A good read - many of us need to read this...

Discussion in 'Religion and Ethics' started by -Cp, Nov 23, 2004.

  1. -Cp
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    -Cp Senior Member

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    I have reached the end of another segment of life. There are no flags waving in the wind or parties to attend; no, this is beyond the tangible and visual. Once again I have sought peace and happiness on my own terms and come up wanting. I know I am not alone in this place, but that does not remove the disappointment or shame. My heart says, Didn't you learn the first time, the second time, or the one hundredth time? How long will it take?

    Seasons in life can be exhilarating or frustrating, miserable or hopeful. They can pass quickly or seem to never end. In the past few months, my family has moved into our first house, complete with a long list of projects on the to-do list. Our joy has been difficult to contain, and our pace breathtaking. Our minds have been working overtime while driving from store to store and brainstorming so many ideas. There has been little idle time, even with an infant in our midst. A house that was perfect for someone else has been transformed into a house that is perfect for us. We had been diligent for several years as we saved money and energy for this time, slowly but surely stocking up for our first house purchase while keeping to our initial plan and terms throughout the process. We had stuck to our guns, not given in to the voices in and around us, and it was finally paying off.

    Despite our enthusiasm, I'm saddened by how quickly I have forgotten my trip to Africa only two months ago. I was immersed in a culture that brought me to my knees and ripped apart my view of the world. For over a year, God had been building a stronger foundation of social justice and other-centeredness, within my soul, with personal experience the major remaining stone to be laid. Now I had personally heard stories of glory and tragedy; I had laughed and wept with strangers. I had looked into the eyes of a man who will probably die from AIDS in the next year or two, grasping for words of hope to share with him. The idea of love had exploded in my mind, leaving behind many prejudices and falsehoods I had knowingly and unknowingly held within.

    There is nothing inherently wrong with buying a house, or transforming it to be a reflection of the family within. But along the way I have slipped into the ease of self-centeredness, building up possessions and having things my way, even after meeting people content with so little. I am left looking for the answer to, "Well, what now?" While in Africa, the mountaintop provided a spectacular view and great encouragement to the soul, but I didn't even know that I had started my descent until I was almost to the bottom. Surely I should still be filled to overflowing with the joy of the Gospel. How do I get back to the top of the mountain … and how can I stay there so that I don't have to go through this again?

    We search every nook and cranny accessible to man for wisdom. We often look in the same place twice, making sure we haven't missed anything. Sometimes the dead end is visible, provoking an easy change of plans. Other times there is no evidence until we have already invested tremendous time and energy in the pursuit. A house is important to my well-being and a symbol of my family. We can be a grace to others through hospitality, as well as provide an environment for our son to grow and learn. A visit to Africa has countless avenues of blessing and worldview formation. Words often come up short in describing the feelings and emotions, but an experience in Africa has its way of making you feel like bursting at the seams wherever you go.

    Some words from the account of Job shed light on the mountaintop/valley struggle while pursuing wisdom. "Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding." These words follow a humbling description of man's struggle to search high and low, near and far, for the meaning of life … for true wisdom. Every human is indicted, with nothing spared before the judge and jury.

    What does it look like to fear the Lord? Every minute of every day, we hear messages contrary to the truths of the Gospel, and all of those messages fall short. If we are not reminding ourselves of the glorious Gospel, we are serving other idols and giving in to the flesh. Job had been stripped of everything and still had the confidence and faith to utter these words. He had the counsel of men of great "wisdom," yet while they were searching and digging for token nuggets of advice, Job was onto an entirely different idea. But maybe we're getting somewhere … the fear of the Lord is something we don't search for. Our tendency is to look for anything that will bring us tangible evidence of faith, while a core essence of faith rests on the fact that it is still intangible and moves outside of our ideas of space and time. We see the effects of faith, the actions brought about from faith, but faith itself is beyond our comprehension.

    The fear of the Lord is a recognition that there is more to life and God's creation than any one thing. It sees the folly of the world, but does not throw up arms in indignation and pessimism. Instead, this fear drives man to value and love the world in light of the kingdom yet to come. Instead of a focus on building possessions, it values relationships and selflessness. The fear of the Lord produces the realization that man will never be God, and that this design is perfect and intentional. The fear of the Lord is a call to worship, bringing all that I have and my very being before God the Father and Creator and saying once again, "Here I am, for Your glory and kingdom work, here and in the life to come."


    Aaron Sands lives in Nashville, Tenn., with his family. He plays bass with Jars of Clay, touring extensively as well as recording in the studio. He also works with the Blood:Water Mission, an organization founded by the band in 2003 in response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic ravaging Africa.
     
  2. dmp
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    dmp Senior Member

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  3. sagegirl
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    sagegirl Member

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    This is a time when global issues, the suffering and tragic problems of citizens far removed from our daily experiences are introduced into our lives via tv or real life experiences (traveling within hours from a comfortable home to a totally different culture and set of circumstances.) The emotional impact of this exposure can be overwhelming. Our brains can somehow process this information but our hearts have a much harder time reconciling the huge disparity between the affluence and ease of our lives compared to that of someone in the so called "third world " .
    Sadly there is not a whole lot that we can do to make their lives easier....sympathy is just a cheap, feel good, sort of response. We can demand or at least solicit the people we elect to take our concerns for others seriously and to address these issues with thoughtful and meaningful actions.
    On a personal level, you have a choice to make and because you have chosen to acknowledge the problem, , the greater is your responsibility. I guess for a person of religious beliefs this is the true test of your faith....for your sake I hope you find yourself strong enough to meet your religious convictions, I sense from your comments that you feel conflicted. There is incredible strength in belief, so you must do what you know to be right and you will know it ......by how you feel.
     

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