January 2009


i was reading a friend’s blog last night and he was ranting about not wanting to just exist or settle in life. he mentioned that we ‘have potential’ and that he wants to do things that matter, have an impact and change the world. at first everything within me agreed with him. i have confessed those same desires…recently.

but then i started thinking, “why are we so afraid of being ordinary?” because i am.

reflexively, why are we (us and our generation) so obsessed with achieving greatness? i mean, we couch it in the language of global good but what we tend to mean is that we want our lives on earth to be extraordinary, memorable and great.

if there were no hope of life beyond this life then i would understand the Achilles-like fever of working to ensure the survival of our ‘name’ in future generations. but as Christians- people who have been bought at a great price and given hope in Jesus- why do we participate in this dream of personal greatness?

not to mention, is not the greatest thing possible for a human the opportunity to have access to God Almighty? to KNOW God? and if this greatest thing possible has already been both achieved and offered to us- aren’t we off the hook in a sense from the compulsion to find greatness on our own? have we not but to join in it?

my whole life i’ve been told i was ‘special,’ and would do ‘great things.’ (i’m sure your experience has been similar) that affirmation has come hand-in-hand with the burden to figure out just “HOW” to do that. a question you know full well i have been unable to answer. this have left me feeling like i have wasted my life thus far and has grown into a fear that i might continue to waste it. 

but i’m beginning to think the only thing i’ve wasted is my energy worrying about my own stupid contributions of “greatness.” 

i heard Tim Keller preach tonight from the parable of the prodigal son. fascinated me when he pointed out that in the context of luke 15 someone goes in search of the lost coin and the lost sheep but that no one goes in search of the lost son. and that if the elder brother had been a true brother he would have gone in search of him and brought him back to the family even if it was at great personal cost. Keller then said that Jesus was using this story to set himself up as The True elder brother who did indeed seek us out at the ultimate personal cost in order that we might return as his brothers…He IS the greatness.

in response and participation in Him- should we not spend ourselves continuing to seek after both the ones who think themselves “good” (the elder brothers) and the ones who think themselves “bad” (the younger brothers) at whatever personal risk and seek to bring them back to the Father as well?

and can that- our call, our command, our whatever you want to call it- can that not be done in an ordinary life? over cups of coffee and long conversations? through meekness and open-mindedness? through brief encounters and business dealings? can this not actually be done more efficiently in the “hideous ordinary?”

is the very thing we’ve been trying to avoid be the very thing we are meant to do?

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please let us remember Dr. T’s words, “You don’t get to be bitter- you get to try harder.”

can we also remember the fortune i pulled out of my cookie at Pei Wei, “Endurance and persistence will be rewarded- Lucky Numbers 42,31,12,41,13,17.” especially poignant after our “Pay your dues, earn the right and work now so you’ll have things to give when you’re middle-aged” conversation.

here is the poem i wrote for you while anticipating your visit:

when last we were friends/i saw my face in yours/my heart in your words and/your spirit in mine

who is to blame for the cracked mirror/the distorted image between/two like us never imagined/and unprepared

is Time the foe to whom vengeance we owe/or maybe Distance should bear the fault

i would gladly do violence to either of these/if for one second i thought/that my will alone could victory win/and return you stillsame to me again

this morning i opened one eye/then another/and discovered to my delight/this fear was a phantom/concealed in a dream/awakening makes it all right

for at last we are friends/i see my face in yours/my heart in your words and/your spirit in mine