That there picture is of the lovely & talented K.T. Tunstall. She is a singer/songwriter from Scotland. ("Aye, she can make a kilt look good.")
I bring her up because of something that occurred to me a few days ago, and was then reinforced again yesterday while talking with a friend.
Tuesday I was mowing the lawn for my folks because I am such an awesome son. Naturally, I have my Ipod blasting in my ears. I put on a mix that I hadn't listened to before. Low and behold, K.T.'s song "The Other Side of the World" comes on. I hadn't really listened to the lyrics before, but this time I did. Smack! I had another one of those God using the ordinary & mundane to speak to you again things happen.
But before I continue, perhaps you should hear the song for yourself.
I think you probably know what I am going to write from here on out simply from having heard her explanation of the song.
"The Fire fades away.
Most of everyday is full of tired excuses.
But it's too hard to say.
I wish it were simple. But we give up easily.
You're close enough to see.
You're on the other side of the world to me.
Can you help me?
Can you let me go?
And can you still love me
when you can't see me anymore?"
That pretty much sums up where many of us...me in particular, are when it comes to our walk with Jesus.
The God portrayed in the Bible is highly relational. He desires a real & vibrant relationship with people. Yet even Believers are subject to wander away all the time. We allow all kinds of things to distract us from having that type of relationship. In fact, I often wonder if this whole blogging thing is a way to distract myself from that relationship.
A person's "Religion" is what ever is the most important to their lives. The idols we bow down to can be anything from a football game on T.V. to our cell phones. What ever we put in front of us and hold as central...that is our god.
I was talking with a friend yesterday who is engaged in something that he knows deep in his bones is not pleasing to Jesus. I asked him a question. "If God asked you to give it up, would you do it?" He replied that God is not asking him, only his pastor is...and only for one month. (Kind of a dry run, I guess.) But then he said something that really caught me. He said that what he was doing was like eating or breathing. In other words, it is not only natural, but absolutely necessary. (He is gonna be so mad at me when he reads this.)
Needless to say, if any of us finds ourselves in a situation where some behavior or habit that keeps us alienated from God is as natural as breathing, we have a problem. In fact, it is an idol that we are bowing down to. If something we embrace is keeping us from the relationship that Jesus desires to have with us, it is undeniably our new god.
By the way, the only finger I am pointing is directed right at myself.
I wake up in the morning with my head full of cobwebs and the first thing I do is sit down and check my e-mail and Face Book. I am terrible at any kind of Morning Devotions. I usually start to fall asleep, or pray fairly incoherently. I'm also terrible at any type of midday devotions, afternoon devotions, and evening & night devotions. My prayer life sucks most of the time.
I often feel like I am supposed to pray in King James english, or have something flowery & profound to say when I meditate. But even that thought is bullshit! My gut tells me that God doesn't care at all about anything that I have to say. "Abba is just happy that I show up" to quote Brennan Manning.
Maybe the analogy that I need to embrace is the one that Rick McKinley talks about in his sermons. It's like a little kid climbing up into their parent's lap. Mom or Dad doesn't care all that much about what the kid has to say. They just want to embrace and enjoy the moment.
How come my dog will take the chance to climb up and sit on my lap any chance she gets, but I can't even make much of an attempt to do that with God at least once a day?
My fire fades away. I'm full of all kinds of excuses. I give up easily. I keep Jesus on the other side of the world so I can't see him.
I went to a debate years ago over which day is the Sabbath. Some people seem to think that it's Sunday. It's actually Friday evening until Saturday evening if you look in the Bible. Anyway, the guy arguing for the whole Friday to Saturday thing went on to say that THAT was the day to "Worship the Lord." It struck me that such an idea is a load of crap. Call me crazy, but I thought we were supposed to "Pray with out ceasing."
Along time ago I heard a song by Keith Green written from the perspective of God to his followers. In it he has a line that goes like this; "To obey is better than sacrifice. I want more than Sundays and Wednesday nights. Because if you can't come to me everyday, then don't bother coming at all."
I guess that sounds like I am trying to Guilt Trip everyone, including myself. But I'm not. Maybe I am just thinking...or in this case writing, out loud.
Jesus isn't stupid. He knows that I, you, we have issues. He isn't the least bit surprised that we are, and continue to be, a mess. (I just picked up Rick McKinley's book, This Beautiful Mess, yesterday. I'll let you know how it goes.) When I read through the gospels, I don't find Jesus being very big on long distance relationships. But that doesn't mean he want us to strive in our walk with him. I think he is just happy to have us show up.
So yeah, that's what I think I'll go do for a while.
P.S. Here's a live version of that Keith Green song.