The Idolatry of Need

need.pngAs a husband and a father of two with one on the way being unemployed is burdensome. Living in your in-laws basement and having your wife work full time just to cover bills isn’t the boyhood dream we have as young men. I need more.

More responsibility. 

More income. 

More output. 

More grownups to talk to. 

As a man, we need to feel as though we are providing. Providing care for my children is the hardest and most amazing job I’ve ever had. I am excited for school to start, though. Then why do I need more? Why is my desire to be he breadwinner so insatiable? Moreover, why do I live in a world, society, community, time… to which it is so difficult to live the dream of owning a home, raising kids and having the cool new f150 in the driveway?

Ok, lets be honest I don’t need a shiny new f150. Or even my own home. But, I do need a place to live. I do need to feed my family. I do need to pay insurance and credit card bills.

I need.

I have need.

In Exodus we read, “No other gods, only me” as one of Gods commandments to his people.

Crap.

Can my needs be an idol? I spend more time worrying about my freaking bills getting paid than I do the wonderful and amazing gifts that I have been given from God.

I spend more time on indeed.com than I do on Bible.com.

I spend more time needing than I do worshiping.

Dammit.

My needs are my idol.

My needs have distracted me from God under the guise of necessity. It’s easy to justify a my attention when I NEED _________________! (Insert: credit card payment, student loan payment, gas money, food, diapers, a job to pay for all the diapers)

Paul writes in his letter to the Philippians,

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”

Pray?

… I do that.

…… I also worry.

I worry more than I pray and I search for a job more than I petition God. My need is my center.

My center needs displacement.

Matthew writes,

“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.”

Is God-reality about me needing a job? No, that’s a human-reality. Is God-initiative getting me a credit card payment? Nope, that’s a Chase-initiative. Does God care if I go bankrupt? I sure hope so.

What happens when Christ displaces need? Will I need a job any more by focusing on God instead of jobs.com? Will my car payment get paid by worrying about where it’s coming from?

My need has become my god and I need my God to become my need. 

Jesus said, “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘… Give us today our daily bread.'”

I must work hard, be diligent, use my brain and the resources around me to provide for my family. But, I must keep the star-breathing, creator-king at the center of my need.

Those who don’t know how God works worry. I want to be one of those who KNOW how God works.

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Who Will Hold My Hand!?

“Where does it come from? This quest, this need to solve life’s mysteries when the simplest of questions can never be answered. Why are we here? What is the soul? Why do we dream? perhaps we’d be better off not looking at all, not delving, not yearning, but that’s not human nature, not the human heart, that is not why we are here. Yet still we struggle to make a difference… to change the world… to dream of hope. Never certain of who we will meet along the way… Who among this world of strangers will hold our hand, share our hearts, and share the pain of trying [to change the world]” – Heroes

Where have you turned, where are you looking for the help you need? Who is holding your hand? Where are you searching for purpose? Are you an alcoholic, gay, anorexic, abusive? Are you lost? We have this thing inside of us, deep in our souls that craves purpose and belonging… We know that there is more to it than this… We want to change the world or at least save it. But we are so wrecked by it…. so destroyed by the very world we want to save… that we lose sight of the calling… the yearning of our souls to be needed.

Bear with me for a second… Lets dream together for a moment. Lets dream of a world filled with love. What would it be like if no one ever stole anything, or murdered, or lied? What would it be like if there was not one homeless person, not one hungry person… What if relationships never ended… hearts were never broken? What if no child was abandoned or aborted…. What if no one was lonely, but in constant community? If this was the case would there ever be a suicide… war… prison? What if… Some would call this heaven, but what if Christ is offering a heaven on earth. Is it within reach? Can we even begin to head in this direction? We can… all we have to do is humble ourselves… and hope for such a destiny. We each have a role to play… We are each given gifts… and at the same time we are each given crap, stuff that we have to survive or have survived. Can we use the crap to help someone else through theirs?

I know a guy… He went through Hell… Most of us can say we have been through hell… what that means to you may be different from what it means to someone else… There is even a song about it.. It goes something like this:

“Well you know those times when you feel like there’s a sign there on your back? Says I don’t mind if you kick me. Seems like everybody has things going from bad to worse. You’d think they can’t get worse than that and then they do. You step off the straight and narrow, and you don’t know where you are. Use the needle of your compass to sew up your broken heart, ask directions from a genie in a bottle of Jim Beam, and she lies to you that’s when you learn the truth. If you’re going through hell, keep on going, don’t slow down. If you’re scared, don’t show it, you might get out before the devil even knows you’re there. Well I’ve been deep down in that darkness. I’ve been down to my last match. Felt a hundred different demons breathing fire down my back, and I knew that if I stumbled I’d fall right into the trap that they were laying. But the good news

is there are angels everywhere out on the street. Holding out a hand to pull you back up on your feet. The one’s that you’ve been dragging for so long. You’re on your knees, you might as well be praying, guess what I’m saying?” ~ Rodney Atkins

This guy… that went through hell… He made it out alive… The only thing that was different for Him than the guy in the song… is that the devil knows His name… and he will never forget it. His name is Jesus Christ… and He went to Hell for you… and he said a few things that should help us get through it… And the funny thing is… if we listened to Him and were capable of really understanding what He is saying… that world that we were dreaming about… would cease to be a dream… it would be reality. That’s why I must say that if there is one true God and that His Son, Jesus of Nazareth, was God on earth… He knows what we are all going through and we can’t deny that if we did what he told us to… we would live in a world… that was Heaven!

To Live Is To What!?

I am amazed by the Bible sometimes.

It’s so….

Opposite!

They say get rich

He says give it all away

They say defend your honor

He says turn the other cheek

They say let them die in prison

He says visit them

They say give them what they deserve

He says pray for them

They say the powerful will have everything

He says the poor will inherit the Kingdom

They say go with the crowd

He says go the lonely way

They say follow your heart

He says guard your heart

They say don’t worry be happy

He says you will be happy when life sucks

They say get well

He say’s the sick will be saved

They say get revenge

He say’s never quit forgiving

They say love the lovable

He say’s love until it kills you

They say move on

He say’s blessed are those who mourn

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Alive, I’m Christ’s messenger; dead, I’m His bounty. Life versus more life! I can’t lose.

Dripping Words

Your words drip onto the pages of my life like the wax of a candle, burning all through the night. The words so fresh and so warm, formable and exotic, they fall onto the dry paper and within in seconds they are hard, they cannot move and they cannot be changed. Sometimes I look at the pages of my life. I skim over the chicken scratches that are my own, but I find my self focused on the pages that were written in such beautiful penmanship, obvious to anyone that they are not my words. Some fell so beautifully onto my pages, others are simply there. They are stained into my pages like scars on the face of a Spartan warrior. Some words still fresh enough to wish that I could wipe them clean off, but as with the wax of a candle, it’s bottom layer is immovable. My attempts would be in vain, for it will only make a bigger mess.

In this life, it is when we love the most that we are hurt the deepest. When we allow others to write on our pages, we open that book and we lay it on the table, so willing, so open, and vulnerable to their words. We want them; we want those words lightly and passionately laid on our pages. To see one write on your pages is like watching an artist paint, laying the scene stroke by stroke. How beautiful.

It’s when the words we don’t want to hear come flowing onto our pages like a volcanic eruption. Un-prepared, we scatter to close the book, to grab it and run away with it so the wax can’t be spilt. However, the very nature of words dictates otherwise. Our books, so open for so long that sometimes we cannot close them… in fact we beg and plead for more in hopes that a few more strokes of that pen will revive the story. It doesn’t, it’s just more wax spilled, more pages stained. The eruption of worlds scolds and tatters the pages like molten lava destroys a mountain, and creates eternal scars.

Your words are mine forever. They have created their own valleys and burned paths that will be visited for years to come. Mostly by me but occasionally there will be the tourist who wants to see the laden land, scared by your word-lava.

My book is a vast land, filled with many unwritten pages and un-scolded wildlife. Soon to be written on with life, beautiful life that accompanies the stains with artistic sweeps of a pen, creating colors unknown and ideas never seen. My book is not finished and I am not the author. May your pen be gentle and the wax of your candle mark beauty and not suffering, for I will remember these moments, they are mine for all time.

Alethia’s Mirror

She was beautiful.  From the day she was born she had never seen a mirror.  She is an adult now, in her early twenties, and she has never seen herself.  She has no idea what she looks like.  All she sees is the reactions of others when they see her, but more so what others look like. She does not know what beauty is.  She knows what makes her feel beautiful, and she knows who makes her feel beautiful. She compares her beauty to the beauty of others.  When she is told, she feels her soul dancing in the moonlight under a million stars, and her heart sores to the sky and she is suddenly and momentarily free.  She is free from every thought and every haunting fear of loneliness and meaninglessness.  It’s an addictive flow of lifting chemicals in her brain, but more significantly it brings her to a new place.  She feels as if she is safe, as if no one could ever harm her or bring her down, for she is beautiful.  Her beauty is her identity; it’s all she is. When she feels beautiful she feels at home with her self.  However she spends most of her time alone and lost inside of her own prison of insignificance, she feels like a ghost who not only goes unseen but would do whatever it costs to make sure no one see’s her.

She can’t see her for herself.  She can tell herself all day that she is beautiful, but the world wins out.  It is a losing game.  She desperately wants to be seen, and judged worthy of all things lovely.  She craves to be the most beautiful princess in the entire world, but she cannot find herself.  She wonders her mind in sleepless nights, opening every door and looking under every bush, just to find that one thing that will show her who she is.  She has yet to discover a mirror.

Evelyn looks to men to find her beauty and her meaning, but they never seem to measure up. The void in her soul is never quite filled. “There is just something missing, it’s just not quite there”, she says.  “He must not be the one, there must be another who can sweep me off my feet and take me to that place of ultimate intimacy, where my heart sings forever the songs of love and beauty.”  She turns to her wonderful dresses and royal attire that make her feel as though she is the Cinderella of the night.  She wears them out, the expensive robes and jewelry fit only for a princess no longer feel the part, in fact now she feels somewhat like an imposter. “I don’t deserve beauty, the world keeps telling me that I am not worth it.” This is just one of the million thoughts running and jumping and coming as quickly as they fade into darker, deeper self-torturing thoughts.

Then one night, in the middle of her dreaded sleep, she awoke to a frightening clatter.  She looked all around the room but it was too dark to see a thing. She reached over and lit her small candle… She slowly picked it up and waved it around her room trying to discover the culprit of this frightful awakening.  She saw an older woman standing in the corner.  This woman was the most beautiful person she had ever seen. Evelyn felt as thought the woman’s immensely stunning beauty would make her feel inferior, but to her surprise she felt perfectly suitable in her own skin.  She timidly asked the woman what she was doing in her room.  “Oh Evelyn, I am here to show you something beautiful.” Evelyn held back every obvious return of words. “Surely there is nothing more beautiful than you…” a long pause in her voice as she tried to figure out what to call this intruder of the night.  “… I’m sorry, what is your name?” she asked, feeling somewhat awkward. “My name is Alethia”, the woman said in the softest yet most meaningful voice Evelyn had ever heard.  “I am here to show you who you really are.” Evelyn got out of her bed, lugging a newly lit lantern with her. She stumbled over to the woman and almost suddenly saw something very strange. She stared at for a few moments before being interrupted by Alethia.  “Do you know what you are looking at?” Evelyn had no idea… she couldn’t even begin to understand who she was looking at. It was as if there was another person in the room, only this person was somehow more amazing and more beautiful than Alethia. “Who is that”, she asked in fear and wonderful amazement.  “That is you, my dear child, that is how I see you.  You see Evelyn, I made you and everything I make is perfect, just the way it is.  And you, Life, are beautiful!”  Evelyn looked at the woman very confused and uttered one word as though it was a question, “Life?” “Yes my dear, that is what your name means, I chose that name for you because I knew that this day would come and that you would finally find life, life and more life! You know who you are now.”  Evelyn asked with a child like curiosity, “And what does your name mean?” Alethia looked at her as though she couldn’t think of a better question she could have asked, “My name mean ‘Truth’, because I am the one and only person in the entire universe who can show you how beautiful you truly are. You will never find true beauty in anyone but me, and no one can ever allow you to feel this way about yourself without me.”

Evelyn had finally seen herself in a mirror.  You see she had a mirror her whole life, but it was by no means a true reflection, all these mirrors did was show her what she didn’t have and what was wrong according to what everything else was telling her. But when she finally saw herself in Alethia’s (Truth’s) mirror, she saw her true, deep-rooted beauty that she could only find in the perfect mirror.

Eve’s beauty was not something defined by men, or by the world in general, it was defined by her creator.  Eve was perfect by design, from head to toe, inside and out her beauty was incomparable to the moon and the stars.  The beauty of a sunset after a light rain in the early evening was nothing compared to her skin reflecting a softly lit candle.  Her eyes were like a million stars shinning brightly on the darkest of nights.  Her identity was no longer in those things or people that made her feel beautiful, it was in her creator, Truth.

Now that her identity was in Truth he could see her.  She was the girl of his dreams.  Her beauty made his soul dance on beaches, constantly slammed by waves of new and glorious emotions he’d never felt before.  His identity in his creator, truth, was now coupled with hers and the fireworks soared into the sky in beautiful worship of coupled fulfillment to their creator.  Adam and Evelyn were gifts from God to one another; they were one another’s mirrors. But when Evelyn looked into Adam’s mirror it didn’t point back at her, it pointed right to Alethia’s mirror, which reminded her constantly of her true beauty in her creator, God.

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