Dé Luain, Bealtaine 22, 2006

Alone on the train...

I went into the city yesterday for the last time, well...at least for a while. I sang in church with a male quartet, got rousing applause for my high A at the end of the song, cleaned up, changed, and hopped the train into the city. I've just started reading Miller's "Searching for God knows what." I'm going to love it as much as I loved "Blue Like Jazz," but I think this one will make me think more. It already has in some ways. We talk about putting God in a box, and how that's bad, but do we ever really think about how we've put God in that box to begin with? I'm still beginning to think about this for myself so I won't attempt to answer that now, but there have been other snippets that have caught me off guard. Here was the first:

"My friend who owns the coffee shops told us, in a tone of kindness and truth, that nobody he knows who is successful gambles; rather, they work hard, they accept the facts of reality, they enjoy life as it is. 'But the facts of reality stink,' I told him. 'Reality is like a fine wine,' he said to me. 'It will not appeal to children.'

The author and I share something in common...actually I think we have lot in common, but that's beside the point. We both hate self-help books. I can't stand them and it really makes me angry to see them in Christian bookstores. First the idea that what will help us as humans is already inside us, when the Bible states that nothing we do with prosper outside of God is just a little confusing to me. Second, they mostly seem to be about making yourself happy, wealthy, or good looking or some other such nonsense. Third, this is where Miller and I really agree, there all very formulaic. Follow steps one, two, and three to achieve true enlightenment and a fuller wallet. I can name two people who've achieved the same goal through the same process. If you can please tell me, I'd love to be enlightened.

Being a lover of a good glass of wine, I'm not a connoisseur by any stretch of the word, I can completely relate to the previous statement. My family goes to the Outer Banks, North Carolina every summer for vacation. If you've not gone, get up and go, it really is the best vacation spot ever. Last summer we took some time and sampled some of the local wines, everyone has a local wine now. Dad picked up one and we opened it for dinner. Now my brother who is trying things for the first time, because he's better than I was, was completely disgusted that we would choose to drink something so foul. Nothing about it appealed to him, a complete waste of taste. Now to be honest it wasn't the best tasting wine in the world and it was defiantly a bit too sweet for my tastes. But that was the difference between us, My parents and I commented on it, said things about it both good and bad, we enjoyed the taste for what it was, we appreciated it. By brother on the other hand couldn't tell you anything about the taste except that he didn't like it. Only someone immature complains about something they don't understand.

The second excerpt was this:
"But I suppose I can't blame him because, in my life, god is always changing the way I think of Him. I am not saying God Himself is changing, or that my theology is open and I blur the lines on truth; I am only saying I think I know who He is, then I figure out I don't know very much at all. For instance, and as I have said, a lot of people believe God responds to formulas, but He doesn't. So that is one example of how our idea of God is always becoming a bit more accurate. And that's one of the things you notice about Jesus in the Gospels, that He is always going around saying, You have heard it said such and such, but I tell you some other thing. If you happened to be a person who thought they knew everything about God, Jesus would have been completely annoying."

Longer I know, and I'm not going to comment on it, except for this. What makes people think they speak for God? What amount of knowledge do you have to gain to come to the conclusion that you know exactly what God would do? How small of a god would you have to serve? Santa Clause is not God, Santa doesn't even exist.

I stopped into a Church yesterday evening, The Journey. They’re a very fascinating church and if I lived in the City it's were I would be spending my time. Their service is very much like chapel at IWU, except with flow and continuity. Four services every Sunday, all filled with people 23-30, probably why I like them so much. The two teaching pastors are amazing and connect with the people in profound ways. Their goal at the end of the service is to move you to action, whatever action that might be. They even put in on the back of the attendance card they give you. "This week I commit to..." There's normally a list of four or five, the first one always being the memory verse for the week. They finished up a series called, T.G.I. Monday with a talk about what it means to be successful. They contrasted the world's ideas of success with God's idea of success, with a big emphasis on serving others. About half way through I was caught by something that I heard in my head. Yes, I'm hearing voices again. No, I don't need medicated. But the quite voice in the back of my mind went, "that's why you liked Wednesdays so much." There were parts of Wednesdays that I could have done without, or would rather have done without. But all in all I love Wednesdays around here, because that was the day we had kids choir. I can't begin to explain, how much I loved working with the kids, teaching them, answering questions (no matter how annoying), kneeling down to help and crack a joke just so they'd smile. I've come to a conclusion. It doesn't matter what you do, as long as you serve God.

Sitting alone on the train I couldn't do anything but thank God for the time I've spent here. I've a few more days, and a lot of things to do in those days, but my time here is quickly coming to a close. I couldn't do anything but thank him, for giving me a perspective that allowed me to learn even as I served. Sitting alone on the train I made my promises one more time. Lots of things can happen when you're alone on the train.

I'll drive these roads in thunder and in rain
and I will sing your song at the top of my lungs
and I will praise you Lord in glory and in pain
and I will follow you till this race is run
and I will drive these roads till the motor won't run
and I will sing your song from sea to shining sea
and I will praise you Lord till your kingdom comes
and I will follow where you lead
Till there's no more faith
no more hope
I see your face and Lord I'll know
there's no more faith
there's no more hope
we'll sing your praise and let them grow
where there's only Love.