconisized that we still speak it to each other today? The Peace Symbol, two raised fingers each pointing heavenward, so popular it transcends popular culture and is still cool. Don’t we all want it?