Thursday, March 24, 2011

To think or not to think

Which yoke is better? The one I carry
or the one these oxen are carrying?
I wish I could turn my brain off sometimes. I think that is part of the reason I go through long seasons where I don't read my Bible because when I do there's just too much to process and too much to be overwhelmed by. When I read my Bible for teaching prep or during the service, I feel like my brain doesn't go 1,000 miles a minute every single day. I am able to engage and wrestle with scripture in the moment, and then just live a blissful Christian existence. When I'm not as invested in reading scripture, I almost feel more freedom in my faith. What I'm starting to realize is that in the freedom there is little growth. I know a lot of people that can experience bliss and growth in their faith at the same time. I'm wondering if I'm one of them?

I say this in the midst of a brain stimulating conversation with a friend who lovingly suggested that maybe I'm a little overcritical. I say this in the midst of reading the Book of Hebrews and having a hard time with some of the theology that challenges my ideas about the relationship between the old covenant and Israel, and the new covenant and the church. I say this in the midst of worrying about the trajectory of the church's theology as a whole. Who in their mid-twenties worries about the trajectory of the theology of the Body of Christ?!?

So, there's this biblical mandate to spend time in the word and commune with God. When I listen to this mandate, I do find life and am reminded of who I am in Christ. But, I also am confused, made to feel uncomfortable, and unsettled. Ignorance is bliss, right? I know that it's not a bliss that is lasting -- it's a bliss that leads me away from the path of abundant life. 

I guess what I'm experiencing is twofold: 1) I'm experiencing that the words of Hebrews is true: "Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Hebrews 4:12, 2) I'm experiencing that the following words of Christ are a unique promise: "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30. While his yoke is easy and his burden is light, there is a yoke and there is a burden. Jesus doesn't promise here that he's getting rid of the yoke or removing our burdens. The burdens we carry are better, but they still exist.

I know that the emotional and spiritual dissonance I experience from thinking too much is a better burden, but sometimes I'd rather change it in for bliss. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Just call me Gandalf

Maggie and I are leading our high school girls group through this book called 7 Secrets to a Health Dating Relationship. It's based off of a passage in Ephesians 5 and the "secrets" are all about being a kind of person and looking for a kind of person. The idea is that if you seek after someone who expresses wisdom, hope, discernment, joy, gratitude, etc. and if you aspire to do the same thing that the relationship will be healthy. 

When we talked about wisdom, we talked about how sometimes when we think of wisdom we get an image in our heads of man like Gandalf - old, bearded, and cryptic with their words. We don't think so much about a teenage girl, or a college aged guy, or a soccer mom. 

I'm helping teach a class at my church. Last week we talked about spiritual gifts and my friend Nancy said that spiritual gifts are a way that God endows us with talents beyond our normal capability. I sometimes feel this way when I teach. I can almost feel it as I'm preparing a talk or a teaching of some sort; that the content I am preparing is beyond me and that God has gifted me in that moment to prepare a lesson. So how does this relate to wisdom?

Over the past couple of years (Brenna, if you're reading this, you started it) some of my friends have used the word 'wise' to describe me. And honestly, it never ceases to amaze me. I guess I just don't think of myself as being a person of wisdom. The cool thing is, that I think that's kind of the point. The fact that I can't conceive of myself as a wise person, and yet my friends see me as one, is evidence to me that God is at work in my life. Unfortunately for me, this wisdom thing seems to be out of my hands. I'm inspired to say certain things at certain times, but other times all I can do is listen. I kind of wish this wisdom thing worked a little more like my brain being shaken up like a magic 8 ball.