Yesterday one of my friends asked me if I had time to meet with him. My answer basically reflects one of the core struggles of my life at this moment. I had a similar discussion with my daughter this morning. She seems to be following in the footsteps that I’m modeling.
There is an overwhelming number of things constantly calling for my attention. And it’s really easy for me to believe that I’m the only one that can handle them. That if I don’t react immediately, and correctly, everything will fall apart.
I often feel a bit like a protagonist in one of Greg Berlanti’s Arrowverse shows. Bad things are happening, the city — even the world — is falling apart and <the hero> is the only person who can possibly save the day. And they will do whatever it takes, sacrificing relationships, and working themselves to the bone to accomplish their mission.
If you haven’t seen the Last Jedi, I’m about to give away some significant elements of the plot. Consider yourself warned.
In the film, Poe Dameron is in a similar position. He sees himself as the only person capable of — or perhaps the only person willing to — rescue the rebel alliance from peril. But there’s a problem with his belief system. His commanding officer, Vice Admiral Holdo, tells him to stand down. She has a plan. She will take care of things. He just needs to trust her.
The trouble is, he can’t see that she’s doing anything…
This is my problem as well. I’m not trying to save the world, I’m just trying to make a movie, but I believe it’s important. God keeps telling me to trust him. He has a plan. He will take care of things. But…
If you’ve seen the movie, you know that Poe doesn’t listen. He decides that he’s the only one that can save everyone, and hatches an ill-fated plan to throw his friends into danger and eventually a lot of the people he’s trying to save are killed. It’s not clear that Holdo’s plan would necessarily have worked better. But the implication is strong.
That’s what I told my friend yesterday. I didn’t feel like I had time, but I needed to remind myself that I’m not the savior, Jesus already did that. Making time for friends and relationships is important. Talking with my daughter this morning, and sharing that her struggles are real and that I’m experiencing them as well, that’s important. Sitting down to write this blog today… also important.
I can’t make this movie single-handedly. In fact, I probably can’t make it at all. But my God, the creator of the universe, can do whatever he wants. He told me to do this. So I’m giving it my all. But I have to remember that it doesn’t depend on me. I’m not the only one who can make this work.
My title may be misleading. Poe Dameron is almost certainly not a Christian. But his struggle is a fundamental one for many believers, I think. How do we trust God when things aren’t all going well? When we feel overwhelmed? And it looks like trusting him is a recipe for failure?
I believe that God is trustworthy. Now I just have to live that belief.
Today was one of those days. I took major steps on three major, life-altering projects that crisscross my work and personal lives but are all completely separate.
I won’t lie: I’m overwhelmed. My world is spinning out of control. A lot of it is good. Or at least has the potential to be good. But it’s also horribly scary.
The repercussions of failure in any of these projects would be really crushing.
I feel a bit like a juggler, who has just thrown one too many balls in the air and knows he can’t catch them all, but is determined to maintain the show as long as he can.
Thats how I feel, but it isn’t the reality.
I was reading a post written by a friend earlier today, and she was talking about how she can tell when her family is doing something really important because everything in their lives flies apart in this wild chaotic mess. Because there is a real enemy that wants us to fail. Not if we’re living a trivial life, focused on ourselves. But if we’re stepping out faithfully to do God’s will, we should expect profound opposition. And it will manifest in all corners.
So I feel overwhelmed. I feel like I can’t even take the next step. But the feeling is a lie. Here’s the truth:
I’m not taking the next step alone. God is with me. That isn’t a platitude. I’m not delusional. The most powerful being in the entire universe is in my corner.
All I have to do is take that next step and trust that he’s taking it with me, working all the angles, clearing the path, and making it work. He’s done it before. In fact, he’s done it every other time.
Stepping into the chaos is going to hurt. It won’t be easy. And at each step forward, I’m probably going to face all these same doubts. But I’m not alone. I’m not in charge. I’m not the one who will make it all work. I’m just going on the journey.
Whatever you’re facing, don’t face it alone. Let Jesus walk it with you.
A plethora of excitingness has been happening the past four months- and it’s high time for a written report. I was introduced to the Greek Bible College opportunity kind of in the same way an assassin’s target finds out about a planted time bomb minutes from detonation. The amount of time given to consider the situation is so small and pressurized, the tendency toward self preservation has less time to kick in, and a braver course of action is usually taken…God knew if I had too much time to think, I would have stayed home and implemented my home-school-college-for-a-year-via-online-courses-plan. It would have been the worst decision of my life.
Since being here, so many blessings have followed. The opportunities here are so many, together they weigh more than a couple universes. The staff are primarily responsible for that. All of my professors (colloquially) are “beasts” for God. They’re a group of delightful, intentional, and wise people who’ve earnestly been studying the Lord and His word for most their lives (many of them with the bible’s original languages under their belts- how cool is that?!). Accordingly, I’ve been hoarding up vast amounts of…information doesn’t seem to be quite the right word, since the majority of what I’ve been learning doesn’t feel academic. To say it better, I’ve relished and cherished the lessons of Evangelism, Old Testament Survey, Inductive Bible Studies, Corinthian Correspondence, and Theology courses (I admit I may have been a less than excited student of Ancient Greek, but we get on tolerably. 😉 ) . I’ve never loved school more or rather, school has never felt less like school before.
And those are just the academic blessings! I’ve shared the joys of experiencing a new country/culture with classmates who were hand-picked for this year by God. Within the first week, we were treating each other as sincere life-long friends. Together we’ve seen the ruins of Corinth and some of the Athenian wonders- for example the Acropolis and Mars Hill. I confess, we’ve even tested and approved a few picturesque Aegean Sea beaches. Through hands-on projects for the Evangelism course, and projects of our own, I’ve been witness the Holy Spirit stirring people’s hearts for Christ. Every Monday night, I take part in a ministry that serves dinner to over 200 refugees for free. It’s easily the best night of my week- seeing so many hungry, broken people filled up with good food and a message about humanity’s Savior…
Yes, the opportunity for the Greek Bible College was a time bomb- it’s exploded into a radical, life changing, mind blowing, heart shaping, fun oozing time. If this doesn’t teach me that God knows best and that being a Christ follower is the most incredible thing I could ever do in life, I don’t know what would…
…The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you,
~2 Timothy 4:22
A number of years ago, I was editing a video. In it a man shared his life story. He was relatively old, and there was a whole lot of footage. A personal conflict had prevented me from being able to do the recording, so I’d never met him. For several weeks, I poured my every free moment into editing his life. He had experienced some incredible hardships, but the twinkle in his eye, friendly demeanor, and the sense of who he was won me over. As I watched the story of his life again and again trimming and tightening his story, I felt I’d come to know him.
A few weeks later, I ran into him at an event. Warmly I hailed him from across the room, one friend to another, only to be greeted with a cold stare and his retreating back. I didn’t really know him. I only knew about him. I had confused knowledge with relationship.
This story came to me this week as I was thinking about Jesus. In this part of Germany, you can barely go ten steps without seeing a “Jesus.” He’s been carved from wood and stone, cast in plaster, painted, and cut from tiny shards of glass. You can find him on the sides of buildings, in any one of thousands of churches, or even on the side of the road. Almost no matter where you look there is a cold lifeless figure of Jesus. In general I attribute the best of intentions to the people that scattered Jesus’ image all over the world, but I wonder, does it really help?
Do you know Jesus? Or do you just know about him? Do you have a relationship with him or just knowledge about him? Please don’t confuse the two. Relationship with Jesus will change your life. If you don’t see the evidence of that, the little changes day by day that are radically impacting you and your choices, I would challenge you to get to know him better. It won’t necessarily make you healthy, wealthy, or wise. In fact, I think in many cases it will lead to struggle, possibly even suffering. At the same time, neither wealth nor getting our way all of the time can bring us happiness, just look at our Hollywood icons. (More people we know all about, without really knowing.) A life of virtually endless money, surrounded by sycophants who indulge their every whim, yet very few of them seem happy. What knowing Jesus can give you is better than money, better even than happiness. There is a Joy in Jesus Christ, a hope that life in the future will be better, a contentment in living where he places you that doesn’t exist anywhere else in life. Living in relationship with Jesus isn’t easy, but it is incredible!
This past week I got a chain email. I really don’t like chain letters, and determined a long time ago that no matter what the letter contained, if it pressured me in any way to send it on, I wouldn’t. As they so often are, this email was a “forward this on if you really love Jesus” email. I struggled a bit with guilty feelings about not forwarding it on. However, a question struck me and I read it through again. There was nothing in this email, nothing at all, that would reveal the character of Jesus to someone who didn’t already know him. That’s what inspired this message. I want you to know that if you reach out to Jesus he will not glare coldly and walk away. He loves you and desperately desires relationship with you. He gave up being God to come down to earth and live with all the same conflicting wants, unmet needs, passions and sufferings you experience today, and then he was brutally beaten, murdered, and he overcame death. He did this, not because he needed to, but so that he could have a relationship with you. No one else in your life will ever go to these lengths to try to know you. Don’t stare coldly and turn away. Take the opportunity of a life time. Jesus loves you.
If you want to forward this on to your friends, feel free. However, please do not include any guilt trip inducing language as though somehow punching the forward button on your email is living out the great commission. 🙂