i spent this last weekend in oklahoma city, visiting the Refuge once again. i thought i was going there mainly to show it to a new group and that for myself it would be mostly repetitive. i don't know why i thought this. it was such a good encouragement and blessing to be there amongst that community. it is amazing what God has done there. and in the deep recesses of my heart and mind i quietly hope for my own experience--a gift from Him. not for notoriety or acclaim--nor for any sense of personal success or feeling good about myself. no. i want to discover that the kingdom of God is not something to be found only in books or in other countries. i want to believe it is within you and me, and that it has power over the darkness right here and now.
that isn't really what i think of when i think about "church" as we know it. and it's really time that changed.
the church in america believes, "i must increase so that Christ might increase." but we must live and believe that we must decrease so that Christ might increase.
friday night was one of the craziest experiences of my life. i had a dream and a waking vision as i laid in a room that was a concrete expression of transformation and renewal--the crack house now full of Jesus. i saw an angel, going around to each of the rooms with a grail saying "can you drink this cup?" the cup of Christ. the giving up of your life. the crucifixion of your self. the phrase referring to the garden of Christ's struggle and the cup he did not pass, explored beautifully by one of my favorite authors in a book. there was also a dream and a bit more, but that was the center of it all.
can you drink the cup?
what are you holding onto? what about your life is so precious that it cannot be given to the giver of all life? what comforts dictate how you are living? what fears rule you more than you care to admit? what is the use of living life on the fence?
i've seen a lot of my life fall away from me these last, well, couple years i suppose. and i haven't been too happy about it most of the time. yes i have had my share of gains as well, for which i have been joyful over--especially of late. i am in a great community and have some really great new friends. i don't take that for granted at all.
still, i have wanted to live life on my terms--to have it all, to not lose what has meant so much to me. to watch love turn its back and lifelong friends drift away. i'm not good at separation. it is probably what i hate most in life. and no amount of goodness or hope or faith or control or pleading or preparation can keep you from it. that's life. c'est la vie. and we shrug.
yet i believe that some part of my vocation is fixed on fighting the separation we so easily stumble into in this day and age. what that looks like i am not sure. but selfishness, independence, and pride are the major instigators. this western culture is a poison to our souls. how would we know the taste of clean water if all we have drank is dirty?
one step against this i believe is learning to live in community. i mean this spatially and in practice. we will feel alone and abandoned if all we really find love in is one person. sure our family is always there--but that is distant. it is different. and even many of us have been in some way isolated from them in many regards. can we love one another deeply to give our lives to a community? i'm beginning to believe we can.
i'm beginning to find pieces of hope again. i don't know what it is that the Lord has been doing to me these past couple years. i would scarcely know myself from before. i have been put through hell and i'm supposed to be all the better for it, right? otherwise what's the worth of it all, right? tell me that life's worth all the dying you do. the new life is better. we just don't know that for sure. do we really believe that it is? and did we know that losing the old would cost so much? that it would hurt us so? i suppose i should have known death was and is painful. i guess i just thought it would have been a little quicker.
it's amazing how heavy it is at times. and you think you can't make it through any further. but if you haven't come to that place yet then you haven't come to the place of losing yourself, of laying your life in God's hands because you really truly do not believe you can hold it yourself. that the weight will be too much, that the pain will get the better of you, that death just might kill you. it is somewhere in this place where you might begin to hear those words--life's worth all the dying you do. you don't quite believe them perhaps, but enough to find a spark of hope. and maybe that's all you need. maybe that's enough to take that first sip of the cup, and to find that you can drink a little more. and sooner or later you will lose your taste for the sweet comforts of this world. and you will believe that there is something more, and that it's worth giving so much to try to get it.
you can walk that path. you don't want the easy life. it won't satisfy. will the harder one? well. how much is life worth to you? are you willing to risk it? will you take the cup? or will you pass it on to another?
probably the one thing i have been able to say through it all, even when i was questioning perhaps everything else--i mean pretty much everything, was that it is worth it. it is worth it.