When your will takes over your logic

It’s been ages. Last post was in February! But I was finishing my degree and for a little while I just lost the drive to meditate and think about blog posts, even though I have loads of drafts and ideas written on my phone. I completed my undergraduate degree in Sociology in May, and my graduation will be some time in September/October, so I have lots of time to think, read, write and catch up on various things that had to be put on hold. Today is also the last day of a  fast that I’ve been doing since Monday, so I can get some clarifications about my career and life goals. I’ll try to keep you all updated.

This week, I’ve been thinking about the will, and how closely it’s linked to pride. On Sunday, I went to my surrogate mother’s house for morning prayers, and we reflected on how God will go to any length—no matter how ridiculous to us—to save us from ourselves. He has a will for our lives, and we stray from it, and end up having to tread down dark, dangerous and miserable paths—which he allows—in order to finally see him and what he had tried to tell us from the beginning. We look over our shoulders at the adjacent road we could have gone down: bright, warm, and easy, and chide ourselves for being so foolish. This is why I’ve decided to wait patiently and pray about where I should go next in my life, because the initial experiences of sixth-form and university were riddled with doubt, loneliness and concern, that I’d made the wrong course choices; gone to the wrong institutions; started in the wrong year. For once, I want to walk down a path with confidence that it was the right decision.

As we spoke, some extra thoughts came to mind. There are a few ways to deal with wrong choices: some go into crippling self-pity and chastisement, resenting and hating themselves to the point of depression; others get annoyed because they saw where they went wrong, but pray for wisdom for the next time. Although some times, when their decisions lead to failure, some people project their frustrations on others. “It wasn’t me; the reason I did this was because; if only so-and-such had acted differently”. We’re all guilty of this at some point: deciding not to own up and admit to what we did wrong because it’s easier to blame someone else.

God’s will doesn’t just refer to our careers, but every choice we make. I thought about the blame game we tend to play with ourselves and each other, and for the first time, I could actually envision the wicked, who didn’t make it into the New Jerusalem in Revelation 20, charging towards the city to fight God. This passage always befuddled me because I thought “who could possibly do that, wouldn’t they just be really sad that they didn’t make it?” But if so often, when our bad choices and wrong doings are put in front of us in the calmest of ways, our first reaction is to lash out, give the silent treatment, and make excuses, then what hope would there be for someone being faced with all the wrong decisions they had made that led them to be standing on the outside of the Ultimate Gift? They’d no longer be able to see all the measures God had taken to save them, they’d just see everything that everyone else did, that caused them to miss out on heaven.

The will is a scary and great thing. If we let our pride and ego get in the way, we’ll only make decisions for ourselves; we’ll live solely for our own interests; which will inevitably not only hurt us, but someone else. Furthermore, when these decisions cause problems, and we’re confronted with this, we’ll never admit to it, deciding once again to put the blame on others. I had this experience this week and it’s honestly the most frustrating thing: when you tell someone they’ve hurt you and done something wrong, but they’ve decided to be upset with you for reasons they can’t properly vocalise. But after reading and studying this week, I think I know what the problem is.

If we stopped engaging in this battle of wills, of self interest, and instead surrendered our wills to God, we’d all be walking down that sweet, easy road happily. But until then, we struggle through the brambles.

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“Show them Love… And they won’t Forget You”.

The above is a quote that concluded a testimony in such a succinct and stark way that it stayed with me for a long time after the telling. It made me think about the small things we do as Christians, the little acts of kindness that allow people to see Jesus in us.

It was my boyfriend who told me the story; of his friend who was in prison and had been left alone. I currently have a family member in prison and it’s only now that I realise just how lonely the experience is. Those who receive regular family visits are the lucky ones: for a lot of inmates, the only visitor to pass by their door is the police guard; the only time they talk to people is when they’re in their cells, whether it be an argument or an impassioned wail: if there’s no one outside kind enough to wire money to their prison account, they’re poor. The only way to make money is to do jobs inside the prison (with salaries starting from around £1). These are needed to purchase the most under-appreciated necessities: toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap….

Then there’s the lack of ‘outside’ time; in the ‘harsher’ prisons, the weather is a myth. You’re unaware of the rain; you’ll be released having missed blizzards, tropical storms, monsoons and biting chills; heatwaves…. the draft from the window and the tiny swirls of dilapidation left by dust motes in the sun are the only traces of natural life you get. Imagine being in a place like this, against your own will, and no one you knew on the ‘outside’ could be bothered to give you a call?

It’s a well known adage that one only knows their true friends when they’re going through a struggle. I suppose that, whilst the prisoner stares at the cell walls, their eyes tracing the assaulted escape attempts of prisoners past, they’re able to reflect in their loneliness and desperation; of all those friends they had way back when who were always there for a laugh, but the moment a member of their arsenal was gone, they quickly found a replacement at the artillery store.

Like my family member, my boyfriend had an acquaintance who had been in a similar situation. In prison and alone. His ‘boys’ were no longer there. The person who sent him money and letters was simply an ‘acquaintance’: my boyfriend. When this man was released, he simply said:

“You were the only one who was there for me. Even though I don’t believe in your God, if you ever tell me something I’ll listen to you before anyone else”.

The only reason why this guy was able to say such a thing was because he saw something different; a trait of Christ. It’s a powerful testament for any Christian, anyone who loves God, to look into their everyday actions and see if the people around them would be able to identify the Christ in them. We can’t all be in a position to rescue a baby from a burning building, or be stoned in the Middle East for our faith, or make it into the public domain and publish books about our life in Christ, but we can help a struggling person with their shopping; spot a lonely person at the bus stop on a chilling winter’s day and offer them a lift home; say “good morning”, volunteer, become a mentor to younger people we know; simply tell people we know to be struggling with life that we’re there to hear their vent. And smile. A genuine smile given to a person who never receives them is like ambrosia: something heavenly. The best stuff. It’ll keep them going.

When people see the genuine care you have for humanity, they’re more likely to inquire about the One who placed that care in your heart.

xXx

A Text for Sabbath.

 

Don’t, by the way, read too much into the differences here between men and women. Neither man nor woman can go it alone or claim priority. Man was created first, as a beautiful shining reflection of God—that is true. But the head on a woman’s body clearly outshines in beauty the head of her “head,” her husband. The first woman came from man, true—but ever since then, every man comes from a woman! And since virtually everything comes from God anyway, let’s quit going through these “who’s first” routines.

1 Corinthians 11:10-12, The Message.

 

A text I really need after how I felt yesterday. I know that I create a lot of the gender politics in my head and I’m always on the defensive. Sometimes, though, you don’t know who to trust. It seems as though to be a Godly woman is to be a woman of the 1950s. It makes me irrational, I guess. I told my brother that I wasn’t going to get married because I don’t think I’d like it. He said ‘you can’t tar everyone with the same brush’. So I guess I’m also guilty of generalising men sometimes. They’re obviously not all bad.

At the end of the day, though, these things aren’t important. My salvation means more to me. For now, I’ll concentrate on my marriage with Jesus—because I honestly can’t be asked for all this gender hype.

I’m tired.

Street Witnessing

Today I went street witnessing. There is series of flats on Wood Vale, Forest Hill, which makes a good start for doing that sort of thing. It’s close by to me, so it didn’t take long to go. I went with a group of people from my church: three of us youths, two adults (including my dad) and two little ‘uns.

I used to go door-knocking often with my dad back in the day. I hated it. I never knew what to say, and used to just stand there while he did all the work. I know the ice breakers that he’d use when greeting people off by heart: if he had a tract about the Health Message then he’d introduce himself as a quasi-nutritionist; if it was a book about happiness and well-being then he’d ask about their stress levels and overall mental health. At Christmas he’d start off by asking if they’d had a good Christmas, and if they believed in Christ.

We used the latter one today and I interacted with people for the first time. I mean, I actually spoke to strangers and smiled and everything. It wasn’t scary and I didn’t feel stupid; people were fairly receptive to the Word and even if they didn’t believe, they were still polite and accepted our materials. In this case we gave them Steps to Christ by E. G. White. The whole ‘Christmas’ ice-breaker worked wonders.

We’re planning to make a habit of this; try and go every month—or more, depending on our schedules.I’m actually looking forward to it. This certainly was a milestone in my ‘witnessing’ walk, if anything. So I suppose one of the positives a Christian can take from this more-or-less Pagan holiday, is the opportunity to witness for God. People are more friendly during this time.

‘Tis the season, and all that…

xXx

The Facebook Preacher.

Happy Sabbath.

I was talking to my friend yesterday about Facebook Christians. He’s a guy, so he knows how guys think. I wanted to know his opinion about someone from my local church who’s shown interest in me. It’s really useful having a close male friend…

He told me to be careful, gave his reasons, and thankfully confirmed my own apprehension.

‘Are you on Facebook?’ has become a casual greeting nowadays. You meet someone for the first time, ask the question, and hopefully get to know them more through Facebook chatting–or you probably never talk to them again, only reading snapshots of their lives when their status occasionally crops up on your newsfeed. That’s what Facebook is all about: giving people snapshots of your life. Look through the albums, see the pictures of what looks like an amazing scene at an amazing dinner party. How do you know the dinner party was amazing? There might have been stilted, dry conversation, awkward silences–perhaps an argument–but everyone’s managed to pull a smile together and give the spectators of said photograph the impression that the whole night was a success.

It’s actually quite an interesting sociological phenomenon. Anthony Giddens explores the concept of our Biographies in several essays. It’s all in relation to the concept of The Self in modern society. We try to maintain satisfactory biographies to gain respect and recognition from others; we feel shame when an exaggerated aspect of our biographies is exposed. In essence, Facebook helps us to maintain the appearance of an amazing, interesting life; a satisfactory biography.

How does this relate to Christianity?

Have you ever thought that someone must be crazily, unbelievably holy because of what they say on Facebook? There are a lot of Facebook preachers out there, writing Bible passages, quotes from Ellen White and warnings of the End Times as their statuses; they never forget to wish everyone a Happy Sabbath at the strike of sunset; when they post music, it’s strictly Gospel–and none of that jumpy Tye Tribbet, please. Old Skool hymns only. Don’t misunderstand me. There is nothing wrong with doing this. Many a time I’ve been uplifted by a poem or passage that someone has posted, but the question is, what does this person do when they’re not on Facebook publicly declaring their piety? Does their life reflect their Facebook status? The Facebook status only gives us a snapshot of the emotions and feelings of that person at any given time. In real life, would people ever know that they’re a Christian?

There are a lot of people on my Facebook that I don’t know personally. If I was to take them at face value, based on their Facebook Persona, I’d help them pack their bags for their First Class journey to Heaven. The thing is, we don’t know what happens behind closed doors.

So be beware of putting your entire trust in someone because they’re always spiritual on Facebook. Only God knows the heart.