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2/26/15

LIFE IN A BUBBLE

I LIVE IN A BUBBLE.  I don't think about it.  I don't realize it.  It never crosses my mind.  In fact, I don't even think it's true.  But, it is.  I have a family that is from time-to-time relatively functional.  I have a great wife.  I have a great job.  I have a house in the suburbs with more room than we need.  I have two cars that sit on the driveway because I have too much stuff in my garage to fit them in.  I eat out sometimes, go to movies, buy clothes (well, my wife does) and take vacations.  It's just a normal life...at least, that's what I assume.

Then, it happens.  Someone, pin in hand, comes along and "POP", the bubble is exposed.  That was the case last night.  It all seemed to innocent.  My Community Group Leader said, "Let's go to Street Church together!".  So, we agreed to go last night.  The night came, and of course, it was inconvenient.  Susan had work to do that made us late.  And I'm supposed to be on sabbatical, whatever that means. We had to go through the Chik-fil-A drive through, and it was the slowest ever.  Then, of course, the question rises, "Why exactly did we pick the coldest night of the year?"

I dressed as warmly as possible, arrived and took my assignment as the clothing hander-outer.  My clothing handing-out duties would come at the end of the evening, so, for now, all I could do was stand back and observe.  And I did.  And as I did, I felt my bubble being exposed more and more and more...until, ultimately, it popped.  

I became less and less concerned about how my new NorthFace jacket was going to function, and more concerned about the ones I saw in shorts and flip-flops.  Then, the realization that my worries about staying warm for a few hours paled in significance as I realized these people weren't in this for a few hours only to return home.  These streets were their home.  

I've heard it before, and even said it myself...so many of these people are here because they choose to be.  But, then there were the children.  I'm pretty sure they didn't choose to be there. They had no voice in this.  Raising children in the bubble is hard enough.  How in the world do you raise children on the streets?

I'm back in my bubble now.  Warm and safe and wondering what's for breakfast.  But, the bubble has taken a direct hit.  It's been exposed.  I know it's there.  There's no denying it.  There's a much bigger world than my bubble.  I may only remember it for a few hours, or at best, a few days...but, that's better than total denial.  

I LIVE IN A BUBBLE.  Lord, thank you for letting me realize it.  Please poke it and pop it and let me recognize there is more to life than my neat little bubble.  Let my neat little life get messy every now and then...if for no other reason than to teach me gratitude.

2/25/15

THE PROBLEM WITH STILLNESS

"Be still and know that I am God"...Pretty clear.  God says, you wanna know me?  You wanna know I exist?  You wanna hear my voice?  No problem...just be still.

Great.  No problem.  But, what does He mean?  What exactly does it mean to "be still"?  I used to tell my kids that all the time.  Daily.  Hourly.  Sometimes minute by minute.  They wiggled and squirmed and usually caused a disturbance.  All I wanted was for them to STOP MOVING and BE QUIET.  Simple.  Well, not so simple for them.  After all, they were kids.

So, is that what God is saying here?  Quit wiggling and be quiet and you'll know me in ways you never could if you kept wiggling.  Just sit down and be motionless.

I think that may be a start, but I'm pretty sure He's saying more than that.  I will admit that just being motionless for for than 30 seconds is quite the challenge for me.  But, here's the REAL challenge.  Being still INSIDE.  Whoa, that's really, really, really tough.  I am by nature a do-er, not a be-er.  It comes very natural for me to do.  It comes very natural for me to think.  My mind races.  It's always going 100 miles an hour.  And that's where God's challenge becomes almost too much to wrap my mind around.  BE STILL.  

I think that's a problem for our culture.  We are much better adapted as HUMAN DOINGS than we are as HUMAN BEINGS.  Give me an assignment.  Give me some rules.  Give me a list.  Give me the "5 STEPS TO...".  I'm ready for that.  Just BEING?  That's another story.  Bottom line is, most of us don't know how to BE.  We're totally stumped.  

In fact, for me, it's even worse.  When I'm not doing, I feel guilty!  Why aren't you doing anything?  Why are you just sitting there?  What are you producing?  Seriously, you have absolutely nothing to show for your day?  No productivity at all?  Seriously?  What a loser?  

Several people have asked me "How's the sabbatical coming?"  I'm stumped.  What do I answer?  "I sat really still today and didn't do anything"?  What I want to say is, "Let me show you all the things I've accomplished already...and only 2 days in!!!"  But, if I was being truly honest, my answer would be something more along the lines of, "I was still for several hours and felt guilty about it for all but about 4 minutes".  Pretty pathetic.

I'm a do-er at heart, but God says to know him I have to be what's required of me to be from time to time...a be-er.  I'm not talking about sitting cross-legged on the floor, chanting and contemplating my naval.  I think it's more about giving myself permission to STOP for a while and just hang with God.  Talk to Him.  Read his words to me.  Be a person rather than a pastor for a while.  Tell Him what I'm struggling with, what I'm afraid of, where I've failed and ask Him to do in me what I'm incapable of doing for myself.  Ask Him to speak and to give me ears to hear.  

That doesn't fit on a calendar, a To-Do List or a Day-Planner.  There is no box to check off that says, BE STILL.  DONE.  CHECK.  On to the next item.  

I don't have this down yet, but I do know one thing...I gotta get it down.