The Nature of Crazy

Image

As I flew through the air I actually had time to think about what was going to happen next.  For those of you that have been launched off of or out of some form of transportation you may understand the moment I am referring to.  When I was in high school I actually had a man push me off of a 50 foot cliff because I could not convince my legs that jumping into Glendo Reservoir from that height was a good idea.  While I was flying through the air trying to get my body into position so that I did not break my face or my tailbone I had a similar experience to the one that I previously mentioned.  Knowing that something painful is coming, and knowing that you are already committed to the result whether you like it or not.

Side Note:  I once had a friend that jumped off of those same cliffs and went into the cold mountain run off with her legs out, not down.  She managed to get out of the water but could not stand up straight because she had bruised her tailbone, and she split her swim suit out.  Not only was there humiliation about having to walk back to the bus bent over with her swim suit split out, she spent the rest of the week walking around with a doughnut to sit on.  Rachael if you are reading this, I am sorry I laughed at the time, I was a kid.

Perspective on life is so much better when our boundaries are pushed into the wilderness.  Getting outdoors, introducing risk that is beyond the intellectual or emotional.  I have not gone mountain biking for awhile because I got out of the habit as if I could call twice a week a true workout plan.  However the mind set shift that took place when I would get out and fly down a mountain before work helped me to put work into perspective.  I stood at the edge of the woods at the church I worked at and it gave me great perspective.  A large black bear had been hanging out in our woods and I wanted so badly to see it.  It was like God was throwing me a shot of perspective 100 feet outside the office that I spend too much time in.  As I found a place to sit in the woods next to the amazing trails that are being built, I was able to put a few items in my life into a much better perspective.

One Event

Image

It seems that we are all one event for a different point of view, one event from being free of a misconception or burdens by a new problem.  I remember the day that I lost a job that I had, I was free.  The amount of stress that I had for the months before hand was excruciating.  Even though my life was not going to be any easier that one event produced a new perspective that shaped my life even to this day.

When I was in the midst of the reality that I was living before that event there seemed to be no end and no hope of a good conclusion to the matter.  I remember days that I did not think of anything but the consequences of being fired and not having a job.  I cannot tell you how much better I slept after I had actually lost my job.

Fast forward a couple of months when all I could think about was how I was going to get employed again.  Our savings was running out and finding an income was all I could think about with my waking hours (which was all of them because I was not sleeping).  Then when I finally found a job I cannot tell you how much better I slept that night.  One Event.

Why is my faith so events based?  One event changed my perspective, and you would think that after a few of these isolated instances that I would be able to put my faith in a more consistent place than in that one event.

Exploding Onions of Fire

Image

So now that I have your attention, some observations about food and God.  As I was sitting today watching the onion volcano in front of me I was struck by the idea that I now require my food to entertain me, or at least the cook to entertain me.  The cook was great by the way, but that is hardly the point.  The point is I was so entertained that the guy could have gotten me to eat anything and I would have probably thought it was the best meal ever.  Consequently the food was very good, or was it?

When it comes to what I believe is the most important things in life I find that I have the same sort of inattentiveness.  I am compelled to buy the show instead of consume the nutrients.  Media and marketing know this and they use it to their advantage, the next time you watch commercials (thank you Netflix and DVR for freeing me of this, most of the time) look at what they are selling versus what they are using to sell it.  They are more likely to use something that relates to your desires more so than what they are selling you.

Here is where the God part comes in, many Christians in the past have tried to sell Christianity based on God meeting our desires rather than on the truth of what God desire for us.  This has created a consumer mindset for those that come to God and into the church.  The idea of God becomes more about meeting our needs than allowing ourselves to be transformed.  God does want to meet us at our point of need, but to leave us there would be to keep the focus on the person in the relationship that knows least about what their true needs are.

Bart, You are a Grown Man!!

Image

I am now 38 years old.  I had an epiphany yesterday that in a couple of years I will be closer to retirement age than high school graduation age.  So the other night I had to catch a shuttle from the gas station about a quarter mile from my church.  I parked at the church at 1 o’clock in the morning which thankfully now has parking lot lights.  As if the time of morning and the fact that I was alone were not enough, there has been a large black bear in the woods next to the church.  And if that were not enough, there was a thick fog that had settled in that night.

So as I stepped out of my car and unloaded my baggage (by baggage I am not referring to latent fears from childhood viewings of “Friday the 13th”, those I apparently have not unloaded).  I looked around and thought “just start walking Bart”.  So the grown up started to walk at a brisk pace along the lonely, foggy, wooded, highway at 1 o’clock in the morning.  My wife has a belief in Sasquatch, I don’t.  What I struggle with is the humans, and the black bear.

Needless to say I made it, or the person that killed me has taken over my blog.  When I was sitting on the bench at the gas station I couldn’t help but laugh at myself.  The whole scenario would have played out much differently in my head if there was just one person there to share it with.  With two or three other people this becomes a great game of hide-and-seek.  With one person it is just the beginning of a horror movie.

Coffee, Gasoline, Water

Image

Which is more expensive per gallon from the store:  coffee, gasoline, or water?  I was given a “coffee maker” the other day that is basically a water heater.  You heat up the water and then put small packets of instant coffee from a popular coffee company (we all know who I am talking about).  Besides the cost of heating the water the packets are $1 for every 8 ounces of coffee.  So I had a $2 cup of st******ks coffee in my office THAT I MADE MYSELF!!!

Gasoline $3.50/gallon

Bottled water $12/gallon

Coffee Shop Coffee $16/gallon

Needless to say I am thinking about buying tea packets to use for with my glorified hot water heater.  I always get upset about how much I have to spend on gasoline then I think about coffee and water.  By the way water out of the tap is 300x cheaper than bottled on average.  Coffee made at home is about $0.30 a cup on average (depending on your preferences).  Please don’t base any of your arguments off these figures, they are my own estimations.  

No matter how much I try to change there is always part of me that say “I will pay for it because I like it that way”.  Even when someone shows me valid data. 

To Be a Child

Image

As I was trying to get to the bottom of the phrase “in the Lord” this morning my daughter wanted to climb into my lap.  I responded by pushing her away and saying quite angrily “get away I am trying to understand the love of God”.  Okay maybe I didn’t do that.  As she sat in my lap I tried to get her to say the letters on my “Wyoming Cowboys” shirt.  She would have none of that, she wanted to give the letters their own name as well as squirm all over my lap while trying to contort my face into 20 different positions.  Maybe it was the phrase I was contemplating, and maybe it was the fact that every pastor tries to use their children to make a theological applications, but something clicked in place this morning.

The first job as a parent is to convince your child that you are their parent, aka the main adult(s) in their life.  I work with several military families that have had children born when they were on deployment that have expressed some frustration with this.  I have had that same struggle with at least one of my children mostly because we were not in his life until he was almost 4.  Once they are convinced that you are daddy they won’t necessarily jump in your lap.  They might run around the house and listened when they want to listen, so you protect the boundaries to keep them safe.  After awhile the child wants to spend time on your lap, not necessarily doing what you want to do, but they are on your lap.

So it is, I believe, with God.  First he tries to convince us he is Father.  Once we accept that, we are in the house; but not necessarily in His lap, nor obedient.  Most parents will recognize that there is a tremendous difference between a child that calls you mom and a child that seeks your affection and/or obeys you.  Acknowledging God is a great first step and it is a step that many stop at like a person stopping on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial without going in.  Can you imagine what it would be like as God to have a bunch of children running around his house that never listen to Him, and never long to be with Him?

What it Means to be Human

Did you know that there is a field of thought out there that says that reality is defined by our language and relationships?  I am not saying that I agree with that sentiment, but I like to ponder the idea.  In a sense we don’t truly live without a method of articulating what our senses gather.  In another sense we don’t truly live if we do it in isolation from other people. 

I think about this idea frequently when I think about my son Nathan.  For four years he did not have a language, he spoke less than four words in his native language.  How does a child develop when he is left for hours in a crib during the day in order to be able to keep track of him, not being touched?  How does a child retain memories without having a language in which to define those memories.

This post is not about Nathan necessarily, its about what defines us as human.  Can we say that we are living the human experience without communicating with other people, without articulating who we are and allow others to articulate who they are?  Can we say that we are living the human experience if we don’t reach out and interact with others on a normal basis?  Can we say that we are living the human experience if we don’t actually make physical contact with someone on a normal basis? 

What is the human experience if it is not shared?  Humans were created to be relational beings, there is no doubt about it.  To believe that rationale or emotion supersedes our need for relationship would be an insult to the one that created us.  What that means is that there is no way we can use our rationale or our emotions to justify escaping from relationship.  If we do, we are trying to escape what makes us human in the first place.  What makes us human?  A God that doesn’t just believe in relationship but exists in relationship. 

I frequently ask Nathan about what he remembers about the orphanage that he lived in for half of his life.  He can articulate a very small amount of what happened before the day we received him.  If you asked him, he was a baby when we received him because there is so little that he could put words to before that.  His memories are vivid after that day however;  he speaks about the hotel room that we stayed in like it was his delivery room.  He learned words, was well fed, and had two people that were not going anywhere no matter how hard he screamed (and boy can he scream).