Stop Checking the Fridge

I slipped fast and hard. I wouldn’t catch myself this time. With the darkness licking the air around me, I fell into the mud. The only light lay a kilometer in the distance. I was so tired. My jeans were slick with dingy brown soil. Night had fallen sooner then I had hoped.

Every muscle inside ached, delirious, my abdomen throbbing, nauseous. I knew I was really sick. The last few hours consisted of dragging my body through this journey. When the rain falls, the dirty paths are as slick as ice. I wouldn’t find out for a few more days that I probably have typhoid.

God, this was beautiful.

All I Ask Meredith Andrews

I didn’t feel that way earlier.

The ramshackle collection of wood and tin was not unlike the Swiss Family Robinson. Huddled together inside, a gaggle of Cambodians stood singing.

Off key and out of tune, they cared not. If trees could clap and mountains sing, they would have nothing on moments like this. Brown skinned beautiful people humbly worshipping God.

Half the world away from home, I had seen temples that make Indiana Jones salivate like the dog he is named after. I had climbed volcanoes and looked down upon a creation that defies every explanation. I had held orphans of every size, variety, and age. I had seen the battlefields of Vietnam. The war-torn soil of Cambodia. Monkeys, elephants, villages, snakes.

Adventure was merely the oxygen around me.

And here I was watching these wonderful people worship Jesus.

Bored.

In the most amazing and epic circumstances, dullness had risen inside of me.

“There is nothing new under the sun.”

God, some days I long for something new.

I stood among the epic worship scene.

Beautiful people doing beautiful things.

I knew that this moment was magical.  And yet I felt nothing.

The Cambodians hit hands together, grinned, and danced. Maybe simplicity has left them unspoiled from the slick oily dreams of American life.

Here I was though, tired, exhausted. Sick, broke, eating Ritz crackers for meals and nursing my own entitlement.

I had lost the wonder.

Jesus, as He always does, whispered into my heart.

“Never let this get old.”

Had I really let life get this old?

We are a generation overloaded with information. There is no great battle to fight for our kings. There is no new land to explore. No dragon to slay.

Where the majority of men grew up in history with a sword on one hip, I grew up with a controller. Pixelated displays have beamed information into my mind since childhood. Facts, data, pictures. The most majestic and powerful creatures on earth have been denoted to discovery channel documentaries and zoo visits. Where as once nature encroached upon us, and we rode out to conquer it, nowadays we merely pay it homage and feed peanuts to the goliaths.

Here I am, 26. It is hard not to believe I know everything. That I have seen everything.

As I get older the wonder has began to fade faster than ever. It seems as if the preservatives of innocence and youth are nullified quicker then they are produced.

The Internet and age of information has gifted me.

I bear Solomon’s burden, without his wisdom.

“Jake, never let this get old.”

My mind flashed back hazy sepia memories. A couple months ago, I stood amidst the sandy dunes of a Florida beach, the stars beaming. I remember my friend Noah saying something astounding,

“It’s impossible to believe we are big, when the universe declares how small we are. Maybe that’s why we build cities. To block the stars.”

At some point I became hardly aware, running on autopilot, stuck in my head, nullifying life with digital information and unmet expectations.

Fighting to be aware is the hardest battle I have ever faced. Everyday feels as if I drift beneath waves trying to break free, as I claw and push desperately to the surface, I take one breath of air.

It’s freeing, beautiful, serene, I see the world as it is.

And then I fall back beneath the waves.

Seeing but never seeing. Hearing but never hearing.

If we refuse to see the world around us as bigger, intimidating, awesome, wonderful, the natural conclusion is always the same.

At some point we disengage.

Food is no longer an experience; it is a combination of chemicals. The synaptic nerves gathering impulses of data that convince us of joy and sweet and yum. Our mind jumps further than the illusion of reaction will take us. We stop believing there to be any value in those experiences. We stop eating for joy. We eat merely to stave off biological cravings.

Games, art, music, sex, drugs, cream of wheat, Oprah. Take anything and add in a dash of sterilized disinterest and it will merely leave us numb and hollow.

Have you ever been there? The desert of the soul, where food has lost its flavor, music is merely noise, and satisfaction a taunting long distant memory. Stay too long and life will be forever unsatisfying. Drifting from one high to the next.

Desert Soul – Rend Collective Experiment

The next day we rode through pouring rain to a distant village. We would interview people on how God has helped them, but it would be a long journey.

As the chintzy metal cart pulled up to the muddy dirt road, it slowly sank in.

We had to move on foot. I didn’t feel very healthy. I didn’t want to journey anymore.

As I walked, frustration bubbled softly underneath my skin. It’s filthy. I’m sick. I don’t want to keep on slipping.

Shouldn’t my environment change me? Shouldn’t everything I am seeing make my heart come alive? Can I really see so much and only find myself sighing, “vanity of vanities!”

“Only I will make your heart come alive Jacob.”

“Ok God, then teach me! Teach me, I am desperate to feel alive again.”

“You think you know it all Jacob, you think that Youtube and discovery channel have shown the wonder of my creation. Stop existing and start being present. Stop dreaming of life and live it. Stop waiting for an incredible journey. You are on one.”

He was right. I mean God usually is, He has that whole infinite being of unimaginable power thing going on.

It was there in the small muddy village, I felt a supernatural joy rise up. The crisp air. The wandering chickens. I deadened my pace. Took a deep breathe.

I had to stop expecting the world to thrill me. It was already thrilling. I had to just slow down and experience it.

Villagers ushered cows and oxen. The sky was immense and stretched out further than I could fathom. A hazy cloud layer lit the world with blue and gray. Rice paddies and junk hobbled together for houses. We rode boats from one shore to the next.

Just closing my eyes and absorbing the hot Cambodian heat. Soaking up the sensual delights of Earth. The explosive flavors and smells and laughs. Getting lost in the experience of now. It was all so wonderful.

I thought of the pain in my muscles. The malaise. Even sickness was thrilling, a mixture of bad feelings that subside leaving an appreciation for days I am healthy. I take so much for granted.

I began to look around. People walking for hours to get home. Buddhist shrines. Hollow eyes. Few of them had electricity, let alone clean water and finished walls. They need Jesus so bad. How could I ever feel cranky and tired when I have the very words of life? Oh Jesus, save these people.

It was true. Only Jesus would make my heart come alive. Everything pointed back to Him. The universe stood before me declaring the master strokes of an artist. My mind frantically swirled around. Everything so beautiful. Everything so Him.

After that, everything was so beautiful. It didn’t matter, the mud or the darkness. It was gorgeous.

….

The next few days I stood during worship. Enamored and in awe. People worshipping the same God in a different language. Life is beautiful. It is filled with glorious expressions and feelings.

Maybe you bought into the lie that adventure will make you come alive. Maybe you bought into the lie that living in America is the reason you are unhappy. Maybe you are waiting for more movies, video games, facebook news. Life has become one perpetual checking of the fridge. Going back and forth, looking for something new.

Stp checking the fridge. Grab something and enjoy it. Life is woonderful!

Look and live.

Newness is all around us. It’s in our friends and family. The people we love. The little things are robbed of value so often. Taste the food you eat today, listen to the music you hear, kiss the people you love. Be thrilled by the ordinary. Because even the most mundane aspects of life are quite extraordinary when you think over them.

Life is new everyday.

Never let it get old.

 Until You Came Along – JJ Heller

 

 

 

Advertisements

Forgotten God

Jesus,

Who are you?

Parachute BandConsecrate

Honestly. I sometimes can’t wrap my mind around the old dusty roads of Israel. It all seems so foreign. I am thousands of years removed, reading words about your life. Words that haunt me in the best way I have ever known. Life, death, heaven, hell. Sometimes the things you do crack me up. Like that one time you preceded World of Warcraft by millennia and had Peter slay a fish and loot it for coins.

Sometimes I can’t sleep. I think about stupid things like what I will wear tomorrow to present my identity to the world. Will I drink coffee? Will I catch a girl’s eyes, secure a grin, and live a brief moment of fleeting love on this floating sphere? I really mostly fall asleep thinking about the day I’ll have answers and reconciliation with that one bright spot in my life.

I’d like to think I would remember you.

I long to just remember you.

Oh, Jesus.

These days I’m starting to like you more than people. You’re hilarious. Life seems more like a divine comedy then a tragedy. The little messages you send me in a sunrise. The playful way you make life tantalizing and terrifying. The way you tell me if I pray it will be answered, so I command my cat in your name to come to me. So he runs away as fast as possible. I’m left thinking that you are just really playful. Then I start to look at the things around me. At first they seem strange, just metal and wood, animals and glass. Then the closer I get the more I understand the genius of all this.

Jesus you created materials, atoms, laws of physics, circulatory systems. My synapses fire off and explode and think of how incredible this world is around us. The intense beauty in the art. You can tell who an artist is by what they paint. If I hear Mozart or Justin Beiber, I know it, because the flavor of the art is so unique.

What does the mighty rushing wind say about you? What does the Kodiak Bear hunting for wild salmon say about Jesus? What do the rocky crags of the grand Canyon proclaim about you, friend? Your art is so beautiful.

I guess I never realized until this year how human you are. I mean if you were the most perfect man who ever lived. You would be the most human right?

What if you don’t like mustard? Is that even possible. Could you have created something you didn’t like just because others would? I mean NOBODY eats certain things so it is not a matter of finding joy in your food. Nor is it a matter of contentedness. Humans have desires and preferences. What if you strongly dislike the flavor of cow’s milk. What if you loved pizza? The very thought that your personality is so unique it could have preferences at all is so shocking to me. I have put you in such a box of infinity. Oh, Jesus, there is so much about you I don’t know.

That blows my mind.

I say that often.

Like when the ferret steals my things and hides them under the couch. Blows my mind. Doritos Locos. Blows my mind. Getting up before noon and not cursing the sun and spitting in the face of whatever ripped me out of blissful sleep land. Blows my mind.

Greg Laswell Sweet Dreams

It’s an overused phrase.

As you know, but this really does. It overloads my brain. Maybe it’s the daunting combination of perfection and humanity. Could a human really ever be perfect? Could God really die?

I long to see your face. I wonder sometimes how I’ll feel when I see you.

Like the first time I read Harry Potter and then saw Daniel Radcliffe.

I had formulated this different image and he seemed so foreign to the paintings in my imagination.

Will I even recognize you? How could I know someone and love someone so much and yet have never even seen your beautiful face?

Will you carry the scars? Were you pierced through the palm or the wrist? Do you still have a beard? I know you save, but do you ever shave?

I long to just weep and bawl and find my place in your big carpenter arms. To know what your voice sounds like.

I want to sing with you and hear the harmony that we can make. To tell you I am so freaking sorry for all the stupid things I’ve done. I know I say it all the time but it just means so much more when you look someone in the eyes.

What color are your eyes?

You see Jesus, sometimes you are so real that I can imagine you right next to me. Hand on my shoulder, smiling as I write words late into the night. I get little goosebumps and I grin as I think about this God. This man. Who so loved me that he intimately fashioned my heart. I think about all the times you stood with me through pain and hurt. I think of all the times I thought I was alone only to find out I had a defender and advocate. I think of all the times we walked through the flames of life and came out unscathed.

Sometimes I feel like I have Alzheimer’s. Like that silly girl from the notebook. I forget you. I forget our story. Then you come to me and slowly and faithfully read it to me all over again. And again. And again.

I go to bed thinking of you. Grinning over knowing the very God of the universe. A God that wants to know me. Then I wake up and I hardly remember you. I walk through my day as if I am in a dream, hazily existing, until at some point I am jolted awake.

Lucid. Salient. Clear. And for a brief moment I with you. The world melts away and Jesus, oh Jesus. I know you are real, and powerful, and near, and lovely. I am filled with wonder and hope. You are realer than the room around me and the air in my lungs. Then I slowly fade back away into waking life. I cannot help but feel like a growing man who surfaces occasionally for that much needed breath only to fall back down beneath the waves.

When I am away from you I hardly miss you. Yet when I am with you I miss you more than I can hardly express. I just say I miss you, I miss you, I miss you. Oh that I would feel an aching in my soul more and more.

It kills me. If only I could remember you for more than brief intermissions in my day. Oh what a wonderful life that would be! If I could wholly and fully spend hours with you.

I keep thinking this thought. If I woke up tomorrow and I could not find you Jesus. If my prayers felt blocked and stifled… your word was missing… the small reminders of who you are were gone. Would I miss you?

Would I even miss you?

I am so haunted by that story of the disciples on the way to Emmaus. How they talked and walked with you until you fluttered away as you so often did. It’s hilarious how often you left the disciples stunned and shocked. It’s not like omnipresence makes you a hard to find person. Yet the disciples knew you had left and when they thought about it they said… we knew it was Jesus because our very hearts BURNED within us as we walked and talked.

I want that. Oh God I want that. I want to have my heart feel on fire in your very presence. To weep over the pain and hurt in the world and others instead of turing a blind and apathetic eye.

I’m so sick of looking at homeless people and wondering why we feed them. Of hearing holocaust jokes and celebrating the death of Osama Bin Ladin. I am so sick of letting the hurt and pain in this world be something that I can laugh about. Why can I laugh at suffering? Why can I forget that pain is real so quickly until it finally touches me. Oh Jesus, come into these moments friend. Make my heart tender. Make it weep and mourn for that bright spot in my life. For the people who have hurt me. For the people who robbed me in my youth.

Oh Jesus. I want to know what your favorite television show is. If our human art and music is pleasant to you. What would you pin on pinterest? What would you write if blogged? I want to know you so badly and yet so often I find myself fading away from you. I hit the bed at the end of the day and as my thoughts swirl around I recall you.

Do you long for me? Do you like me? I know you do Jesus, but I need to hear it more and more. I want to be hugged by that crazy rugged grip I know you have. I want to sit at your feet and listen. To share a moment together walking along a road. To take it back to that garden. That forbidden moment when we all stuck our finger up at you and said we love ourselves more then you. Oh Jesus, I am sorry for us. For all of us. For our wars, our pride, our anger, our selfishness. I am sorry for the innocence that we rip away from our children. The children we abort. The races we love more than others. The hate we spread. The lies we live. The cain we raise. I am sorry for us.

Yet you’re not.

You’re not sorry for us. You’re not sorry that you made us. You’re not regretful that we exist. You adore us, love us, cherish us. I am almost indignantly confused over that matter.

How… how could you not be sorry for us? Your wayward children?

Oh Jesus. I love you.

You were here all along. You are so patient Jesus. So wonderful.

I’m beginning to like you more than people these days Jesus. I love you.

LifehouseEverything

The Everything Skit