One-Sided Friendship

Hello Friends,

So, I just recently finished reading all of Dante’s Divine Comedy.  Yes, all three epic works.  And, I’m not going to lie, that was a lot of Dante.  I am very excited to be moving on to a new book.  But when we finished reading, we spent some time, in class, talking about friendship.  We compared and contrasted classical models of friendship to the Christian model presented by Dante.

One of the things my teacher pointed out was something that St. Augustine said.  This was something to the effective of: for Christians, friendship has to so with with a desire to see God in the other person.  The way my teacher explained this was that when you are friends with someone who knows that Lord, you see God in them, and when you are friends with someone who doesn’t know the Lord, you want to see God in them.

However, I think it goes beyond that.  I think when someone is a good friend, you are seeing God reflected in them, and that brings you joy.  However, when someone is a bad friend the Christian response should not be anger, but rather a longing for them to better reflect God, not because of the effect it has on you, but because of the effect that it will have on them.  Friendship is about wanting what is best for the other person.

However, that is easier said than done.  It is very hard to be in a one-sided friendship.  And it can be very draining.  But, I think, one of the best things to do when you find yourself drained from being in friendship where you are doing all the pursing, is remember how often God pursues us and we reject him.  God does not love us because He gets anything out of it.  He loves us because He is a gracious God, and part of being a Godly friend is reflecting that grace, even when it takes a toll on your emotions.

Thanks for Reading!

Until Next Time, Stay Out of Trouble.

 

Because of Grace

Hello Friends,

“As you get to know people more, you realize your need for grace.”  This was something one of my professors said in class this week that really stuck out to me.  The more you get to know someone the more you realize that they are a sinner.  But also, the more they get to know you, the more they realize that you are a sinner.

By rights, knowing this about one another, we should all despise each other.  Yet, God, in His grace, saw fit to give us a capacity to love.  And what a beautiful gift that it is.  It is because of grace that parents love their children, and children love their parents.  It is because of grace that husbands love their wives, and wives love their husbands.  And most important of all, it is because of grace that God loves us, and we love Him. 

boy carrying bear plush toy

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

My own personal need for grace is never more apparent to me than when I have a friend who loves me well.  No one is perfect, and I am no exception.  There are times when I am sulky and rude and self-centered.  And more often than not, in those moments, I have friends who care enough about me to give me chocolate and coffee and the time of day.  Because they care for me, and they want to see me doing well.

It is so important to cherish loved ones and be kind to strangers, because every healthy human relationship is merely a result of God’s grace.  I’ll leave you with one last quote from another of my professors.

“It takes a lifetime to get how much people are worth.”

Thanks for Reading.

Until Next Time, Say Out if Trouble!

Going to Nineveh

Hello Friends,

Today, I have a question for you: what is your Nineveh?  This is something that has been on my mind this week, as all my plans for the summer seem to be falling through.  For me, I believe my Nineveh is the Unknown.

Over these past several months, I have been working desperately to find a Summer Internship, and things seemed to be going well.  I’ve had interview after interview, and I even got one job offer. But, these past two weeks have been silent, and every moment that my phone doesn’t ring is a moment I lose hope. The job I wanted the most is now out of my reach.  That was a really hard one for me.

Last week I heard a sermon in which the pastor said, “When you pray you should say, ‘God, I want this thing; I think you want this thing for me, but if you are not going to be with me in this thing, don’t send me.’”  I prayed that this week, and God answered.  He’s not sending me.

Going to NinevehI’d like to be able to smile and say, “this is exactly what I asked for.  God works all things together for the good of those that love Him.  It’s not what He wants for me.” You get it.  In my head, I can say those things, and I do believe them.  But that doesn’t change the fact that in my heart I feel lost and disappointed.

So, what can I do with those feelings?  Is it possible to praise God for answering my prayer and at the same time mourn over the way that He answered it? Can I trust God with my future and at the same time fear the uncertainty of it?  I think a lot of people would say, “no,” that fear and disappointment show lack of faith.

I think those people are wrong.

Before he was crucified, Jesus was afraid.  He asked God not to send Him to the cross (Luke 22:42), and I’d be willing to bet that when God’s answer to that prayer was to send Him to the cross anyways, He was disappointed. Yet, He went.  And that’s the kicker, isn’t it: He went to the cross with fear and disappointment, not in spite of His trust in the Father, but because of it.

Refusing to go where God sends us, like Jonah refusing to go to Nineveh, that is lack of faith.  Feeling afraid of the Unknown and disappointed when plans don’t pan out, that is natural.  The question of faith is not necessarily a question of how you feel about the events of life.  It is more often a question of, when you feel disappointed and afraid, will you go to Nineveh anyway.

 

PC: Marcelo Vaz

Friends to the End

Do you ever wish you had the power to fix everyone’s problems and just make their lives better?  I’ve been feeling this a lot lately as people tell me about their heartbreaking struggles.  I listen dumbstruck as they tell me of loved ones they have lost, hostile in environments they have lived in, and battles they have fought.  At a loss for words my only thought, my only wish is to go back in time and make those horrible things not happen to them.  What words of affirmation and comfort do you offer to people fighting battles that seem impossible?  What can you do to fill their lives with joy and happiness when all they have known is grief?  I think the most heartbreaking thing to see is someone who is resigned to their grief.  The people my heart bleeds for, the ones I want to help the most, are the completely closed-off-open-books.

The closed-off-open-books are the friendly people that make you feel like you know them so well right from the start, but then slowly you begin to see that you know nothing about them.  These are people who have been broken. They accept the fact that life has and will continue to beat them down.  Is it enough to tell a broken person that Jesus loves them?  Is it helpful to tell someone who’s fighting that God is still in control?  The truth is, I don’t know the answer.

Often times you read blogposts from people who come prepared with answers to the questions they are asking.  Most bloggers are that one kid in school that ALWAYS does the homework and is always prepared for class.  I’m not going to lie; usually, I am that kid.  But today, I don’t know.  Today I have more questions than answers.  I do know that I believe God is in control of every situation.  He is using His power to work good in the lives of all those who love Him, no matter the circumstance.  But when someone is watching a loved one die from cancer, is that knowledge comforting?  I know that I believe that God uses hard circumstance to make people stronger and draw them closer to Him.  But when you can’t find a job to pay the bills, does that knowledge help?  Today I’m the student who didn’t do her homework and is asking a plethora of questions in an attempt to try and mask my unpreparedness in the school of life.  All I know is that I long to help those in need.  To offer comfort and to give them some happy thought.  To help them find joy in times of peace and strength in time of trouble, because that is what good friend does.  And I would have no idea what it means to be a good friend, if Jesus didn’t show me.  For there is no greater friend than the one who would die a painful death to right your wrongs and save your soul.  So, who knows perhaps just being a good friend is comfort enough?

Art’s God

Art speaks loud and clear,
begging you its voice to hear.
A picture says a thousand words.
A poem speaks undeterred.
All artists have tools and tales,
but messages from the heart don’t fail.

A painting may tell of gods above.
A poem may rhyme of gods below.
A picture may capture gods of love.
A melody may sing gods of sorrow.
A dance may point to gods of war.
A film may direct one god or more.

Each artist must think long, hard, and well
about the gods of which they tell.
As one who has chosen a God and an art
I’ll issue a warning to those at their start:
Be careful the story of gods you relay
Or you’ll answer to someone for those led astray.

Fountains of Faith

People flocked to the fountain and its cooling spray.
Its bubbling spring with no detectable source,
was something within her that sprang forth,
calming the masses and offering hope.

She knew of the river the flowed within her,
encouraging, demanding, loving, but stern.
The sound of the river offered her peace
and people were comforted by her serene face.

Abundantly joyful, unbreakably strong
her presence could make days less hard, less long.
She was loved and hated by those in her mist,
but the river always flowed and the fountain had no rest.

So the monument stands, effervescent with hope.
The people, they flock, for its source do they grope.
The fountains a guide to the river that flows,
in each person it touches a bubbling spring grows.

For Fatigued Flowers

Do you think the flower ever gets tired of growing?
Does it think to itself on a day when the suns not glowing,
“here I am growing; but where are the people going?”
The flower has one purpose only: to glorify God.
As the people walk past and it’s trampled upon
the flower does not get angry, nor wish they were gone.

Do you think the flower ever gets tired of blooming?
Does it think while stretching in the sun’s light,
“my petals are opened, but you have only inward sight?”
The flower never screams, “Don’t forget about me!”
Even forgotten flowers still blossom with grace,
though they wither from the coldness of the human race.

Do you think the flower ever gets tired of hoping?
Does it think as it sees bouquets walking by,
“Yes today I want picked, so tomorrow I’ll die?”
A withered, forgotten flower is still a happy flower,
because it remembers its one day in the sun’s light-shower,
It remembers the sun’s merciful warmth and does not cower.

So flowers never tire of growing, blooming, and hoping.
As they join together to fill the earth’s meadow,
these flowers bloom unafraid of the trees dark shadow.
Each flower is a beautiful sight, when receiving God’s light,
it never feels useless, nor forgets its purpose,
for it remembers to glorify God in the act of existence.


 

An Eternal Rock Concert?

So last night I was so blessed to be able to cross off the number two thing on my Bucket list.  I got to see Bon Jovi, my absolute favorite band, live, in concert.  It was the most fantastic experience of my entire life.  When the opening band came out on stage I suddenly got very emotional.  You see my mom introduced me to Bon Jovi at a young age.  I’ve been listening to him my whole life and so many of his songs help me express my feelings.  I have been dreaming about this day for as long as I can remember and it finally came!  I honestly was on the verge of tears when I realized my lifelong dream was about to come true; I was about to be in the presence of Jon Bon Jovi!

As I fought back these tears another realization hit me.  If this is what it is like being in the presence of Bon Jovi, how much more fantastic will it be for me when I am in the presence of God?!  Do not misunderstand me, I am not equating Bon Jovi to God, but I am drawing a parallel between the experiences I have had with each of them.  As I already mentioned I grew up singing Bon Jovi songs, waiting for the day I would get to see him perform live.  Similarly, I was raised in a loving, Christian home.  I grew up reading God’s word, singing His praises and I continually wait for the day I will get to be in His glorious presence.  If I almost cried at a Bon Jovi concert, I cannot imagine what an emotional wreck I will be when God finally calls me into His glorious presence, and you know what?  I can’t wait!