Practice Resurrection.

i’m working on a new post with everything that has been stewing in my mind these past 13 weeks, but for now, this is just something james posted on facebook that i really wanted to keep a copy of.

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute.
Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government
and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.

So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it
. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

(Wendell Berry, "The Mad Farmer Liberation Front")

So Barney asked me two weeks ago if I wanted to go to New Comm, and I’m so glad that I went.  his sermon was on Acts 3:11-25, and it was pretty challenging.

It was a sermon on evangelism, on walking AND verbally communicating the story of Jesus, and while we’ve had a lot of evangelism training this quarter, this sermon really made me rethink things, rethink where I was going in some of my relationships, rethink some ideas that have come up this quarter through people or through russian lit (more later).
You can listen to it here (Church without walls week 10 on podcast)

One of the things that Pastor Peter said was that the reason so many people have no hope day after day, morning after morning, is because we don’t fully realize that God has a mission for our lives.  Personally.  There is something EVERY DAY that God wants us to do, a part of his bigger plan.  And every day, if we don’t realize this, then we’re just throwing those days away to something that has NO eternal significance. 

I mean, I’ll be the first to say that’s not the first thing I think of in the morning.  More likely it’s "must.  hit. snooze."  or "that dream was so good!  gotta hang on to it before it disappears…what happened?  who was in it?"  or "ahhh crud it’s already 11:30am?!  i guess I really do need to wake up…"  I don’t jump out of bed and ask myself what incredible things God has in store for that day, what impact today can have on eternity.  And i think it’s because I’m on autopilot all the time. 

This is something that Morsen talked about during Russian Lit (BEST CLASS EVER).  So in Anna Karenina (we read that and Brothers Karamazov), there’s this guy named Stiva, and he cheats on his wife Dolly with the nanny of their children.  And he wakes up one morning, reaches out for his dressing gown like he always does, and his hand swipes at thin air.  It’s only then that he realizes that he’s not in his bed, but he’s sleeping in the study, and then he remembers what happened, how his wife banished him from their bed.  He completely forgot what happened, he completely forgot what circumstances he was living in at that very moment because he was on autopilot.  We’ve programmed so much of our lives into habit–into reaching for our dressing gown, into reaching for the snooze button–that we don’t even think about how to live our lives.  It just happens.  Life happens.  Things happen.  Sh*t happens.

 We take this passive role in which things just happen.  At least, I know I do.  i don’t wake up in the morning and think about the greater plans of God, I think about my sleep.  My alarm clock.  My nice dreams.  I forget about the circumstances in which I’m living, I dont’ anticipate or look forward to how God’s going to use that day to do great things.  It doesn’t even hit me when I’m fully awake, after I’ve brushed my teeth.  it hits me at random times during the day, when God uses random things to speak to me, such as an email, a song, my prayer before lunch.  That prayer before lunch that I do automatically.  That I do out of habit.

It’s not to say that I have no hope since I don’t wake up in the morning and think about God’s plans for my day, but I forget about WHY I have hope.  God’s in the business of changing lives EVERY DAY.  Christianity isn’t this magic thing where the day we decide to be a Christian is the day that we stop lying, the day that we stop being passive aggressive, the day that we love every person we meet.  It’s a constant renewal, a constant process of revision and tiny little improvements.  a constant resurrection.

Christianity, like Morsen said from Brothers K, isn’t about miracles, or big dramatic moments where our lives are instantly changed for the better.  Not all our testimonies begin with a miraculous healing, a waking from the dead, or the casting out of demons.  In fact, in America, a story like that is actually pretty rare.  (i could talk for a while about why I think that is, and why stories like that are more common in places like Inda and Africa) 

If God were to perform a miracle right before your eyes, to heal your sister with leukemia, to make your uncle’s tumor disappear, to wake your grandmother from the dead, is that what you require to believe?  To see with your very own eyes the power of God in a grand scale?  To see something UNDENIABLY God?  If it is, if that’s what you’re waiting for, please don’t wait any longer.  The first miracle Jesus performed (again thanks to Bros K) was turning water to wine.  It’s so insignificant that only John talks about it in chapter 2.  there’s this wedding, and typically people start out by giving their guests the best wine first, because by the time they get a little tipsy they won’t even notice the quality of the wine.   but at the wedding, the hosts run out of wine.  this is really really bad on the hosts’ part.  so Jesus performs his first miracle discretely, so that only the servants, the disciples, and his mom know.  It’s not some huge thing in front of a crowd of people, it’s not a life changing experience for someone, he just keeps the party going.

In those big miracles, the healings and such, these moments that can’t be described by anything other than God’s power, where does your faith come in?  Where can faith come in?  You have to believe in God, because there’s no other viable options.  You’ve lost the freedom of choice.  (When Thomas doesn’t believe that Jesus rose again, he tells Tom to stick his finger in Jesus’ side.  And then Tom believes.  And Christ says "Because you have seen, you believe.  Blessed are those that have not seen and yet believe."  John 20:29)  God doesn’t force himself on people.  He doesn’t want you to believe because you have to.  He wants you to believe because you CHOOSE to.  You’ve taken an active role.  You’re not letting something happen to you, you are taking an active step towards God.

And this active step shouldn’t just happen once, and then you can have a beautiful, perfect relationship with God.  This active step happens day by day, in every one of the thousands of choices that we make every day.  This is where our relationship with God is built, this is where our lives are given meaning and purpose.  To live for God in every instance, in every moment, with every breath…this is what God asks of us.  This is what Christianity is. 

And that’s why, when I wake up and am already on autopilot, this is why I don’t think about the ways in which God will work automatically.  It’s because I’ve already programmed certain choices in my life, and I consider God only in the "big" "lifechanging" decisions.  Where to go to college, what position to apply for in MEIV, what kinds of jobs to look for, etc.  But if I were to think of God in every instance, in every decision I make, what should I say to this person, how should I treat them, how can I love them better, how should I respond to my parents after they cook lunch for me, what movie should I watch, what songs should I listen to on the radio, what should I be doing with my money, my life would look so different.

Pastor Peter talked about how God uses changed lives to bring people to him.  And if our lives are truly changed, then it is INEVITABLE that SOMEONE will ask you why you live the life you live.  Why you do the things you do. 
Always be prepared to give an answer for the hope that you have. — 1 Peter 3:15 (paraphrased)
This verse assumes that someone will ask you why you have hope, why your life is so different, so strange, so non-sensical.  And if we’re living our lives for God, decision by decision, it will happen.  Your life won’t make sense to those watching you. 

If you live your life radically for Jesus, if you live a life of utmost simplicity, only spending money where necessary; if you live a life of generosity, tithing and donating to those in need, including friends who don’t have much; if you have inexplicable joy in all circumstances; if you can forgive your friends and family for ways that you feel wronged by them and honestly forget that it ever happened instead of retaliating and wanting to get revenge (even passive aggresive revenge); if you can be joyful and celebrate being single; if you can work hard to mend a broken relationship instead of tossing it out the window and forgetting you were ever friends….people will look at your life and wonder how you can live the way you do.  And you can tell them who gives you that provision to be generous, where your joy comes from, where that love comes from that can forgive people and mend relationships, where your self worth comes from that allows you to be happy with who you are.  God uses it to open doors.

Every decision we make is a decision for Christ.  Each of the 1000’s of decisions that we make EVERY DAY can ultimately point to God if we let it.  I’m not saying it will be easy–because Christ never promised such a thing.  (I mean, we all know how his story ended), but it will be good.
And in all things, we know God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.–Romans 8:28
We have been called not for ourselves here, but for his purpose.  And we know that God’s purpose is only good.  So no matter if these are the hardest days of our lives, if this is the hardest friendship we’ve ever dealt with, if this illness is the hardest thing our family has ever struggled with, if we struggle to make ends meet because our dad is out of a job, we know, we know, that God is doing good work in us.  And it’s how we respond in all the little things that we do every day that makes the difference.

We need to do something EVERY DAY that won’t compute.  Do something every day that only makes sense because of your love for the Lord.  (this is how the poem ties in)  Don’t live for the "quick profit" or the "paid vacation", don’t live the way the world tells you to.  Live the way that Christ tells you to.

Every day do something that won’t compute.  Love the Lord.  Love the world…
Take all you have and BE poor…
Love someone who doesn’t deserve it…
Denounce the government (as exciting as it may be)…
and hope to live in  that free republic for which it stands…
Say that your main crop is the forest that you did not plant, that you will not live to harvest…

Expect the end of the world.  Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasureable.
Be joyful though you have considered all the facts…
Practice resurrection.

. . .

Right now, I’m writing this because I feel that they are truths that people need to hear, and really, I need to affirm these things within myself.  I’m going through a hard time right now with a friend of mine, and I don’t know how the story will end.  And i’m not the only one.  I’ve let him down over the course of the quarter, I’ve been bitter towards him and passive-aggressively seeking revenge for ways that I feel wronged.  And there’s been so much miscommunication between us that sometimes, I just don’t see how we can have a conversation like normal people anymore.  I can literally feel that my heart has grown hard. 

And again, it’s not the result of one thing that happened, of one day that changed the course of my relationship with him forever.  It’s the little things that have happened along the way.  Its the little decisions I’ve made in how I treat him, in how I respond to him.  And sometimes it was intentional.  (that would be the passive aggressive part)  but sometimes it was truly and honestly a result of me being on autopilot.  Of picking which emails to read out of habit, and saving others for later.  Of going to work, meetings, large group, bible study, as scheduled, and not thinking about those people that i haven’t had a decent conversation with in weeks, and neither of us doing anything about it.

And yet, as much as I know all of this, as much as I try to remind myself of these things, i still find myself frustrated with him, with the situation at times.  But isn’t it to be expected?  If something took these past few months to turn sour, if my heart took these last few months to become bitter, how can I simply expect this knowledge to make me do a 180?  How can I expect to be Mother Theresa overnight?  It’s going to take time for my heart to soften, for me to treat this person with the love that he deserves. 

Yes, as much as sometimes I don’t want to believe it, he deserves love.  Simply because he was created by God.  He has much to give the world, and God created him with JUST as much love as God created me.  And despite everything that’s going on, we are friends.  I became his friend because I saw something good in him, because I thought he was a good person, someone that I valued.  I just need to remind myself to see it, remind myself to choose to see him the way he was meant to be seen, choose to see him the way I was meant to see him.  i need to hear what he’s saying and take it to heart.  to take the blame for things that i’ve done, and even things i haven’t done.  to ask forgiveness for the things that i’ve done. and to try my best not to just point the finger and blame him for ways that he’s wronged me because it’s so easy to do.  I need to learn to exert patience, I know that my temper is shortest with him.  I need to forgive him for the ways that I’ve been hurt.  I need to let go, to put them as far from me as the east is from the west.  And that, my friend, is SO HARD TO DO.

And i’ve come to realize that there are many friendships in which I’ve let distance come between us.  There are many friends that I used to see  daily, weekly, and now….we meet up once a quarter.  It’s not that I make a conscious decision to only see them once a month, or even less than that, it’s just that i’m on autopilot so much that I don’t think of it.  my life is so scheduled now that i rarely have free time.  haha, that explains why this post is coming at the end of the quarter.  Idon’t even have time to think or reflect, or I don’t make time because i don’t think of it.  So often I’m on cruise control.  I just wish it were as easy as just pushing the button to turn it off, but then where would the fun in life be?  hehe.

there’s so much more I could say in terms of being on autopilot, on being a machine, etc…but i’ll save it for another post.

 but when’s the last time someone has told you that your life makes no sense?  when’s the last time someon has pointed out how backwards your life seems?  how strange and ridiculous you are?  when’s the last time someone’s asked "What’s wrong with you?!" 

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