I haven’t listened to many sermons in the last few years, but I did tonight. It was a simple message, but it helped me see some blind spots.
The preacher shared a quote from Voltaire. It basically said ‘God created man in his image and man has attempted to return the favor.’ What this means, is that we try to create a version of God in our mind that fits our life. If we value financial stability and providing for our family above everything, we twist God into this being that understands when we hoard our money and don’t give with open hands to the poor. If we value romantic relationships above everything, we twist God into this being that understands and welcomes our sexual sin.
The preacher said we should twist ourselves to align with God instead.
“There are things about Jesus that I don’t like,” the preacher said. “There are commands that Jesus makes that are hard for me. But we cannot twist Jesus into something we like. We must twist ourselves instead. Die to ourselves and learn to cling to Jesus more.”
He went on to say that Jesus was radical. Jesus didn’t know where he would eat the next day. Jesus didn’t know where he would sleep the next night. But he still relied on God. Because Jesus was radical, we should live radical lives too; giving our security away so our brothers and sisters can eat, abstaining from sexual immorality when the world promotes lust.
The preacher said the reason we are not content is because we don’t really believe that Jesus is enough to sustain us.
These are things I have been hearing in church circles for a long time, but they struck me tonight. Dying to myself is hard. Believing ‘Jesus is enough’ all the time is hard. But twisting God into my own image does not work.
Maybe it is because we know
even the atheist cries out, “Why God!”
on his most broken day.
Is it that I need more relational connection than my peers …
or is it that I get less connection and feel starved of it?
One creative expression a day. That’s what I’m hoping for. Some folks put deadlines and disciplines between them and creating. If that’s what helps you, do you. I haven’t put deadlines on myself to create ever, but I’m not saying it won’t happen in the future. I’m pretty good at being consistent and I like to alleviate stress there.
I’ve been painting and drawing and writing songs and performing and recording music and writing poems and submitting articles. It’s been a good, hearty season for expression. I’m teetering on the edge; do I plummet, submerge myself and go ‘all in’ or do I find other work and keep creating as a hobby?
I’m gunna go all in.
There’s a song called ‘Hazelnut Butter’ by Medium Troy. One line says, “I want everyone to call their mom right now and let her know that she’s the shit.” The first time I heard the song, I called my mom directly after. “So, you think I’m the shit?” she said laughing. My mom passed away last year. All I’m saying, is every chance you get to tell someone that you love them, do it. I’m glad I did that day.
It is not until I’m seated in a reclined position that I realize how heavy the mental burdens of the day have been. Then I can see how unwieldy they really are.
I’m wondering out loud a lot to my fifth grade definition of God. “Why all this pain? Why all this broken and bent and tragic? What are we doing? What are You doing? Do you love us, still? Did you ever at all?
Basically, it boils down to : this life is really hard. A real slog at times.
God doesn’t like to be asked direct questions, it seems. He likes to whisper in the wind and speak in a mourning dove’s song. I’mma be honest, I get pretty tired of discerning meaning from the breeze on a blade of grass (that’s a joke).
How about some megaphone responses? Maybe he does that too in the face of tragedy, but I’m talking some straightforward, not cryptic, unmistakable commentary. I mean all of this light-heartedly (for now), but it would be nice to see some road signs marked, “Tyler, go here.”
I’m in a life-lull for the moment and a big, clear push is welcome.
“One bright morning, when this life is over, I’ll fly away.”
I want you to notice how soft that line is; how light and divine. It’s like the sentence is angled into a crescendo somehow; like the end of the sentence is taking flight above the clouds.
Sing it over and over in your head. Get lost in the idea of flying away. Pick up and leave every heavy thing behind. I don’t have to name the heavy things. We all know what they are. We recite them again and again until the area between our brow wrinkles.
But letting go of every heavy thing sounds nice, doesn’t it? All those recitations suddenly forgotten completely. And instead, that line above replaces them. The morning is bright, the race is run, I’ll let go of everything and just fly.
No need to overcomplicate things; just flight and a new perspective from on high.