Thursday, August 7, 2008

Slow Fade Into the Ocean's Arms

Camp is over; work week is here. People are slowly leaving - some in clumps, some at random times. There's about 20-25 of us left; ropes techs, lifeguards, wranglers and kitchen workers (i.e. almost all of my friends from this summer). We're having a blast hanging out and getting camp ready for the retreat season.

I'll be back in Tulsa on Sunday at noon. Then I'll be back in Norman Wednesday the 20th. It will be a change.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


On my worst days, I wonder why I'm even a Christian. From my experience being involved in the lives of other people, this is not an uncommon problem.

That's why it's so important to me to keep writing. When things are good, it is important for me to look back and see what has happened when I did know why I was doing things the way I was doing things. Most people call this "journaling." I call it "blogging" because I am "compelled to share things with the world."

The good parts: I don't have to fear repercussions, because a life lived unto God doesn't include me doing things to get into trouble for. Fear doesn't affect me in general, because God is in control and he won't let my life crash. Shame doesn't affect me, because anything I've done is forgiven and finished. My guilt is gone, because I am called to make things right with all those I've hurt. Death doesn't scare me (although I'd prefer to stay here and live for God for as long as I can) and life excites me (it is a grand adventure and I am a happy wanderer). I am continually filled with people who love me, for I love people. I fear no loneliness in general, because God is there even when people (even when Christians) reject me.

I have purpose. I have direction. I have no need to obsessively plan my future, my romances, my jobs, my family, anything. God will provide.

Yes, this world gets hard. But God has overcome the world. I can rest in that.
I have always resented what seem to be incredibly sappy declarations of faith. Reading over my little list, I am pretty much what I resented. I am okay with that - because I feel alive. If it takes looking ridiculous and goofy on paper to live, I'll do it. Because it's real.

woo God. I encourage you to declare. If you have nothing to declare, I encourage you to find God; then you'll have something to declare.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

We are in a long-distance relationship with the future.

I'm reading "The Sacred Romance" right now. It's all about how God wants to be intimately acquainted with us a lover, and how Satan wants to keep us from realizing that. 

Eldredge talks about how Satan speaks to us through thoughts that we think are of ourselves. I read that and thought to myself, "I can usually determine what's from God and what's a lie... I'm pretty knowledgeable in that area." 

I immediately switched over to a train of thought about an issue in my life that I think very negatively about. I've always thought very negatively about long-distance relationships, and I just don't like the thought of being in one. I've told myself before that I'll know that God wants me to be in a relationship when the right girl comes along who has all these characteristics and lives near me. If a girl doesn't have all these characteristics and/or doesn't live near me, it must not be of God if I find myself liking a person, so thought I. It must be a distraction from Satan that I have to kill. 

But wait. Don't I serve the God who created the universe? Don't I serve the one who not only moves the pieces, but made the pieces? I doubt that God can do anything? What am I thinking?

Well, it's not me thinking - it's me believing what Satan is trying to speak into my life. Do I think that long distance relationships are the best thing ever? No. But swearing them off altogether because I don't believe that God can make them succeed? That's a different thing altogether. It's fear. Perfect love casts out fear, and God has perfect love for me.  

I get so fearful because I imagine so far into the future in all my endeavors. I feel somewhat irresponsible if I don't have my future planned out, but I feel fearful once I plan it all out and see that there's so much there and so much to do and so much to be and so much and so much and SO MUCH. 

I need to rest in the day. I am not at that point. I need to rest in the week, the month, the semester. I do not need to worry about the rest of my life. God has that all planned, and I will find that as he unveils it. He has unveiled so much this summer that I did not know and could not have imagined. It will be like this for the rest of my life if I keep following him. I need to rest in this. 

I am not ready to rest in the day. But I am ready to rest in the semester. That is better than what I've been doing. At age 18 I had my life planned out till I was 40. I'm not even kidding - someone wrote an article on me as proof. It was in the paper. But it was so incredibly fearful.

So I am letting God be in control of my days. Is it a bit uncomfortable not knowing what's coming? Yes. But it is the way God wants it to be, and it takes away a lot of fear that I am responsible for making my future work. I am not responsible. I am called to follow in the steps that are laid out for me. And I will do it. 

No matter what God calls me to. 

Monday, July 14, 2008


I crave intimacy. This has been a general theme of my life up until this point. I'm only realizing that now, but when I apply that sentence to the various stages and conditions of my life, it applies. I do the things I do because I crave intimacy.

I want it in every sense of the word. I want to know and be known. I want to share my deepest feelings with someone. I want to comfort and be comforted. I want to hold and be held. I desire emotional and physical intimacy very deeply. I feel incomplete when the yearning strikes me strongest.

Sometimes it hits me when I see a couple who clearly love God and love each other. Sometimes I feel it in especially poignant scenes in movies (Garden State has several scenes that just level me emotionally). Sometimes it'll be something especially beautiful in nature, or in drawn/painted art. The best spiritual talks always do.

But it is music that causes me to yearn the most. I sometimes yearn for the intimacy of being in a band again. There's something unspeakably joyful to me about four guys all giving their all to bring something new into the world. They have to know each other or the songs don't turn out right - they have to be intimate or the magic doesn't happen. I miss playing "We're Going Down" with TL. I miss playing "Drowning Isn't Hard." I miss jamming most of all - the spontaneous outworkings of knowing each other's playing styles intimately. Jams don't work if you don't have intimacy between the band members.

I feel it when I listen to music. "Table for Two" by Caedmon's Call has been a big one for this lately. It starts off like this:

"Danny and I spent another late night over pancakes/talking bout soccer and how every man's just the same./Made speculations about the whos and the whens of our future/how everyone's lonely, but still, we just couldn't complain."

It goes on to outline the basic problem that I have now: a longing for physical intimacy with a woman that is overtaking the desire to do what the narrator knows is right (have faith in God). "Oh, and I just hate being alone," Derek Webb calmly displays. But he comes back with "But I forget whose house I live in."

I often forget that I live in God's house. Sometimes I think it's because I haven't actually lived in the house of God, or that I've just been visiting his goodness. But mostly I just forget that I live there because I don't take the time to explore it. I'm like a man who lives in a mansion and stays in one room, looking out a window and longing to go outside. If I would just embrace the mansion and its joys, which include all of the joys of "outside" and more!

But I don't go, because I am afraid. I am afraid of the unknown, I am afraid of the new, I am afraid of letting things go.

So instead of pouring into this relationship with God, so I can get the intimacy I crave, I long for a relationship with a woman. It's not a bad longing - God created it in me. But it has overtaken my desire to explore God.

This is where my last four or five years come in. I have exchanged the wonder, work and pain of getting to know God more for the wonder, work and pain of male/female relationships. In my mind, chasing after girls (even Godly girls) was much easier and required much less of me than getting to know God.

That is not true. Getting to know God is infinitely easier than getting to know a girl because of this fact: God already knows everything about me. God already loves me. God always, always, always wants what is best for me. I don't have to worry about what God is feeling towards me. He loves me.

This is not always true of a girl. I spent a lot of time trying to 'win girls over to my side' and 'store up good tidings' and all that. I needed a defense against bad moods and unexpected traumas. If life were fair, those things would have worked. But inevitably (because we all are fallen), the good tidings I had stored up would evaporate in the face of someone's pain and suffering. It's the human response. I did it to the girls I dated. I'm not singling myself out as a victim here, other than a victim of my own selfishness.

And so I chased after girls because I could have intimacy with them. I neglected to have intimacy with God, but at that point in my life I was down with that.

Now I am not okay with that. I desire intimacy with God because he is the only one who will remain constant, even through death of those I love and finally me.

The problem is that the desire for physical intimacy that I cultivated with my first three relationships is making it difficult to grasp the concept of intimacy with God. I 'fixed' my yearning for intimacy by making out with girls. I made it go away, and that was what I wanted it to do. It was a good short-term plan. I used it copiously as a short-term plan. I wish I had foresight, but my foresight was hindered by visions of the relationship's future (who ponders post-relationship heart status while in a relationship?, I thought).

Now the long-term is here, and I am feeling the consequences of my selfishness. I miss physical intimacy quite badly, and even more than that, it is getting in the way of me knowing God. I have the yearning knocking on the door of my heart stronger than ever, and I want to turn to God to fill it - he is the one knocking. But my sinful nature (sinful heart), equates the longing with cuddling, hugging, kissing hand-holding and all that. So the more I long for God, the stronger my longing gets to be with a girl.

It's hard to understand intimacy with God in the first place, but when it's all mucked up with a desire for physical intimacy as a consequence of prior selfish choices, it gets very, very hard.

I find that swaying in a hammock is one of the most comforting things to me as of late. It feels like God is rocking me back and forth. It is an awe-inspiring feeling, even if it is only in my head, that God would have physical intimacy with me.

There's a verse somewhere that says God's followers will worship in spirit and in truth. We worship in spirit because God is spirit. I have to be intimate in spirit with him because he is spirit. And it is unfortunate that I made the decisions I did, that have caused me all this trouble. But it is just another thing for God to conquer on the road of my life.

So I struggle to know what "intimacy with God" looks like, feels like, is like. I'm trying to separate it from my ideas and desires for "intimacy with my wife." I am training myself to go to scripture when I crave intimacy; but it is still a truth that I want to cuddle more than I want to run to scripture when I feel the yearning in "Shadow Proves the Sunshine" by Switchfoot.

"Two scared little runaways/hold fast to the break of daylight/The shadow proves the sunshine/The shadow proves the sunshine."

God is always the final word. May you and I both know it as we search for intimacy with God.

The good thing is that I am already known.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Wheelchair Fistfights

So I had to move a wheelchair from the chapel to the down under, which is about a minute-long walk downhill. So, since you don't often get to use a wheelchair, I decided to roll in the wheelchair the entire way.

Conclusion: Never get in a fistfight with a man in a wheelchair. His arms are probably way stronger than yours. No kidding.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Why I like: Mismatches

They were playing Keyhole Tag to "Chicago" by Sufjan Stevens today. I'm not sure how a gently rolling folk symphony about a roadtrip full of emotive confessions is a soundtrack to violent and hotly contested cabin battles, but somehow it happened.

I laughed out loud, and loved the fact that life happens that way. It made the game seem more epic, in a way.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

God and his plans

So I was bummed that I didn't have any way cool plans for this free evening.

So I bummed around, and this is what God decided to accomplish:

1. I talked to one of my best friends for an hour unexpectedly.
2. I introduced someone to an internship opportunity they wouldn't have otherwise had, and got to talk God with them.
3. I got to leave messages for many of my friends on their phones.
4. I asked the cashier at Wal-mart if I could pray for her. God amazed even myself on that one.

So basically, God took an evening that I thought was going to be blah and made it pretty incredible. I love it. God is awesome.