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Posts Tagged ‘Questions’

There isn’t much better, in my far from humble opinion, to do with your time than go to L’abri. That’s pretty much all I have to say. Really. But if you need some reasons…

It’s a place to go and ask honest questions of life the universe and everything, a place to discover answers and discover that the answers you had might need rethinking. It’s a place to live in community, to work, to wash dishes, to clean and cook, it’s a place to drink copious amounts of tea and play speed scrabble in the breaks, it’s a place to delve into the tape collection like a child in a sweet shop.  It’s a place to talk, to discuss, to listen and be listened to, it’s a place to stop and think, a place to breathe and realise that God is way way way bigger than you give him credit for.  It’s a place to put down the things you carry and see what is worth picking up again, it’s a place to explore the wealth of space between the question and the answer, it’s a place to ponder the nature of reality and discover all our expert ways at hiding from reality. 

I’ve spent the last 3 days there, and although that’s far from enough, it was enough to stop and breathe again, to stop and remember that God is. It was enough to be reminded that reality is to be lived in, not hidden from. Enough to remind me that God is real, that I love pondering the questions of life, and that I am more broken and messed up than I like to admit. 

It’s not an easy place to go to, one of the things I love and hate about the place is that there aren’t many ‘mountain top’ moments, I don’t generally go and have uber experiential mystic moments with God, but in the breathing, eating, washing up, falling asleep listening to tapes moments I discover that God is in this mundane, in the ordinary, and so he is in the ordinary of all of life. This is no place to escape reality but a place that makes living in reality all the more possible. 

So, next time you’re wondering what to do with a weekend, or a week off, book in. 

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It’s Monday morning. Monday morning in our house of communityness involves getting up (yes even in the unemployed state it is possible to get out of bed before 7am) and sitting in a room with 5 other sleepy people attempting to communicate with their Maker. That doesn’t involve a lot of chanting, wishing, spells and other things that the former sentence originally conjured up in my mind. We opened our mouths, talked and there you have it, we communicated with the unseen world. Which frankly is bizarre. The most constant battle in my mind this weekend has been with the seen and the unseen. If there is more to this world than is in front of my eyes, more that I can see, touch and experience right now then there are dramatic and life changing consequences to how I live my life on this planet.

I live in a culture that believes, more than ever, that we can have everything we want right now. Snap your fingers and behold, there you have it. I’m not sure when we bowed to this lie, when we lived so fast that we left ourselves behind. I live in culture that wants to experience everything right now, that derives meaning from all that we have experienced. (btw I’m not saying this as if it has only just occurred to me, obviously this is the case, I’m not offering out a new social commentary, merely picking up on the bleedin obvious in front of our eyes).

Time and our use of time is now a commodity, if you have the money time is there to be molded by you, influenced by you, you are in charge, nothing happens which we cannot control. We are our own lords and the thought that someone else might be in control, might be settling a different agenda is frankly a little ridiculous. Oh we pay lip service to this notion, but really, this is my life, my world. my time, my priorities, my agenda, my Saturday. And I’m wondering, what is so wrong with that? What is so bad about that? But does our lack of contentment, constant craving for more and more stuff, our refusal to be happy unless we have one more thing/relationship/job/high come from our problem with time? Do we really control our own time? And does that really bring the meaning, satisfaction and sense of wonder that we want it to?

But what if this is not our world? What if time wasn’t ours to play with, to master, to control, to manipulate and distort? What if all that is in front of my eyes isn’t what this world is about? What if there was someone else in charge? Would I want to follow them? What if they claimed to offer eternal time, time that goes beyond this world, time that offers life beyond our greatest fear?

I’m fighting with that notion right now. I want there to be more than this, but do I want that because I don’t have things that I really want right now? I don’t have a perfect house with a perfect relationship and a family on my doorstep. I cannot tell you how strong the ache is for some of this stuff. Part of me knows that there is more than this, that perfection can only be found beyond the grave, that we are waiting to be brought home. Part of me thinks these longings for perfection indicate that I am made for somewhere else, for a better world than this, for bluer skies, for deeper intimacy, for tangible joy. But am I just trying to make myself feel better about my lack of obvious things in this world? I have no job, I have no relationship, I have no house of my own, I have no discernible anchors in this world. And so is my longing for heaven a wish fulfillment? A way to deal with lack in this world? Or is it the natural desire for more? Built into me at birth from my knitter as he worked on me in the womb?

But there is this thought that makes me suspect my suspicions. What if I had those things, if I had family up the road who I could see each day, if I had a husband, kids, a lovely house of my own? I would still be me, I would still mess things up. The darkness would still be there, the pain would still be there, we would hurt each other and we would not be shielded from the brokenness of this world. I’m not saying this to prove that life is better without this stuff, it’s not a reason not to get married, have babies and buy a house. I’m not trying to justify my lifestyle to make myself feel better (well I probably am but that’s the way my brain works so go with it eh.) It’s just a warning to my soul to not long for perfection in circumstances but in something else.

And that is the question of this Monday morning. Is there more than this? Can I freely live in that knowledge being ok with not having all I want in this life? Is there more to this world than getting what I want all the time? Is it ok to be 30, not having anything you thought you might at this age? Is it ok to live for a time beyond this one and strike out for home deeply loving all around you and calling them to the journey? I want to, I want to, I want to. But these questions pull at me and drag me down again. I want to fly free from them, love well, accept the circumstances around me, trust in the One who has my times in his hands. I want to stand up and breathe the deeper, clearer air of Truth. This valley fog hangs so low at times.

(afterthought. which should not be an afterthought. “birds have nests, foxes have dens, but the hope of the whole world rests upon the shoulders of a homeless man”, there is someone who knows what this road is like…and I know, I have an amazing house, church family, friends who care, parents who love, I am ridiculously blessed.  It’s just what do you do with the questioning voice that wants more? Is that more just a reflection of our time and culture or is it a reflection that we were made for more, and that more is to be found in something other than immediate circumstances?)

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Have I done enough?

 I guess this is a question we ask a lot in life. “Have I done enough?” I ask it of the work I do, we ask it throughout any Christian ministry or service we undertake. “Have I done enough?”.

I wonder why we ask the question, whether it’s born out of wanting to prove to either ourselves, God, friends and the people we work with that we have done a good job. It’s also the natural question to ask in a job that has few boundaries or limitations. In the endless quest to make the brilliant news of Jesus known, and remind all of the reality of God it’s hard to know what really is ‘enough’. Who can tell? Who can really say? And will we ever know?

I sense we might be asking the wrong question though. Enough for what? Enough for who? Surely not enough to get love, surely not enough to stop, not enough to earn a reward. What is this enough we crave? We aren’t living this life to find the answer to that question. We are living in response to the answer given to us.

Jesus is our enough. Without him we can do nothing, we can never on our own do enough. He is our enough. He is our fullness, our answer, our safe refuge, our rock, our joy, our crown, our life. We need to open up our hands again and receive the enoughness of Jesus. And from that place serve in the strength he provides, with the opportunities he provides, to the people surrounding us. It’s good to stop and think about why we are here, what we are doing in this crazy thing we call life, whether we are doing the right things, but none of it comes down to ‘am I doing ‘enough’?’. Jesus fills that. We need to direct our thoughts to ‘who can we best love today?’ And at the end of each day repent of where we have not loved, thank our God for where he has enabled us to love and sleep resting in the knowledge that tomorrow there will be new mercies. Now that’s ‘enough’.

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Thursday

Today I sat at a table with my Relay Workers. We chatted, we read this, and we talked about the immensity of the Thursday that Jesus faced 2000 years ago. The Thursday where he took the Passover meal and made it about so much more. The Thursday where he told his disciples of a body broken and blood poured out. The Thursday where he wept, prayed and sweat blood in a garden whilst his friends fell asleep, oblivious to the pain going on near them. We remembered the Lord’s death, until he comes again, and we ate bread and drank wine.

Tonight I sat in the pub with my Drum group talking about a variety of random things, religion included. Sad to hear Christianity associated with just a strict moral code and the restrictions of a patriarchal society. The greatest truth of all is the one we seem to find it so hard to communicate. That we are not about trying to be good, but freely, openly admitting we are broken, alienated from this world, each other and our Maker, and that the way back is through one mans sacrifice. That I am accepted as I am, transformed to be what I was meant to be all along, and that I no longer have to try to be anything anymore. I am my Makers, I am in His family and I am free. That’s what we remember today and all this weekend. The immensity of God stepping in to love and bring his enemies home.

The questions ring around in my ears, do I live this freedom? Do I love this freedom? Do I embrace the freedom on offer and live a dangerous, risky life of love utterly secure in who I really am? And am I joyfully
thanking the one who bought this freedom with his life? Am I displaying this freedom to the world around?

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Treats that have made me smile, think, ponder, be delighted and made me cry over the last week:

1.Total Church. If you haven’t read it, read it now. Go on. NOW. Read it? Good, now face the challenge. It says things like this:

“I am not autonomous. I am person-in-community. I cannot be who I am without regard to other people… My being in Christ means being in Christ with those others who are in Christ. This is my identity. This is our identity. To fail to live out our corporate identity in Christ is analogous to the act of adultery: We can be Christians and do it but it is not what Christians should do. The loyalties of the new community supersede even the loyalties of biology.”

How that is worked out in community makes up the rest of the book, it’s the first book in a while that has woken my soul up so vigorously.

2.Josh Rouse- Country Mouse, City House. rousejosh-countrymousecityhouse-1.jpg
One of those beautiful infectious albums that gets under your skin and manages to soothe the soul at the same time. Also the Amy Macdonald album, the new Jack Johnson album, and the joys of the Wombats and their cheery Joy Division song: “Lets dance to Joy Division, and celebrate the Irony, everything is going wrong, but we’re so happy, we’re so happy.” Indeed.

3.Marcus Honeysett at our new CU leaders training weekend. Quotes like “Comfort is not normal for Christians”, “Pleasure in comfort is the opposite of the gospel”, “Faith involves stepping out without knowing the results”, “What’s the worst that could happen? You’d fall on your face, fail and look stupid- that doesn’t matter”, “Are you worshiping Christ every day?”, “In what areas of your life are you likely to cherish comfort more than Christ this year?”. Also: the late night chats, the conviction of sin, the possibilities offered by redemption and the joy of knowing I am a stupid sinner who remains loved and worked on by the Living and True God of all creation. My soul wanting to taste and live reality.

4. Playing the bongos lots, both in the band on the weekend and the Rooted gig last week, apologies for the bad photo…

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