Thursday, September 20, 2012

Who is my Pharaoh?

Too often I wait too long to write these words I get.  This time it's been a few days but I think it'll be alright.

Anyway, while reading 2 Kings: 17 the other day I got to thinking about some things.  I was wondering, "Who (or what) was my Pharaoh?"  Throughout the Old Testament, the Lord constantly reminds Israel that it the Lord is the one who brought them out of Egypt and delivered them from slavery.  One of numerous examples of this can be found in 2 Kings 17:7.  I think perhaps this is what (as well as the Holy Spirit) led me to begin pondering this.

I haven't always been "saved," "redeemed," "forgiven," or whatever you want to call it.  There was a time when I was enslaved to sin.  A time when I was in bondage and living under Pharaoh, king of Egypt.  And I have come to realize that in order to live a life of devotion to God I cannot forget that the Lord has delivered me from this.  How easily, like the nation of Israel, do I slip back into idolatry.  I forget that I have been delivered.  That I no longer have to live as a slave.  I am free.

So I am trying to recall what it was that I was delivered from.  There can be many vague or general answers, but what was it that really enslaved me.  That kept me trapped.  If I look at my life now, some of the idols that I think put chains around my heart are so cleverly disguised.  I find such a temporary hope in the "promise" of relationships.  I am so quick to think that someone could be "the one" that I put an exaggerated amount of heart energy into thinking about it and longing for it to be true.  I try to convince myself that it's healthy and with pure motives but when it comes down to it, it's an idol.

But it is time to put away my childish crushes.  It is time to act like a man and think like a man and not a man in the way that the world sees it.  I need to be a mature man of God.  I don't want to live my life with a heart on fast-forward.  Nor do I want to be someone who looks to the past with regret.  I want to live my life today.

I have ruined some great potential friendships by thinking only about their potential to be relationships.  While it is possible that a friendship can be the spark that ignites a relationship, I need to give that time.  I need to learn to get to know someone from their mouth, not from the words they type in their profile or the pictures they post.  Love is, first of all, patient.  With the technology we live with, it can be easy to think that we know all there is to know about someone before we even meet them.  Facebook can tell us everything we'd like to know, but then where is the place for conversation?  For dialogue between people?  I want to get to know someone by doing more than reading about him or her or looking and his or her pictures.

So I am trying to remember the Lord who brought me out of Egypt.  I am trying to remember the life before so that I can appreciate life now.  For I have been redeemed.  I have been saved.  And yes, I have been forgiven.  If I forget my enslavement I fall quickly into entitlement and that places me above others.  I am not above others, not anyone.  I once lived in chains, but now have free reign as a friend of the forever King.  How can I claim anything different?  My freedom does not permit me to enslave others.  It demands that I show others the Way that I have found.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Before the sky was cloudy

I used to be that one.  The child in the backseat struggling to stay awake late at night as our family returned from a night at a family friend's house.  My parents spoke a language that was beyond me and would occasionally pause to see if we were still conscious.  I couldn't make out much of what they were saying because my youth had not yet been fully clouded.  Still, when we arrived home I would try to remember the ride home, with little hope.  The majority of the 30-minute drive was spent in dreams I'll never remember, though the time was so short that I just felt that I closed my eyes for a couple seconds.  I couldn't have slept the entire drive home.  But how were we back so soon?  I'm awake now.  I still have something left in me.  Why go to sleep?  But they insisted and so I did.

Later it would become a little more relaxed.  If I wished to stay awake, it was my own discretion.  Nothing productive ever really seemed to happen then.  Maybe I would see what was on TV but late night wasn't made for a youngster.  All the people on the screen spoke the same language my parents spoke and the good channels had since become uninteresting.  Some of this just put clouds in my sky of sunshine.  Other times I would read only to wake up a few hours later with my bed lamp still on and only having read a few pages at most.  Or some mornings I would wake up with no recollection of having turned off the lamp.

I have few memories of how I spent those nights while we were still at the party.  What words were exchanged?  How did I enjoy myself?  Was it really fun?  Or if I was allowed to use my time with other matters, what would I have done?  I guess that's just a part of childhood: you either get left at home and are cared for by a babysitter or an older sibling or you're dragged to events that you're parents have been invited to and encouraged to have fun but stay out of sight until it's time to leave.  What did happen on those nights?

Though it is tempting to state that life was much simpler in the "good old days," it is not wise to think this way.  I am no longer the child hoping to stay awake, thinking if I can stay awake for the rest of the ride home, perhaps I will have a few more wakeful hours of fun.  I am now the man driving alongside that child as he stares blankly into the faraway galaxies of life not yet clouded.  I'm the man who speaks in a language no longer familiar to the child determined to get even just a few more minutes of consciousness before sleep steals him away.  Now, I am the man who thinks, "It would be nice to go to sleep now, but my mind has ideas that I'll forget if I do and my hands still have a few chores to do."

Some say adolescence now stretches until nearly the thirties and in some cases that's true.  But the clouds also come quickly and without warning.  You go off to do something or "discover yourself" and wind up wondering when the storm arrived.  Just a few years ago, you could see the sun shining and even feel its warmth but now it's dark.  So you draw your own sun and hope it will shine but nothing is like it was.  The warmth isn't natural, the brightness seems forced.  Still, you must remember, don't reminisce in those days longing to return, because you'll never be able to do so.  It's a waste of time, thinking on hopes that can never be realized.  You're an adult now, there's no going back.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

"Life's like an hourglass glued to a table"

I woke up with the feeling that I wanted to fast-forward and rewind.  I wanted to be places where I'm not.  Why can't I just be content with the life that I'm in?  Now seeing some of the music that's been new this week shows me some of this back and forward feeling.  The Nineties appear to be back and the future is here too.  Some artists that were bigger in the Nineties have come back with another try, some after trying their own thing musically, others after what seemed like a musical gap.  Then there are those artists that have become popular lately though they somehow seem to be the independent type.  That can be pretty exciting.

But I'm not sure why I'm telling you this.  Why am I hoping in this?  I actually hope that I am not hoping in this.  Where is the hope in this world?  It's evaporating.  That's where it is.  It won't last.

So where do I stand?  If the things I observe with my five senses are fleeting where do I turn?  What do I use to observe what will last?  I can relate to the thorn in the flesh.  It's as if there are arrows in my head, sometimes leaking hope and truth and other times penetrating deep into destruction.  The blood of my nothing seeps into dark moments of life and I wonder where to go from it.  I cannot run from a thorn in my flesh.  I cannot escape from a broken bone in my body.

Perhaps this seems much darker than it is but sometimes it may be darker still.  What happens here in life while I'm living.  I stay inside as the sun is shining.  My skin grows pale and my thoughts make me weak.  Who then, will I spend time with?  My life is leaking and no one seems to notice but me.  But I feel so many notice in the anxiety of everyone watching.  Are they speaking behind my back in front of me?  The thoughts I think they're thinking cause me to conspire against myself.  It's something that we do.  Those with broken minds.  But the glue just isn't sticking.  Something must be done to heal this pain inside.

Don't tell me clich├ęs.  I know them and they're not helping.  Don't fake your care.  I can see through it like a child.  And don't give me obligatory "love."  There is something about being here.  Something about being near.  Something where my hand is held and no one can really know what they're doing.  Something about the truth in authenticity.

It may seem as though I am depressed but do not stress.  Don't despair for then I have done the opposite of my purpose, though it is not just positivity.  I believe it is being true in love.  Being authentic and pointing to the One from above.

"and you can't jump the tracks, we're like cars on a cable"