Jul 31, 2006

who are you?

So there's this story I heard recently about a bell-ringing Salvation Army woman. One day when she was jingling away a policeman came over and informed her she'd have to stop. A local ordinance had been put into play that would immediately prevent her from using noise to invite contributions from people on the streets.

Yet the next day she was out on the street corner doing an even greater amount of business than ever before. Even though she rang no bell she stood in the same traditional spot as always, this time waving one sign and then another in the air. People dropped in dollar after dollar and coin after coin because of her presentation.

The signs said "ding" and "dong."

We're all born with a sense that our lives are supposed to make a difference.

When we're kids we imagine ourselves in moments of greatness, from winning the big race/game/prize/crown or conquering the evil dragon/bully/opponent/queen with our trusty muscles/shoes/lightsaber/wand. Suddenly there is an unseen audience of millions who encourage us on with thunderous applause and cheers.

Yet so many times when we aspire for greatness we find ourselves falling short. As kids we don't get the things/trophies/relationships we want and it causes us to feel alone/angry/surprised. It turns us into the cynical adults we are, "believing" that it's better not to "believe" in the first place.

Ironically, deep down we really don't believe this false belief about believing.

It's just safer and tamer to pretend that we do.

We reason that if we stop risking we will stop losing, so we simply stop putting ourselves out there. We become civilized and secure... "good citizens" who do the right things throughout the week, feel a little naughty on the weekends, and then go back to the same cycle. "Soap, lather, rinse, repeat if necessary."

Then we look at ourselves in the mirror...

and every so often we catch ourselves staring back.

More than just merely looking at our faces, we actually catch the "real us" staring back. The one that we can't lie to because we know it's a lie. Somehow it's that little kid inside who is just waiting for us to use our adult resources to do all the things he/she dreamed we'd do when we were five.

Those are weird moments, aren't they? It's like we can't stay there too long or else we realize we'd have to redo the way we do our days. That metaphorical persona that stares right back at us reminds us that we've stopped believing (even though we haven't) and have given up on the race (even though somehow we're still stumbling forward).

We feel inadequate... tired... weary... not up for the task.

Yet beneath that cosmetic layer of excuses we know we are a barbaric warrior ready to live again... to face life with raw energy that has been inappropriately redirected to manage our public image instead of fueling a life that reflects the indescribable image we were created in.

Sadly, even many people who claim to live in a relationship with God have fallen into this trap. Jesus Christ often becomes a poster boy for a better life that we boil down to fundamental morality instead of allowing him to be the unpredictable proclaimer and leader of a fully-tilted integrated life we can't ever seem to fully grasp.

So often we dream about grabbing on to the richness that we already have in our hands.

Ironically, Mohandas Gandhi summed it up this way:
"You Christians look after a document containing enough dynamite to blow all civilzation to pieces, turn the world upside down, and bring peace to a battle-torn planet. But you treat it as though it is nothing more than a piece of good literature."
Since the beginning of time, God has been sharing compelling truths about who we really are by showing us he really is. Humanity originally experienced this in its purity when things were good in the Garden of Eden. After we went our own way, though, we had to rely upon various prophetic men and women to proclaim such insights to anyone willing to listen. One of the reasons we have the Bible is so that through its pages we find the amazing hope of God's story and the passion he has to redeem the things that are old in our lives in order to show us how Jesus is making them new.

Imagine that today is the last day of your life. What are you going to do with it? Not just the bullet points of your day... but the moments in between.

If we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us… we can overcome any obstacle in our way.

Even ourselves.
Don't fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don't act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. (James 1:22-24, MSG)


Katie said...

I've come back to this post numerous times because i start to read it and then get busy with something else. Normally I would just move on and read the next thing you posted, but each little bit of this post that I encountered in pieces drew me back to read it again and again until i completed it fully. I take that to mean that something in this needed to speak to me, to make me realize some truth about myself (maybe that self in the mirror that looks back at me). I really liked this (of course I did because I read it half a dozen times). Thanks Tony.

Tony Myles said...

Thanks for digesting... as someone who likes to cook/write/create, I enjoy knowing what I've prepared helped you enjoy the flavors/texts/productions of God's wonders.