Investments

We make a lot of investments into this life. We have health insurance, car insurance, life insurance. All kinds of money to be paid to us if and when bad things happen. We go to school for years and years, and years. We train ourselves to do work.

We buy homes. Buildings and land. We work our whole lives to pay off the homes we purchase. We buy cars,, clothes, gold and jewelry. We buy things to last.

Some of us get more things to invest in than others. Rich people get a lot.

Which leads me to my story of the young rich man who came to Jesus looking for absolution.

Matthew 19:16 The young man came to Jesus to ask ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life.’ Jesus’ answer is not good enough for him. He perhaps means to show piety of some kind by asking further. Jesus tells him to sell all he has and follow Jesus.

The man is sad and goes away. He loses out on eternal life, and why? He invested too much into this one.

When I was little, I would think to myself ‘ if being grown means I can’t play this or that, then I don’t want to grow up.’ or ‘if I can’t have my toys in heaven, I don’t want to go.’ I didn’t have much, but what I have, the life I have, I couldn’t imagine it being better.

God blesses us in this life with many things to enjoy, and we shouldn’t feel guilty for enjoying them. But hold it all in an open hand because what God gives, He can take away.

He is what we seek.

Investments

Works over and over

I know I think a lot about works, because I have tension about the fact that I might not be doing them, and I like the idea of grace getting me off the hook.

The truth is that there are works. But they come out of grace and following hard after Christ.

They are tricky though because doing works with the wrong kind of heart are not righteous. We can’t rely on our works for our salvation.

DeitrichMatthew 19:16 Bonhoeffer covers it well, and I wanted to share one example.

The rich young man came to Christ and asked what he must do to achieve eternal life. Jesus tells him from the scripture to keep the commandments. He says he has and what else? It is this comment that is telling. He wants to look better than everybody else. I have kept these commandments. Now give me something extra. So Jesus does: sell your belongings. Oops, that is not what he had in mind. He goes away sad.

It wasn’t the possessions that was the issue. The issue was the issue of discipleship. When Jesus called the disciples, he said to come and follow. They dropped what they did and followed.

So here is the thing: What Jesus wants is a ‘yes’ when he tells us to follow him. Giving up our possessions is a great commitment, but it’s not going to guarantee us salvation. It might give us a freedom in Christ, but if Christ hasn’t asked us to do it, it’s not going to give us more salvation than anybody else.

We look at the people of scripture and the great men and women of the church, and admire what they did. But doing what they did gives us nothing if it’s not a call from the Lord, a pure heart and a lack of trust in our actions to save us.

I think what it is, is acting with a pure heart, loving God, having an attitude of prayer and sacrifice. Letting the greats of church history to inspire us. Just don’t copy them instead of relying on Christ and following what his plan is for us individually.

I always write these things because they mean something to me, not that I am so good at doing them. For me, the check in my heart is to not read things like this with relief because I haven’t been doing what I think or feel I should be. It’s not a pass.

So, don’t read the story of this rich young man and say ‘whew, I’m glad I don’t have to give away my riches.’ Also, don’t read it and say ‘If I give away my riches, it counts toward my salvation.’ Try to have a disposition and a heard toward saying ‘yes’ to what he has asked.

Works over and over

Through it all

I believe. I have believed and I will believe. That is the one thing in my life that has been a constant.

I have had painful situations that I’ve spoken about at length. The amount of pain and suffering, the intensity, it is nothing really, it’s what humans go through in this world.

What I find now is that there is a level of sadness I have achieved that is just going to be there. I’ll learn to live with it, adapt. But life is sad. Bittersweet. At this age, there are hopes and dreams that were not fulfilled, and probably won’t be. Coming to terms with that has been hard.

In April of 2013, my life changed. Before that time, there was a lot of pain, leading up to the separation, but on that date, I started a different kid of living.

At that time, I was like a Romanian orphan. Seriously. Eating, sleeping, living…I could really not take care of myself. There were a whole lot of reasons for me to want to die. As a bipolar person, I do think of suicide every day. I’ve said that before. When I look back, I have no idea why I didn’t do it then.

Well, I believe God had serious coverage over me at that time. There had to be a shred of hope for a better life. If there wasn’t hope of my own, it was just the Lord protecting me. I’m glad I am alive today.

Life isn’t comfortable, it won’t ever be, but I think just trying to make a home wherever you are. If I was in jail, I would get clothes and food. There would be a routine, and I would etch out an existence. Create beautify where I could. I’m not saying it would be easy, and maybe if it happened I would change my tune, but it just seems true to me that I can be content in a heck of a lot of situations.

Through it all

Sorrow

I had the chance to read a card my mom got from a longtime friend. It spoke to me!

The card told of many medical and other problems among the members of her family. All of the situations were real. They were worthy of lament.

The problem is that those were the only things she shared.

I think we get tunnel vision when we are in the midst of our problems and sometimes we allow ourselves to be swept away. I do it all the time. It’s the whole deal about how a toothache can nag at you. The pain makes it hard to focus on the other things.

In the middle of my pain, what flows out is naturally what hurts me. God doesn’t want us to get stuck.

I have used quite a few methods to move through the pain and stay with it.

First: I look at other kinds of suffering in the world, and my comforts, and adjust my entitlement meter. Not that my pain isn’t real. It hurts where other people are suffering or not. But it opens the door for gratitude.

Second: Flows from the first. Make a gratitude list. It’s that simple.

Third: Share.  Keep in mind the blessings as well as the curses but share it somewhere. In a meeting, with a friend, with the clergy. The pain is real. So are the blessings.

There are others, but since I don’t practice them, I can’t share their effectiveness. But I do plan on practicing them. And that’s for real. I am able to fight back. It took a while, but it’s true.

Look at Isaiah 53:1-3: He was a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief.

The phrase ‘bitterest grief’ strikes me. This is in the NLT. I’m sure others are quite different. But in my walk, I am constantly working on rejecting bitterness. Thank God for Jesus. I couldn’t do it without him.

Sorrow

In Plain Sight

I’ve copped to missing the forest for the trees, and I’m reminded all the time that I miss things, and those things are there to understand when I am ready.

I’ll give a couple of examples:

Today I was reading Exodus, the actual exodus, and I opened my eyes up and discovered that the Israelites crossed the river during the night. I always assumed it was daylight. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but how many times does a person have to read it? How many times did I gloss over the whole text and not pay attention?

The other is the movie ‘Exam.’ It’s a mind twisting movie from Britain. In it, 8 candidates are in a room to take an exam that will lead to a job in a very large mysterious organization. The test is simple: there is one questions before you, and one answer. The candidates have 80 minutes to find the question with some rules in place for disqualification purposes. The paper that is in front of them is blank.

The answer is deceptively simple, and when I saw it, I had a real gotcha moment. I’m sure there are some people who would get it right away. Congratulations to them.

It’s about paying attention and noticing. I suppose that, like anything else, requires practice.

In Plain Sight