Imagine the Immensity

At_the_Edge_of_the_World Late one night I was reading and thinking about God. I was comparing us to him, as we, human beings, are created in his image. I was imagining the immensity of a being who could feel love for all of the people to ever walk on this planet.

Try to think of your own emotions. When acting, I try to portray an emotion as honestly as possible. It often helps me to analogize the emotion of the character, to an emotion I’m familiar with. The joy of winning a football game, for instance, could be likened to the joy of winning a battle. Though I’ve never been in, let alone won, a  war, I can express a similar emotion to sort of simulate the experience.

There are far more emotions than just joy, though, like love, fear, anger, hate. Depending on the person, each emotion can control that person. A person feeling fear will act irrationally, just as a person feeling love, hate, or anger, would also act irrationally.

That’s because we can’t control our emotions as well as we’d like. I’m sure everyone has, at one point or another, lost their temper, even if it’s just in your thoughts, you’ve been angry and lost control of yourself. I’m not accusing anyone, obviously, I’m just saying it’s part of being in a fallen world.

Now, the strongest of these emotions, in my humble opinion (the author laughs as he types the phrase “in my humble opinion”, knowing full well humility has nothing to do with his opinions) is love. Love is the root for nearly all emotions, if you look for a common denominator. Anger, hate, joy, sadness, all those really can be traced back to love.

Now imagine being in God’s situation. If you believe that God made each person, (which I do) then doesn’t it follow that he loves each person? I think it does 🙂 With that in mind, imagine the emotions that God feels just daily. In one day God deals with countless ups and downs in his emotions.

One could argue that God doesn’t have emotions, but the Bible has verses about his wrath, and love, and joy. I would also conclude, since people are so emotional, and they are made in his image, that he is an emotional being as well.

Each day we are faced with decisions. C.S. Lewis believed that we have a central self, and each decision we make moves us closer to, or further from, God. Imagine how God feels each time he sees someone make a decision that drives them away from him. Think of the tears he must cry. For each decision! This is not his reaction to the general state of humanity, this is for a single lie, for a thought, for a reaction, mere moments, yet I feel sure he cries over each.

God doesn’t just deal with the sadness of the world, and the sickness, but he feels joy with those who feel joy, and he rejoices for each decision that we make that brings us closer to him. These decisions probably bring tears to his eyes as well, but these are tears of joy, cried because he’s bursting with happiness.

I can’t fully realize the emotions God feels. If his joy for the man who says, “Please help me, God,” is higher than heaven, then his anger with Satan must burn hotter than hell. If he cares for each person’s soul individually, then his anger has to be enormous, compounded per individual, growing with each devious prodding of the devil.

His sadness can’t be any less than his anger, in fact, it may be twofold. Each time he sees one of his children hurting, how badly does he hurt? Imagine when someone you love is hurting. He weeps with those who weep, and rejoices with those who rejoice. How sad he must feel for them!

But God doesn’t just laugh and cry like a person in the movie theater. God created time, and therefore exists outside of it, and he is able to laugh with us, cry with us, and at the same time lead us. Each time something happens, God tries to show us something. I think I might have whole other article on that concept, but I’ll write that later 🙂

Any time you’re having a hard time getting through something, know that you’ve got (literally) the biggest cheerleader, who loves and supports you, and is trying to show you the right way, and not only that, but he’s big enough to do that for you, and every other person. His immensity dwarfs your problems. He will always be bigger.

If God is for us, who can be against us?

Heaven and Hell

Heaven_and_Hell_by_RedXen

 

If a man is united with God how could he not live forever? If a man is separated from God, how could he not wither and die? —C. S. Lewis

No argument that is founded on logic can answer those questions. Our relationship with God is our eternity.

Heaven, simply put, is a oneness with God. There is no doubting yourself, there is no questioning him. Everything is set so you can be the person you were meant to be. You also get a relationship with the maker of the universe, so, there’s that, too.

Hell is the opposite. Hell is life with no God. For real. You aren’t pretending there’s no God, God just is not there. It is chaos, it is disorder, it is pain, it is suffering. It’s everything we were not meant to be. All with no hope.

Heaven isn’t a place we earn. Heaven is a place we “inherit” because of a relationship with God. It follows our bond with him. It is the natural course. If you love him, you are bound through eternity to the one who created eternity and you. We don’t inherit it by friending God as if he were on facebook, keeping him in your contacts in case you need him. You need a real relationship founded on trust, and love. It’s not required by rule, but by law. The law of this world. If you’re not united with God, what is keeping you from withering and dying?

Hell is not a place that God sends us. It is a place we send ourselves. When God created us, he gave us the freedom of choice, because otherwise it wouldn’t be an honest relationship if he created us to naturally love him.

Neither Heaven, nor Hell, can be used as a coercive bludgeon in an honest relationship. God doesn’t hold anything over our heads, he simply presents information and allows us to make an informed decision.

We play games with ourselves, though. Our fears of hell drive us to falsify a relationship with God, and our desire for Heaven, without a loving relationship with God, does the same.

Leave it to us to screw up the relationship, right?

Thank God for Jesus, because he’s so much wider than our narrow-mindedness. He’s so much longer than our short-sighted views. So much taller than our shortcomings.

He’s so much more than our less.

Chaos is in the Eye of the Beholder

I realized something: I’m sorta afraid of death.

It made me wonder why. Death is the doorway to heaven. It’s the end of pain, and hardships, the end of imperfections. For those who know they need God (and earnestly seek him) it’s a one-way ticket to eternal happiness.

On the other side of the coin, it’s the end. It’s the dark sucking hole that is impossibly empty. For those who don’t believe, it’s just the end of existence. That doesn’t seem so very bad. You do what you can while you’re here, and when you die, you don’t care, you’re dead.

(Plus there’s Hell, that’s scary, but that’s another article.)

But I realized why it’s scary to us people. Here’s what I think:

I’ve been reading about people and God, more specifically the intimate relationships between individual people and God. In his book The Normal Christian Life, Watchman Nee talks about how living for God is absolute. You don’t act upon your own ambitions any more. You either do, or you don’t.

In a world where your career, or what you’re going to do when you grow up, or how you’re going to support yourself (let alone a family!), are questions weighing down most jobless people, it’s very hard for us to trust in God. Especially because God’s rewards aren’t often physical rewards. His rewards come in spiritual formatting, more regularly. And that software doesn’t compute with our hardware: the physical.

All that to say, people have a hard time surrendering themselves to God, more so when they’re pressured by whatever problem is directly in front of them. They can be forced into having tunnel vision, where they can’t see God and the spiritual aspects of life, because what’s happening in front of their physical being is seemingly more pressing.

When this happens, it becomes even more difficult to let go.

Imagine you’re holding your infant child, and you are going to hand it to your most-trusted friend. You can judge the distance with your eyes. With your arms and hands you can feel their arms wrapping around your child. You reach out slowly, transferring the child into your most-trusted friend’s arms. Piece of cake.

Now imagine your most-trusted friend is invisible. Not only that, you can’t feel him. You cannot sense him. Would you trust yourself to hand over that newborn baby?

I know I wouldn’t. Because, when I let go, I can’t control what happens.

Control is something that we people think we can have. We can’t. Even if you don’t believe in God, you know that each individual has their own choices. They’re all going to choose something. You may be able coordinate large groups of people, maybe even whole countries, but you’ll never be able to control each individual.

When planning a summer BBQ, Sharon can’t make sure Lisa brings the potato salad, that’s up to Lisa, to put in the car and drive the car to Sharon’s. And that’s not to say that it’s up to Lisa entirely, her husband Frank may decide he doesn’t want to share the deliciousness his wife made, or their dog Dennis may not be able to resist the aroma. As you can (hopefully) see, control is impossible. But we like to think it’s not.

This element of chaos, the fact that we don’t have any control, is obvious in trusting God, because he may lead you one way, and then slam the door in your face, in order for you to find the other doorway. His methods aren’t chaotic, they just appear that way to those who are only capable of seeing one side of the story.

For me, personally, it is very hard to trust God. Whether he is asking me to respect my siblings or my parents, or he’s showing me something I’m not sure I want to happen, or even trusting him in the things I do want to happen, that he allows to happen. All these things are difficult, because if they’re out of my hands, I am not sure I’ll get the result that I want.

His will, not ours. That is the hardest part, I believe. What he wants, not what I want.

I think that when you allow the Holy Spirit to be with your spirit, you can be in concordance with God. It is then, and only then. We all act outside of the Spirit, it’s nearly impossible not to, but if we could get to the point where we trust God enough to do all that he says, then we’ll be at a point where the consequences are always for the best, regardless of the immediate affect.

When we can trust God that deeply, death isn’t something to worry about. It’s not something to even think about, because we can’t control it (or anything), and we trust God to know that when he chooses to take us will be for the best.

It’s easy for our spirit to reach this level of trust, but difficult for our soul, our body, to reach this level. And that comes back to my point about the physical being more obvious to us, thus hindering our perception of, and willingness to trust, God.

I don’t think I’m scared anymore. Now, I’m anxious to reach that level of intimacy.

God.

Picture 1God.

The word itself causes conniptions in many circles. Descriptions vary. Relationships vary. Opinions regarding the sacredness of God vary. Love and acceptance of God varies.

One thing remains the same though. God. He never changes, has never changed, will never change. He will always love us. He will always remain, even when our earthly bodies have passed.

God doesn’t vary.

But I was just thinking about God’s enormity. He’s huge. He created an infinite space we aptly named “Space”.  Yeah, infinite. His power is unbelievable. He’s changed sticks into snakes, theoretically by reorganizing the atoms. He could have just created new atoms. He could have preformed an optical illusion. Who knows!!! His wisdom is beyond comprehension. If the old are wise, God is _______. There are no words for his wisdom. He designed a strategy to beat Satan that involved sacrificing his son. He knew exactly who and what he needed, and when he needed them/it to do something or happen. He orchestrated the biggest comeback in history, otherwise known as the Resurrection.

God is amazingly huge and powerful.

Then I thought about how he inhabits my heart. I know not physically, usually, though there’s something to be said (that I’m not going to say) for the Holy Spirit coming into us, and such like, and so forth. But the point is, God is huge and powerful, but he’s so personal, it’s mind-blowing! He wants to know me. He wants to talk with me! He wants to have a relationship with me! He wants to help me! He knows my heart better than I do!!! He’s the one who gives me a smile through a sibling or a stranger. He’s the one who grew the roses along the road of my life. And he gives me the option to stop and sniff them, when I do he shares the moment with me. When I don’t he helps me see the rose and know that he’s still with me.

God is incredibly personal.

I don’t think I’ll ever grasp the entirety of the love that God has for me. I don’t think I know as much as I’ll know later in life. I don’t even think I know five percent of the love. Scratch that. I don’t think you can put percentages on an infinite thing, right? (Ugh, math.) So it’s at least clear to me that if he can forgive me my “trespasses” there’s got to be a whole lot of love for me.

God loves me. (That’s amazing, by the way.)

Then there’s the story of Noah. Now, understand this: I wasn’t there when all the people were abusing their free will, and God made the decision. But I can imagine him being angry. Maybe at first with himself, and then the beautiful people he’d created. Can you imagine the colors you paint, the words you write, the peanut butter you spread, standing up and telling you how to do what you’re doing. The picture wouldn’t be beautiful anymore. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Satan probably enjoyed the desecration and chaos, but God didn’t.

Then his anger would turn to sadness as he realized he needed destroy all of the ruined beings and the earth. Revising a masterpiece (or what you think is one) is never easy. Something you’ve poured yourself into, only to find it’s not right–or perfect–is so disappointing. I can see him pleading with each soul. Knocking on the door of the dead consciences. Begging them to reform. Then realizing what he already knew: They were gone.

God made us in his image. I think our emotions are just shadows and reflections of God’s extraordinary emotions.

Continuing with the flood thread: Can you hear God ordering the waters to come up through the ground and down from the skies, and just crying, adding to the floodwaters.  Sobbing as the people and animals drowned. Wincing as every life is extinguished, groaning as his beautiful trees and flowers and grasses are muddied and choked by the flood. I can see Wisdom up there in heaven consoling him. And God, suddenly realizing he can’t suffer like that again, creating the Rainbow.

God is graceful.

Where do emotions fit into a steady, unchanging God? How does he rule a world full of sin, death, and pain. It’s hard for someone as stubborn and arrogant as me to understand this. I know that he knows best, but… no buts.

God knows best.

Who’s in Charge Here? Part 1

My extensive thoughts are as follows. Thanks for taking the time. Enjoy.

Acts 5:29 reads: “…Peter and the apostles replied, ‘We must obey God rather than human authority.’ ”

That’s what started this little research project. Peter’s statement that God > Man. To put it in context, Peter and the apostles have just been arrested, and are being told not to tell people about God. Peter replies, as shown above, and it ticks the people in authority off.

There is a fine balance between prudent resistance, and full-blown violent rebellion. The difference is clear. Prudently resisting authority is when the people in charge (at least the ones on earth) tell you to do something you know is wrong, or at least believe is wrong. If you have good grounds upon which to base your resistance, then you have your little resistance.

But, when you disagree with the government, leaders of the church, your parents (that applies to me :-), you can’t just barge into their room/house, guns blazing, and mow them down because you disagree. That’s only allowed in the movies. (Not so much the parents part, but…)

Authority is there for a reason. Whenever a collection of people gets together, wether it be voluntary, in the case of a church, or hereditary, in the case of a nation, or a family, there needs to be leaders.

In our country we get to choose our leader every four years. His name is usually Mr. President, and he serves his country by leading it into battle, around the block, or through tough times.

In the body of Christ there is a pastor, and other elders, that lead the church. In the modern age, where the church has become a building, they may do various tasks from organize the schedule, pay the bills, invent small money making schemes to balance out the winter heating bill, and also guide their brothers and sisters in Christ along their walk with Him.

In the family the Dad is on top of the pyramid, with the Mom coming in a close second. Then you have the kids. The Dad’s job, just typically, is to provide money for the family to eat, be clothed, and drink (water, of course). The Mom’s job (again, typically), is to raise the children. Not to say that the Dad can’t help, far from it, but while the Dad is working the Mom’s in charge.

The Kids’ jobs? Do what the parents say. (I don’t care if it’s unfair! Look it up! It’s in the Bible!) 🙂

With all of this in mind, what should we do when it comes down to God v. Human Authority?

I decided to try and find out.

Let’s figure out who we’re dealing with first. In the right corner!… Standing infinite feet tall, and 12 inches more!…Weighing a whopping infinite number of pounds, plus 16 ounces!… the master of all creation!… The creator of all creation for Pete’s sake!… the infinite!… the master of the universe!… GOD!

(Applause, please.)

And in the left corner! Standing anywhere from 4 feet, to 7 feet, tall!… Weighing anywhere from 100 pounds to 600 pounds!… the created!… the finite!… the very short life spanned!… the appointed by God!… man!

Not much comparison, is there? God > man.

In John (19:11), after Pilate tells Jesus he has the power to release him or crucify him, Jesus says to Pilate:

“You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above…”

That’s a big hint that God is in charge. The fact that people are only in charge if he allows it tells me he runs the show. Score one for God. 1-0

Then, right out of the gates in Galatians (1:1) Paul says:

“This is a letter from Paul and apostle. I was not appointed by any group or by human authority. My call is from Jesus Christ himself, and from God the Father who raised Jesus from the dead.”

Paul is saying his authority to write this letter is real. When Jesus calls and says, “Yo, Paul, I need you to write something for me,” Paul, and everyone else, knows that it’s important.

Because God’s in charge. Score another one for the Big Man. 2-0

Now, let’s check out 1 Peter. If you look up 1 Peter, chapter two, in your bible (or someone else’s bible) then you can see that there is actually a section on Respecting People in Authority. Here’s the section (1 Peter 2:13-17):

“For the Lord’s sake, accept all authority–the king as head of state, and the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish all who do wrong, and to honor those who do right.”

(Emphasis mine)

That last part is similar to what I was pointing out earlier. When any group of people congregates, it needs order. Cities have policemen. Countries have their military. The family has a large man with lots of PSE (Potential Spanking Energy) known as “dad”. So, someone has to be in charge, otherwise there isn’t anything to be in charge of. But, I digress.                It continues:

“It is God’s will that your good lives should silence those who make foolish accusations against you. You are not slaves; you are free. But your freedom is not an excuse to do evil [rebel violently, etc.]. You are free to live as God’s slaves. Show respect for everyone. Love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear God. Show respect for the king.”

First, I would like to point out the part where it says, “You are free to live as God’s slaves. Show respect for everyone.”

Just to put a little bit of practicality in the mix, let’s play suppose.

Suppose you were God’s butler/maid. Your job is to please him, keep him comfortable, and agree with him. Suppose God has friends over (from what I here, God has a lot of friends), don’t you think he would want you to be nice to them? Don’t you think you would automatically respect them anyway? They’re God’s friends after all. So then, since God made, and loves, everyone, then shouldn’t we respect everyone as our superior?

Just something to think about, as we digress again 🙂

Another thing I wanted to point out was the part where it says, “It’s God’s will that you live good lives to silence those who make foolish accusations against you.”

Let’s play suppose again, shall we?

Suppose the government of your country is accusing you of praying. You have been praying, but it isn’t against the law. “Oh, yes it is. We made that law just last night, believe it or not. What a coincidence. I’ll be darned if I don’t have to haul you away to jail right now.”

First, you’d probably laugh in their faces. 🙂 “That’s ridiculous!” you’d protest. “You can’t do that!”

I think Paul’s point here is that regardless of what the other side does, our godly lives will save us. It’s a little packet of Freeze-Dried Goodness. Just add faith, and everything works out okay.

I’d say that just about evens up the score. A two pointer for man makes it 2-2.

While we’re talking about going to jail for God, I looked that up too: (Col. 1:24)

“I am glad when I suffer for you [Jesus] in my body, for I am completing what remains of Christ’s sufferings for his body, the church.”

That sounds like a pretty noble thing to do, doesn’t it? Suffer for somebody else. That is the single-most greatest thing a man can do. And in this case you’d be suffering for God!

So then why would we fight the government if they throw us in jail. We would then be acting as martyrs, would we not? (I know not technically, but in the case of Paul, and many others, eventually. This is a good place to put a plug in for Randy Alcorn’s Safely Home. It’s a good book. Go; read it.)

I think that if you found yourself in this situation, it would be wise to have a little faith. I’m am not saying that I would be able to have that faith, but I think it would be better than struggling.

God works all things for the better. (Psst. It’s me the scoreboard. I think that’s 2-3 man.)

And that’s the half! 2-3 man leading God. Don’t go away! Second half, coming up next.

Shame on Shame!

“A broken ankle gives one a lot of time for reflection,” reflected Ian.

Anyway, Ian’s reflections are being published. Yikes!

Shame. Shame is an interesting thing. I am by no means an expert, but I have opinions, and I am going to boldly share them.

From my experience/observance, shame is a result of sin. Sin is a result of us turning from God, and turning from God is a result of needing love. (Isn’t it ironic that God is Love? And yet we turn from him when in need of love. People aren’t very smart. Even our Ph. D.’s are typically atheistic. Harvard grads, etcetera. Some one with an IQ that high turns from what they’re searching for? Yep.)

Shame is the worst part of sin. It causes depression, self-righteousness, suicidal behaviors, all that stuff that is generally credited to amoral video games, movies, our whole amoral culture for Pete’s sake!

But it seems that it’s deeper. It starts with the conscience. I believe we’ve had one since the “Incident in Eden”. We took what wasn’t ours, and immediately knew it was wrong. When that happened each person has a little Giminy Cricket type spark in their mind. It alerts us when something is wrong, and tells us when we did a good job. It is what makes sinning a conscious thing. We decide to sin, rather than just do it accidentally.

As it is Easter, and I am currently munching on an chocolate Easter egg, I’ll use the chocolate egg analogy.

Let’s say (all great Analogists agree, those words are the key to a good analogy.), that you happen upon a chocolate egg. Not seeing any identification, and realizing this egg isn’t of great monetary significance, (or any other significance, for that matter,) you unwrap it and start eating.

Then you find that it was your friend’s egg. Thus you “stole” it from him. Unwittingly, and unmaliciously. I believe that because you didn’t know that it was wrong, it wasn’t wrong.

I completely understand that this conclusion from that is a dangerous rope to dangle from. But, if the  Egg-eater ate the egg, and then was told it wasn’t his, he wouldn’t be guilty of stealing, would he? He would most likely have to replace the object in question, but the effects of shame wouldn’t be the same.

Thusly, I think that shame is a qualifier for sin.

Let’s say, that the man had the intentions of stealing a chocolate egg. He went to his friends house, where his friend was fondly cradling his chocolate egg. He rips it out of his friends hand, and his friend trips and falls trying to grab the egg. He maniacally cackles as he munches the marvelous morsel, in his malicious manor.

Then, later, the shame kicks in. Did I hurt him bad. I didn’t ask if he was okay when he tripped. I shouldn’t have done that! God hates me. My friend hates me. Everyone in the whole stinking universe hates me, and I am never going to be worthy of God’s love!!!!

That last line conveniently sets up this next part.

God’s love is what fixes it all! So when we do something like stealing, the shame tells us, “You aren’t worth your weight in saltine crackers! You are a lousy failure! You couldn’t do a good deed if a good deed did you!” (If you said, “What the heck is that supposed to mean!?” so did the author.)

When that happens, I think the deed causing it (shame) should be classified a sin. Sin is what drives us from God, and when the shame tells us we’re not wanted, that ain’t exactly an invitation to God’s throne.

So then you get to the part where shame is basically controlled by your mind! (Or at least I do. And since I’m the author, so do you! Isn’t this fun 🙂 ) What I mean is, if I don’t think it’s wrong to kill someone, it isn’t a sin. I think that when you’re at that point, the rules of shame don’t apply.

When you can kill, you have buried conscience. Or you have a dead conscience. Thus, the rules of shame have no where to be applied, because there’s no shame to apply them to.

Let’s go back to the list of what happens:

Shame is a result of sin. Sin is a result of us turning from God, and turning from God is a result of needing love. Now, let’s go the other way. Shame results in inferiority complexes, and that results in more sin, because you still don’t have the love you needed, and it keeps going.

With an exception. If you can get past the shame, and admit to God you were wrong, then, it’s all good. God will forgive anything.

My dad has said that, “Almost nothing we do is bad.” He means that the only bad thing is the shame that is caused by us knowing something is bad, and then still doing it.

Shame kills relationships all the time. It’s what creates lies, and it’s what creates hate. Shame is overall not a very good thing.

Shame on Shame.

One Thousand Gifts

I went from being angry to being giddy. In seconds.

I’ve been reading the book, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I have been reading her blog daily for a year or more. She is VERY poetic in her writing, and sometimes that is hard for me… I am very black and white. I like things clearly spelled out 🙂 But time after time I can relate to her mistakes, and I am so encouraged by her perspective  – to keep going, to trust God is in control and loving us through all of this, to just go back and try again.

So I ordered a copy of her first book as a Christmas present to myself last month. I just got it in the mail a couple days ago… it was just released. It is just wonderful.

In the first chapter I grow so close to her. I cry with her. I know her struggles. I know her fear. I know her feeling stuck – then, her friend dares her.

I don’t do dares. Never did. Don’t ever want to.

But this one is different.

I’m not even half way through the book and I’m diving in with my whole heart. The dare – put simply is something like this… Pay attention and keep a list of things you love, or are thankful for. See if you can get to 1,000. Just try it.

OK, I will after I finish the book. After I find a nice new journal to write in… oh, I think I have some extra upstairs in the closet. That will be even better.

But then that night, I cannot sleep. It happens often. Usually I dwell on the things I need to get done, or I can’t figure out, or are really bothering me.

So I remembered how angry I was earlier in the day with 5 of the 6 kids for ALWAYS losing their gloves. Just one of each pair. We have more than 15 lone gloves – no match – no one has any idea where they could be. REALLY??? Not one match? (Well, our 12 year old did have his pair together, they were just soaking wet! So not one of the six had a matching pair of gloves to wear in the very very bitter cold.) Grrrrrrrrrr, that makes me angry.

And then I remember Ann and One Thousdand Gifts.

Pay attention, look and try to see the good all around.

And God showed me the precious little chubby (some not so little or chubby 🙂 hands that fit into the gloves, paired or not. I get to be the Mom of 12 super cute little hands! And I smile. And goodness literally bubbles up inside me.

And so number 1 on my list of 1,000 is tiny cute little hands squishing into gloves.

And my heart heals just a bit. And my expectation of the potential in this exercise explodes!

Number 2 is Ann Voskamp and her love of God and words.

Thank you Ann.

Thank you God.

Can’t wait to see the next 998!

Trusting God

A long time ago we decided to live life differently.  The definition of “differently” continually changes, but along the way has included raising support from friends and family who helped financially free us to work in campus ministry here in New York, and accepting any invitation to come and sing and never ask for money from any of those engagements.

The current version looks a bit different, as I do certainly charge (a specific amount) for what I do, but I am still quite flexible and generous with my time. (Which is perhaps a very different thing?)

Bottom line is, we are happy to trust God to provide for us, instead of trying to do that for ourselves.

Many things have come together recently, however, to help us realize that we are not truly living a life of trusting God to provide for us.

True, we do trust him.  Implicitly.  We credit him for all provisions we receive.  And even when we do not receive what we wish we would have received, we know that He loves us, and that He sees more than we see.  And so we trust Him.

But what Jen and I have both seen—and Jen wisely alerted me to—is that we have been living with a foot in both worlds for some time now.

We have been on the one hand, trusting God to provide whatever he sees fit to provide, but on the other hand – while exercising frugal spending – going ahead of God and his provision, mostly in the form of paying for things we needed (or maybe didn’t?) with credit cards and other loans.

And now, the weight of that burden has caught up with us.

We are at least a month behind on most every monthly bill.  We were warned by our mortgage holder that we were in danger of losing our house (though that has been corrected) and there really is a great, heavy financial burden on both of us at the moment.  Seemingly more than we can work out from under.

We are taking steps to remedy this – including me working extra hours, Jen doing a little work for my dad, I applied for another job, etc – but I think perhaps the biggest step is really choosing what we believe.  And how we want to live.

And that “way” is trusting God to provide for everything we need.  Everything.

So we have decided from here forward to not use credit cards (barring perhaps a life-threatening emergency?) and see where that takes us.  So far, so good.  We have seen God provide tiny bits of cash when we need it, and we are much happier (when we are not thinking about the looming debt that is close behind us) spending the money that we actually have, rather than continuing to go ahead of God and pay bills or buy food or whatever we thought we needed on a credit card.

“What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these [what they will eat, what they will wear], but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

That’s from the end of Matthew 6.  That’s a section of scripture that has always been very close to me, and I think maybe because that’s how God has always wanted me to live.  And the amazing this is, that’s what he wants from Jen, and what we want together.

So, we are embarking on a journey that I know will take us deeper… and actually, other than that we have no idea where it will take us.  Yes, it is frightening in a way… but, not when we remember whom we are trusting, and remember how He loves us, and has taken care of us so far… we know that he always will.

[PS… I do not write any of this to elicit some sort of financial response from anyone who might read this – which includes almost exclusively family and close friends.  Only wanting to share this decision/shift in thinking that seems very important – milestone-ish – in our lives right now.]

Tuna

Tonight we had to eat tuna sandwiches. We have sworn off credit cards here in the Campbell house and are really trusting that God will give us what we need. If we don’t have it… we don’t need it.

So, we have tuna. That makes it tonight’s dinner.

The kids are all cooperating differently. Ian ate it. Kirstie ate it and talked about how she didn’t like it, but she was going to eat it anyway (with a smile!) Julia ate it with mom’s help. Alex is not. (Par for the course with him.)

Should be interesting learning to live on what God gives us. Tuna is only one manifestation of that choice.

So far, so good 🙂