Skip to main content

spar

My vacation is turning out to be much busier than I had hoped. The lazy days, sitting by the fire reading a book, are still strictly in my mind. We are planning a mega birthday celebration for my mother on January 1, and last night after a day crammed with lunch at the Mexican restaurant, a trip to a few stores to exchange gifts that didn't fit and redeem gift cards, scouting out the celebration facility, a trip to the photo studio for family pictures, and a late dinner, I sat down to organise the program (I am the MC), work on my power point presentation, and get the door prizes ready. I went to bed shortly after midnight and still left a few things undone. This morning I awoke, tired and coughing. Not pleasant.

One thing that has been going through my mind this week is the following question: What am I mad at God about? In fact, he was the one that asked me this in the middle of worship in church on Sunday morning. And then he said..."Let's talk about it. Don't just ignore it or stuff it down. Get it off your chest. Give me a chance to answer your accusations." And so, despite my deeply ingrained inclination to let God get away with everything because...well, he is God, after all, I told him what irritated me about him.

Mostly, it is the fact that I pray for Dean every day and yet, he can't seem to shake a very nasty recurring chest cough. And this morning, I was annoyed that all my hard work trying to serve my family is wearing me down and making me tired and sick as well. I don't understand why some guy named Paul can just speak a few words over people (I have been reading Acts) and they get up from their death bed, and I can't even get God to heal a simple cough. What's the point of asking if nothing changes? This does not encourage faith by any means. I am irritated that my prayers seem to be useless and that my concern and compassion for people are not resulting in much fruit. Of course, this is not totally accurate; there are areas of my life and some relationships that are flourishing and growing indeed, but let's let the discouragement talk for a minute.

So, this is the thing that I don't like about God. He is not my puppet. This morning in the shower as I was lamenting about my congested chest, God said, "So, now you can identify with Dean and have more patience with him." Oh. I hadn't realised how impatient I was becoming with his continual coughing, sniffing, fatigue, and overall noisy sickness. Isn't it funny how the very thing God lets into my life to give patience a chance to stretch its wings is the thing that makes me impatient. The long drawn out nature of something frustrates me, whether it be sickness, unresolved tension, or a project. And this seedbed of frustration is the perfect environment for some beautiful patience to grow and flower.

I believe I am too passive with God in some ways. Yes, surrender is good and necessary every day, but he also wants me to bring my frustrations and irritations to him; if I don't, I will never ask for (or perhaps even demand) an answer to the incongruencies of my life, and they will never be addressed. I need to give him a chance to explain what he is doing, why things are the way they are, and how I can work with him to make this the best life I can ever live. It is like a fight instructor waving his pupil towards him, in effect saying, "Come on, spar with me. Bring what you have. Let me show you what you can do with that pent-up energy."

I get stronger by wrestling with God, and hopefully, I learn to move and think like he does. A few bruises along the way are all part of the equation. Yes, God is my kick-boxing instructor. If I engage strongly and regularly with him, I am sure I will be able to handle anything life can throw at me.

This is a plate of Christmas spanakopita after the family got at them. Every boxer needs spinach to stay strong.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

the songs we sing

NOTE: I am going to make some pretty strong statements below, but understand that it is my way of taking an honest, hard look at my own worship experience and practice. My desire is not to be overly critical, but to open up dialogue by questioning things I have assumed were totally fine and appropriate. In other words, I am preaching to myself. Feel free to listen in.

---------------------

When I am in a church meeting during the singing time, I sometimes find myself silent, unable to get the words past my lips. At times I just need a moment of stillness, time to listen, but other times, the words make me pause because I don't know that I can sing them honestly or with integrity. This is a good thing. We should never mindlessly or heartlessly sing songs just because everyone else is. We should care deeply about what we say in our sung, communal worship.

At their best, songs sung by the gathered body of Christ call to life what is already in us: the hope, the truth, the longing, t…

comedic timing

One of my favourite jokes goes like this:
Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Interrupting cow
Interrupting cow w---
Moooooooo!!

Timing is important in both drama and comedy. A well-paced story draws the audience in and helps it invest in the characters, while a tale too hastily told or too long drawn out will fail to engage anyone. Surprise - something which interrupts the expected - is a creative use of timing and integral to any good story. If someone is reading a novel and everything unfolds in a predictable manner, they will probably wonder why they bothered reading the book. And so it is in life. Having life be predictable all of the time is not as calming as it sounds. We love surprises, especially good surprises like birthday parties, gifts, marriage proposals, and finding something that we thought was lost. Surprises are an important part of humour. A good joke is funny because it goes to a place you didn't expect it to go. Similarly, comedic timing allows something unexpected …

singing lessons

When I was a young child, a visiting preacher came to our country church. He brought his two daughters with him, and before he gave his sermon, they sang beautiful duets about Jesus. They had lovely voices which blended well. The preacher, meaning to impress on us their God-given musical talent, mentioned that the girls had never had any singing lessons. The congregation nodded and ooohhed in appreciation. I was puzzled. I didn't understand how not learning was a point of grace or even pride. After all, people who have natural abilities in sports, math, writing, art, or science find it extremely helpful to study under teachers who can aid them in their development and introduce them to things outside their own experience. Being self-taught (though sometimes the only option available to those with limited resources) is not a cause for pride or celebration. Why? Because that's just not how the communal, relational Creator set things up.

I have been singing since I was a child. …