Thursday, October 22, 2009

Follow the (Red) Light

I left the house this morning with the battery warning light on in my car. I stared at the glowing red symbol and thought, “you don’t matter.” It stared back and said, “you’ll be sorry,” as I struggled to pull my common sense back to my side of the argument. My battery light had been flickering on and off for days. I had my battery tested and its function was normal. I was on my way to Medford for a doctor’s appointment. It was 7am. I had my coffee, my tunes, and my paper-clipped bundle of coupons for Costco from my mom. I was ready to check off my Medford to-do list as fast as I could: get in, get done and get out.
As I was heading over the pass, listening intently to a comedy sketch by Jerry Seinfeld on my iPod, Jerry’s voice suddenly plummeted – it sounded like it was being sucked through a vortex – then silence. I thought my speakers went out… how annoying. The red battery light (Yes it was still on. I know. Idiot was slowly being etched across my forehead.) shone on unflinchingly, taunting me with its sarcasm: “It’s your speakers. Right.
When my car did a few awkward lunges through road construction before Ashland, I decided to pull over, rolling my eyes that I was conceding to a battery light! I left my car running and made a few phone calls, trying to scrounge up a ride, but I only reached my cousin in Ashland who offered me her… bike? No thanks. My gearshift was locked and that little red light was still blaring, brighter than any red light should be allowed to blare. Then, somehow, the menacing light blinked off and my car shifted into gear! With caution I pulled out and drove on old Highway 99 to Medford. I made it to my appointment, a little late, and eventually to Central point to get my alternator fixed. Somehow I felt a little triumphant that the red light telling me the battery was dying wasn’t 100% accurate. Turns out the alternator was draining my car battery while it was running, but the battery itself is as healthy as a horse.
So besides being late for my doctor’s appointment and having to wait an hour and a half at an old fashioned burger place in Central Point - where I eavesdropped on two strangers debating politics through a cheap glass partition adorned with ghastly orange and yellow spiral shaped illustrations of citrus slices - I really was inconvenienced very little.
I headed to Costco to take advantage of the coupons and then headed home, pretty much stress free. There are three morals to this tale:
#1 – Things generally seem worse than they actually are.
#2 – Pay attention to your car’s warning lights.
#3 – It’s pretty stupid to have psychological arguments with inanimate objects. (They usually win.)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Love Weed, Love God

It's an interesting topic for so many reasons. Oh, and I wasn't even counting the ones involving marijuana, (or cannibas if you're reading a police report, but who am I kidding? Who reads police reports besides journalists who then translate it back to marijuana so Joe sixth grader - who probably smokes dope - can understand? Those were two very pointless sentences, but I don't think I wanted to delete them.) so the reasons probably just at least tripled.
I bet you can't guess what my reason for writing about Weed is though. Well, besides the fact that I grew up here, love it here, hate it here, left here and now am back here. It's none of those. Today Weed, just the thought of this place, turned my mind toward the amazing love I experience from God all the time, even if it's not recognized by me. (Bet you didn't see that one coming.)
My mind has been storing and filing away tid bits of information about God's love lately, through different experiences, thoughts and encounters, but tonight as I drove home from the high school where I was working on my senior project and stressing about it, I suddenly observed the sad little town I was driving through. I don't think the drizzling rain really helped uplift my mood, either. That thought started a chain reaction in my mind, like dominoes or ripples or any other word picture you can think of. (And I'm pretty sure there are more.) I thought about how so many people I know here are depressed and down on their luck, or beating themselves up about things they've done or mistakes they've made. I thought about the gutter of the same depressing routine people get themselves into here. I thought how it's kind of adding insult to inury that on top of all their other problems, they live in Weed.
When your mind is on this type of track, Weed honestly doesn't have much to offer, except the new bar on Main Street. What a significant improvement to our little space of cohabitation. I'm sure Papa's Place and the bar in the bowling alley weren't enough for our expansive downtown street. The array of lit beer signs in the window really add something to the street at night.
Back to my chain reaction of thoughts, though. Thinking about other people's unfortunate situations naturally turned my mind to my own situation. I've felt kind of stressed out and hopeless lately, which I mark as things I most likely have in common with the unfortunates of my mind during this whole thought process.
Then, it was like this little light turned on in my head. God loves me, even if I'm stressed out and am only seeing things with a bleak perspective. He loves me A LOT. Then I said a little prayer of thanks to God that I am aware of His love for me. Some of the people in my mind are not aware of it, or at least they are choosing to go through life without taking advantage of it, or comfort in it. It seemed quite perfect, and probably was the cause of the light bulb turning on in my head, that The David Crowder Band's song "How He Loves Us" from their new album was on. It took on a deeper meaning for me. Then it didn't matter that it was cold and drizzly outside.
There's a line in "How He Loves Us" that says, "And I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about how He loves us." Chris Tomlin says, "You see the depths of my heart and You love me the same." Pastor Bill says, "God knows what you've done and He loves you anyway." Isaiah 57:18 says, "I have seen his ways and will heal him. I will also lead you and restore comforts to him and his mourners." Romans 5:5 remedies my thoughts of hopelessness, "Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us all."
Weed needs to acknowlege this love much, much more. I need to show this love to Weed much, much more while I'm here. The reciprocation for this kind of love should be to love back. Weed provides a perfect opportunity for me to do this. Love for God = love for others. John 4:19, "We love Him because He first loved us."
Two moments that were precursers to this illumination, some of the tid bits of information I filed away, were in observing God's creation. First when I rounded a corner on the road and my windshield was filled with the exploding scenery of trees in full fall color and the mountain barely dusted with snow against a pure blue sky. Second, when I stepped out of my car the other night and tilted my head toward the sky - smooth black pierced with pinpricks of glowing, sparkling white. There is definitely something about the stars in Edgewood. (Edgewood has one up on Weed in this area for sure. Don't believe me? You're welcome to visit.)
Isaiah 40:26, "Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, who brings out their host by number. He calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power not one is missing."
It's very easy to forget but so essential to remember: God loves me. It enables us to rise up, press on, serve and worship Him better. It's better than anything. Ever.

PS - I am very proud of myself that I didn't mention A.W. Tozer at all in this post. Just saying. It had the potential to be much longer, but stop yawning - I'm done.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Flames Divide, Cedars Split

When I was at Capernwray Hall we had a mandatory day of prayer. Of course they couldn’t enforce us to pray but the idea was that we would spend the entire day alone with God. I remember Trevor encouraging us to spend some of our time listening to God. When he said that, I cringed internally because:

This has always been one of the hardest things for me to grasp and take seriously as a Christian – hearing God. I don’t mean to, and it’s not like I don’t attribute validity to what people mean when they say things like, God told me to go here or do that or say this… but I tend to close off somewhat to statements of that nature. There may be a tinge of unbelief in me, or sometimes a bit of resentment that it doesn’t come as easily recognizable to me. Deep down I think some people are too loose with the term "God told me to." I'm trying to figure out how I can be such a devout (at least I like to think I’m devout) Christian and be so unfamiliar with the Voice of God. It’s a little disconcerting. I think because God is so other than me that it’s hard to grasp how He can speak to me. Communication in the other direction doesn’t cause a problem for me, though. Being able to talk to the God who created me, loves me and deserves my unending praise is awesome. When He wants to respond to my prayers, though? Wait… what? Um… how do I hear it? How do I know for sure that’s what He’s saying? (That’s where faith comes in, which is another whole topic in itself, but extremely related.)

The POWER alone associated with the voice of God is mind-boggling. Psalm 33:6 says, “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.” Verse 9 says, “For He spoke and it was done. He commanded and it stood fast.” All throughout Genesis 1 it’s seen: “Then God said… and it was so.” Psalm 29 (one of my absolute favorite Psalms) speaks about the power of God’s voice (read it!!).

I’m reading “The Pursuit of God” by A.W. Tozer right now, and frankly, I could probably write lengthy posts about each chapter in that book... (as you can see from my previous post, haha) but I’ll try to not do that. I encourage you to read it if you haven’t already. The chapter I just read is entitled “The Speaking Voice,” go figure. It seriously convicted me that I need to focus so much more of my prayer and devotion time on disciplining my ability to listen to God.

If you thought you were going to get through this post without a quote from Tozer, haha. Too bad. Or just stop reading now. But actually don’t, because Tozer is so much better to read than me. One of the fundamental things regarding the Voice of God that helps me understand this whole concept is that the Bible is God’s word (and consequently voice) in my life. Tozer says, (here comes the quote!)

“A man may say, ‘These words are addressed to me,’ and yet in his heart not feel
and know that they are. […] The Bible is the inevitable outcome of God’s
continuous speech. It is the infallible declaration of His mind for us put into
our familiar human words. I think a new world will arise out of the religious
mists when we approach the Bible with the idea that it is not only a book which
was once spoken, but a book which is now speaking. The prophets habitually said,
‘Thus saith the LORD.’ They meant their hearers to understand that God’s
speaking is in the continuous present. We may use the past tense properly to
indicate that at a certain time a certain word of God was spoken but a word of
God once spoken continues to be spoken, as a child once born continues to be
alive, or a world once created continues to exist. And those are but imperfect
illustrations, for children die and worlds burn out, but the Word of our God
endureth forever.”

I don’t think I have been ignoring the voice of God in my life. I think I’ve just perhaps been scraping by with the bare minimum of listening to God. Of course a relationship has to have two way communication, so to grow even closer to the God I love, I have to increase my awareness of His voice by disciplining my hearing skills to be sharper.

“Come at once to the open Bible expecting it to speak to you. Do not come with
the notion that it is a thing which you may push around at your convenience.
It is more than a thing; it is a voice, a word, the very Word of the living
God.” –Tozer

That mindset is vital to hearing God’s voice in my life! Like Tozer I want to pray that I will get used to the sound of God’s voice, that its tones may be familiar when the sounds of the earth die away and the only sound will be the music of His speaking voice.