man what's with all the intense entries lately, eh? you'd think i was dying of a terminal illness or something. not to make light of all that is going on in my spirit of course, because all that is true and genuine--and nothing to be avoided. in fact we probably need to come face to face with that stuff a bit more. the spiritual death is just about as taboo as talking about real death. but the fact also is that my spirit is also experiencing pulses of renewal. i don't know how to write about that quite as well yet, but i think it's coming out in the midst of what i've been writing.
there is so much in life right now. and it is the right kind of fullness. so much crap was pushed out as the season of emptiness endured. still more needs to go of course, but i'm beginning to be filled with such better things. my life isn't so obsessed with myself and how things are affecting me and my relationships and my future anymore (though you might not know it from all this rambling on about myself on here--geez luke get a journal). it is almost that i kinda don't care anymore. not a numbness, but finally an experience of the healthy detachment from the very binding concerns and cares of this world. you can still be very concerned about the world and its state, it just isn't with you at the center of it.
i realize none of this is very revolutionary or profound. it's stuff i've been hearing for years in some ways. but it is so different when you actually are truly experiencing it finally, and yet the words to try to describe it are still the same. how can i make it seem more real to you? what questions can i ask to try to probe the depths of your heart to consider seeing what your life is all about?
i feel like for me it all started with a simple declaration--and i've heard it from others as well. it is a simple prayer:
whatever it takes.
i know i've written about this before. but i keep coming back to it. that was about 6 months ago when a lot of crap was happening. it was the beginning of my beard. i have a lot more perspective now--and not just because of the beard. that prayer will lead you into a lot, probably suffering and pain. because it just so happens for us comfortable americans (and probably everyone really) that's what it takes for us to give up being the lord of our own lives. and to give up our unhealthy attachments and sins. i won't say that you shouldn't fear what God might lead you into, because i know the pain that can come from it. but i don't know how you can call Jesus Lord of your life without really truly praying this prayer. it is what that means. you submit to all. even before you have the chance to make the choice you give up the choice to Jesus. that is Lordship.
it's also connected to the question i asked awhile back "what am i living for?" i still want to write a few entries about things we live for that we shouldn't--so maybe i will get around to that eventually. if we're not living for Jesus what are we living for? and what does that look like? well i think i just told you in the last paragraph!
i kinda find it pretty incredulous that it's taken me so long to come to this point. that it's taken me till 25 with many spiritual books behind me and years of christian school and bible college and ministry jobs to finally realize that being a christian is about giving away your life. like i said, i probably could have expressed that before in words--but i'd never really truly experienced it. somewhere along the line it got all messed up, this christianity thing and how we do it and see it and describe it. it's become about me getting saved, me living better, me doing the things to grow (aka bettering myself). we spiritualize it by saying that God wants to give you the desires of your heart. that may be true, but God is probably not satisfied with quite a lot of those desires. he needs to do the character and the heart in you work first. because it can't be about what you're receiving.
we are so steeped in selfishness that we don't even see half of the selfish things we do as so. it's just the norm. but what if christianity really was about the idea that "my life is not my own." and that to follow Jesus it really takes leaving everything behind (read the gospels). what if that was the gospel we preached? we might have far fewer "christians" out there, but then again maybe we wouldn't--because things would be vastly different all around. and perhaps then people would be able to see a culture where life has true meaning, and the idea of losing oneself would actually be incredibly appealing. it would not be for just the few saints. oh no. we can all live that life. and all the blood sweat and tears that it takes to get there--well we would finally understand what they were talking about in the Bible with all that blessed suffering stuff.
if it is better to give than receive, than wouldn't the greatest thing you could give be what is absolute best? and surely isn't that yourself? give yourself away. give your life away. do you believe you can actually do it? God will be faithful to you if you do--don't think you would just hold back later. if you give fully and sincerely now he won't let you later. and you may not like that but you can hold onto hope and belief that it will be worth it. and i believe deeply that it all will be. what else would?
i'll climb down off my soap box now--you probably didn't come here to read a sermon. i didn't sit down intending to write that. i guess i just had all that welling up inside me, because i am so full of joy at the loss of my own life. i can't explain it--though i just spent forever trying to and urging you to do the same. it can seem overwhelming like it's so much. but it is so simple really. all you have to do is pause for a moment now, search your heart, and find your prayer there. say it with your lips. "whatever it takes Lord."