The one sentence that stikes fear in all children after the intial anticipation of 1st grade. It signifies an end of freedom, the start of colder fall days and long cold nights, the begining of responsibility and early mornings.
This has been my feeling for a long time. For some reason, this semester my emotions seem dulled. I really don't care too much. I'm glad I'm back, but it just seems that all life is full of responsiblity now, and it just comes in different forms. If it's not work or school, it's teaching Sunday School or going to church or moving to college or whatever else. There's always something. Gone are the days of lazy weeks hanging out with friends. That was high school.
I guess too many other things are on my mind that are more important. Now it seems that it's all about making time for what's important, whether that's friends or family or God.
He has set eternity in the hearts of men... Ecclesiastes 3:11
Ever since I can remember I always wanted more stuff. I remember begging my mom for Coco Puffs in the cereal isle because I was absolutely positive that nothing else ever ever tasted better. After a few bites, though, I tried to convince myself that was still the case. Not too much later I had found a new favorite thing, and consequently many more after that. In fact, right now I have many favorite things that would fit me perfectly if I only could have one. Recently I have realized that the best things in life are the best when you don't have them. It's the hope that drives me to obtain the one last piece of a puzzle that seems only to augment with every addition. So what is any of it worth? Many of the super-wealthy have lost this drive. Throughout history, story after story tells of suicides and murders in the upper class - mostly because these people cannot hope. They have not lost hope, infact, they probably have it more than anyone else. But they are incapable of hoping because there is nothing they could hope for. Everything they want they have, anything else they can buy. There's no work, no effort, no cost. It's almost as if hope is necesary for survival. So tell me, why is this hope present? The athiest tells me that I am here because of a few katillion years of genetic lottery and this world is all there is. Then why do I feel that it's not? How can I know about something concrete and eternal when time and present pleasure is all I've known? It's like I've been implanted with a longing for something other than what I can see or hear or touch. Like I'm stuck here but someday I'll find out the truth. How can we relate so well to John Savage (Brave New World) or Truman Burbank (The Truman Show)? Maybe I'm feeling strange tonight and nobody feels this way. But for some reason I think they do.
Quietimes. Always the appropriate youth pastor suggestion for getting closer to God. For some reason though, 5 minutes of Bible reading and 1 minute of prayer didn’t seem to work. So I tried 15 minutes, then 30, then 1 hour. It may have helped me to know more about Jesus, but it really didn’t seem to far from reading a textbook.
Accountability. Very biblical, but if it’s relied on too much, the sin will come back when no one’s around to be accountable to. I was in a group that met on Fridays during the fall semester. Great accountability. Great discussions. Once Christmas break hit, though, it was back to the old ways.
Punishment. “If I do a certain sin I’ll do 50 pushups.” Nice try Nathan. Too bad that when I sin in the flesh, I can’t correct myself in the flesh either.
So the other day I had a revelation in the shower. Sin and prayer are the exact opposite. It is impossible to truly pray when you are sinning, and in the same way it is impossible to sin when you are truly praying. I’ve heard that to take sin out of your life, you have to replace the void with something else. That’s what prayer is for.
If you ask any marriage counselor, they’ll say that the most important part of a relationship is communication. You don’t get this from 5 minute bible readings, or accountability groups, or punishing yourself for bad things that you do. Serving in the church, singing and dancing in worship, speaking in tongues, feeding the poor and hungry, giving away money, all mean nothing without a foundation of prayer.
Which leads me to wonder – why is it that God usually speaks to me in the shower or on the john? Because that’s the only time that no one’s around and I’m alone in my thoughts.
This whole prayer thing is extremely challenging to me, because I am convicted of it now. To further build my relationship with God, I need to put aside the worries about not doing this or not doing that, and focus on talking with Him as much as possible.
The other night while watching coverage of the Isreal-Lebonese conflict, Benjamin Netanyahu, the former Isreali prime minister, was asked, "Do you think that Israel should be showing the 'utmost restraint' in attacking Lebenon as other world leaders have urged?" He answered, "Imagine if one of the United State's largest cities was bombed by terrorists. Would you sit back and watch? Or what about Pearl Harbor? On December 7, the president had two choices. The first would be to do nothing and hide from this terrorist nation hoping that they won't attack again. The second would be fighting back knowing that they will attack again." Then my mom added this piece of wisdom.
"Just because there is an absence of conflict does not mean there is peace."
This morning I realized how this can apply to sin. Even if you are the most moral person - never drinking, swearing, lying, always keeping your commitments, working out everyday, eating healthy, going to church whenever the doors are open - that doesn't mean there's peace. It just means that you're really good at running away. But soon, you're heart will beat fast and sweat will drip off you're skin, and you'll have to stop or else you'll die from exhastion. But then the terrorists catch up, and you'll die in their hands.
The only way to be free is to fight. Thankfully, Jesus has already taken care of that.