Alright, at the risk of making it even worse than it already is, I’ll admit it. I am having trouble writing. Where I once found inspiration in a blank page I now feel self doubt and struggle with the validity of my words and opinion. I think the best way to describe it is that I have now seen enough of life to know one thing, and that is that I don’t know. Almost like the truth that I used to see everywhere suddenly became one dimensional the more I walked around and looked at it from different angles.
Today though, I am feeling inspired. And I am pretty sure it has something to do with our family having spent last week on vacation. A break from every day life seems to have a way with smashing the sense back into my head.
So here it is, the weight that is heavy on my soul, the truth that I am grabbing at the heals of and finally feel free enough to write about.
One day on our vacation Jessie and I left the kids and went out together to walk the streets around the neighborhood in Rome near apartment we were staying in (Yay for finally getting to the place where our oldest can babysit!) As we walked we started back into a discussion that seems to be circling in orbit around our marriage for the past few years, and that is this one simple question.
“Should you ruin your life for a holy cause, even if you haven’t heard God’s voice in a thunder from heaven kind of way?”
And so we talked and walked as our hands grasped tightly around one another in sheer excitement to be together alone and not having to go back to work the next morning as usual. As we walked along a particularly beautiful cobblestone street Jessie wondered out loud how anyone could “Name and claim” the voice of God so strongly as to uproot their lives when our experience has been that of quiet whispers and subtle hints from God. We talked about the abuses in the area of “God said” that we have walked through in our christian life together, and the struggle we have with fear that coils up inside us when anyone claims the direction of God without first testing the word for wisdom and truth. We ourselves have failed miserably in this area, we have made bold statements about what “God was doing in our lives” only to later admit to ourselves that the whole thing was our own selfish desire being lived out under the banner of heaven because we could not admit that we just wanted to do something.
Here is the deal though, despite all the pain, in the face of the struggles and wounds and mistakes we have through our lives we believe more than ever that God does call all of us to a life of giving, he does as his followers to give up comfort and security for the benefit of others. We believe that, and we stand on that, and we are willing to shape our lives around that truth.
There is more though, because what we have been wrestling with is the further question of “What?” It is that simple. What do I do? How do I go about wrecking perfect in my life for the purpose of being closer to him when I so rarely hear his voice clearly give direction in my life.
I found the answer to that question in the strangest of places today. Well strange for me anyway, I suppose lots of other people in the world go to exactly this source for their inspiration. I was reading an article in the airport at about 1 AM with the kids sprawled all around in various uncomfortable half asleep positions and I have picked up some obscure international version of the New York Times and there was this opinion piece about the Pope and how his heart for the poor is ruffling some feathers in the catholic church. The article was from the point of view of an atheist who was honestly surprised by the way the Pope was reaching out to the poor, how he was washing the feet of women and Muslims, how he was going above and beyond to tell the church that they are wrong when they look inwards for where to spend their energy.
I think the Pope has got the right idea on this one, and its clear by the way this guy was writing in the article, that its impossible to ignore the draw that exists when we see someone who is showing true compassion in the way that Jesus calls us to.
We Christians, we are called to live a life of service, we are asked to step up to the needs of those around us, and we are instructed to leave all that we have behind and give it to the poor if it stands in our way. Anyone would be hard pressed to read the Bible and interpret it any other way. Yet the reality we live out is so often so different from that.
I think that the best way to summarize what we are called to is this, we are supposed to wreck perfect, we are asked to tear down whatever safety we have built up around ourselves that makes us feel we don’t need God, we are commanded to see the needs of the poor as our own needs. The beauty of all this is that it is so simple, yet it takes the complicated question of “Did I really hear God” irrelevant, because you know that when you are doing “for the least of these” you are doing it for Him. You know that when you are helping others you are on the right path, no matter what.
Now, yes there are all sorts of further questions that need to be tackled such as what kind of assistance the poor need, and how to give in such a way that you are not just feeding into the cycle of poverty that leads to more need later, but that comes later after the first steps, after the place where you say that you are ready to wreck perfect.
No one ever said “I finally have so much money that I feel my life has purpose and meaning”, or “I am finally so safe and secure that I feel close to God”. Nope, never. Not that you can’t both have money and be close to God, its just that you will never find meaning and security in those things, only God can deliver that. And only after we leave this world will we really get to experience that peace.
What about you? Do you agree? Are you ready to wreck perfect in your life? Ready to give up what you have for the poor, to tear apart your earthly life for the purpose of heaven?
I am, and I am happy to say that I believe it can be done in a way that preserves everything you are responsible for. For instance if you are a father like me, I believe you can wreck perfect in a way that maintains your family, you can destroy the walls of safety while also making your family more safe. You can step up to the responsibilities you already have and add new ones at the same time.
I know it drips with irony, it feels like opposing stories being told to the same tune, that is the beauty of God, he lays out near impossible goals, calls us to the highest mountain tops, and puts a song in our hearts that inspires wild dreams.
Anyone else ready to go out and start wrecking perfect? Ready to start being compassionate on a whole new level? Giving till it hurts, just so it hurts at first so that we can start to understand what it means to really love our neighbors as ourselves?