Recalling a Sermon on Contentment

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.

One creative expression a day

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.

This Lustful Life

“Life? ‘Course I’ll live it.
Let me have breath, Just to my death,
And I’ll live it.” Maya Angelou

                                                        *           *            *

You tear at the corners, rip it open, just to see what color the stuffing is. White, but every kind. Ghost white, snow, ivory, old lace, vanilla.

This lustful life –

Your cheeks are packed full of orange and yellow sweet potatoes. You’re gunna choke, but manage to wash all the mess down with bitter wine – so sour and slick with tang.

Manic Mondays and Tuesdays, that bleed blood red and purple into the rest of the week. There’s so much color and texture, that your eyelids are sore to the touch the next morning.

You rub them at your alarm. Your head aches, from your temples, down your spine. Time unfolds like helix coils, unzipped. Tap your tongue to the top of your mouth, then glide past every segregated tooth.

Coals from last night’s bonfire glow in the mid-morning light. With a rubber hose, you wash them black and run through the sizzling steam. You want every part of your jacket to smell like that.

There is a wall of muffled sound: Trains screeching as they slide to a stop, cars humming on the freeway, doors opening and shutting, honking, talking, rustling, music playing.

You write poetry.

Speak a native language.

Play an instrument.

Use public transportation.

Transport yourself.

Listen to music.

Converse.

Talk friends out of suicide.

Paint.

Draw.

Rap.

Snowboard.

Skate.

Swim.

Hike.

Take pictures.

Read.

Watch the sun set.

Eat home cooked meals.

Sleep.

Wrestle with Faith.

Believe in God.

All while you live, this lustful life.

Video to come

My view this morning. Standing on top of Longworth Hall, with Cincinnati’s skyline behind me. I preformed a spoken word piece in the freezing cold (my hands were shaking) and with the help of my friend Christine, I hope it will become an awesome poetry video. Be on the lookout!

water_tower

Promise

A friend of mine was praying. While he prayed, the word “marriage” came to him again and again. “But I am already married, Lord,” my friend said aloud. “What does this mean?” He continued to pray and then he heard a name come from God. He thought he must tell this person, but before he did, he prayed for two weeks to make sure he had heard correctly.

My friend came up to me in church. I had not seen him in a while.

“I’ve got something to tell you,” he said. “Something I heard from God.”

I was intrigued and admittedly a little nervous. I thought perhaps God wanted something big from me; to move to another country or become a missionary.

“God told me that you will be married,” my friend said to me.

I smiled and blinked as I stared blanky.

I have thought so many things since that moment. I’ve asked my friend if he heard the word “soon” or if another name was given. My friend smiled and said “no” to these things. This friend of mine is solid. He is a man of his word and has heard things from God before. This leads me to believe that he is not lying and that he did in fact hear something.

I am a worrier. I worry that I will die alone (it is my greatest fear). I worry that I am not stable enough for a marriage. I worry that I won’t be able to provide financial support. I worry about so many things: my lack of physical fitness, unstable mental health, struggles to start a career,  but I think I worry the most about never finding love.

So in the midst of all that worry and doubt came a promise from God:

You will be married.

I struggle with deep depression. Perhaps this is God’s way of saying “hold on.” I think he knows my greatest fear and speaks against it. “I got you, even in that dark place.”

I am glad for that knowledge. I am glad for the peace that comes from it. I am going to try and believe the promise God made to me and all the other promises he has made to all of us. I am going to try and leave worry behind and pick up hope instead. It is much lighter, I’m sure.