Tuesday, December 13, 2011

vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus aderit

I tweeted this phrase this past Sunday. One translation goes like this:

"Called or not called, God is there."

But what does that mean? And why was it encouraging to me?

When I first read it I felt a stirring somewhere behind my sternum. Because I took astronomy instead of a real science class I can't tell you exactly where, so I hope you understand where I'm talking about.  And this stirring, almost a wrenching, let me know that the words that I had just read meant something. Before I had any clue about what they meant, I knew that they were for me.

I think that these words mean so much to me because I have been struggling with the idea of my calling.

What is it?

And the bigger question still:

Do I have one?

And the reason why I have the last question is because I haven't been pursuing anything. I haven't been moving.

It reminds me of my Dad's GPS. When we are out geocaching the thing points the direction that we need to go. But sometimes there's an odd little quirk: if you're not moving in a direction, if you are stationary, it can get mixed up. As soon as you start walking though it gets it all sorted out and you're good to go. I'm not smart enough (see my course choices above)to tell you why, though I could probably make something up that sounds about right. Ask me and I'll do that, if you like.

I'm currently working at Subway as a "Shift Leader." I'm doing that because I turned down two jobs in the area because I didn't feel good about them, because I thought that I wasn't going to be too long for KC. And that may be true, but I'm now reeping the fruits of that decision. I have a desire in me to go places: to be better at the job, to move about geographically, etc. And the job I'm in right now has no place else for me to go.

But, according to the Latin, none of that matters. Forget it all. Because

Called or not called, God is there.

But there's another interpretation from Buechner:

"in the long run, whether you call on him or don't call on him, God will be present with you. That if we really had our eyes open, we would see that all moments are key moments. That he who does not love remains in death. That Jesus is the Word made flesh who dwells among us full of grace and truth."

So called or uncalled, God is with me. If I have a calling or have no calling, God is with me. God is with mean whether or not I call on Him.

Blessed Assurance.


Friday, December 9, 2011

fifteen minutes

Because I am behind in my writing I thought I would come up to Starbuck's, sit down, and write. Unfortunatly I spent the majority of the time reading about Robert Benson on his website, so I only have fifteen minutes left until the store closes. I'm going to write for those fifteen minutes and see what happens, let me know what you think.

Right after I wrote the last blog post I went to a used book store (Steel's Used Christian Book, in Northtowne) in the hopes of finding a copy of C.S. Lewis' "Space Trilogy." I found all three (two matching, one not) in addition to a book by Frederick Buechner, "Now and Then." I read "Telling Secrets" for my Spiritual Formation class at Belmont, so I thought I would give him a second thought. Glad I did.

In "Now and Then" Buechner attempts to tell the story of his life, or the second part at least. He writes about his time in New York at Union, in Exeter as the head of the fledgling Religion department, and Vermont as writer, husband, and father. He does a fantastic job of communicating what his life was actually like, breezing over the fun times and spending pages on the nothing time. It seems that life is like that some times: the places and times we want to last forever zip by, and the hard times drag.

The quote that struck me most was on page eighty-two: "I felt like a rat in a trap, and the trap I was in was myself and the new life I had chosen." I'm certian that if you are a regular reader of this little blog you'll understand why I liked that post. Some background for Buechner: he had just quit a job in New Hampshire that he was good at, that he enjoyed. He had grown a department that didn't exist into on that was on par with the English and History schools. He was connected to friends, he had a family. And yet he felt the need to move on to something more, something different. The parallel was too obvious for me.

"A rat in a trap, and the trap I was in was myself and the new life I had chosen." So what I do I do to get out of that trap? No clue. None whatsoever. But, you know, I'm ok with that right now. Life isn't how I thought it would be, but as I read on Benson's site:

"We tend to think the happy people are grateful because they got what they like. In reality the grateful people are happy because they like what they got." - David Steindl-Rast

So I'm working on being happy with what I have. Smelly sandwich-hands and all.

Look at that, four minutes to spare.


Monday, December 5, 2011

don't worry, it'll all get better?

For the majority of my life well meaning people have told me, whenever I complained about how tough things are, "don't worry, it'll be ok. You'll be fine. God'll take care of you."

When I confessed my desire for a romantic relationship and my commitment to the singleness God had deemed apropriate for who knows what reason the response was:

"Oh, you'll find that person when you least expect them."

"You're a great guy, you won't be single for long."

"Good for you, but you're the 'marriage type.' You'll find someone soon."

And while I appreciate the sentiment, I can't help but think about what the words actually mean. I may be picking apart the meaning too much, but no one has ever accused me about thinking to little about anything. In fact one of my co-workers at Subway, an eighteen-year old who I met less than a month ago, told me that I thought too much about everything. Well said, Tiffany.

If I find that person when I least expect them I'll never find them because I'm always going to be thinking about it. Or thinking about not thinking about it. So far, that's been my m.o. It's how I'm wired. That's not to say that I shouldn't change, but it's just how I've been for the past twenty-four years (or so).

Being a great guy and being single can be mutually exclusive. Just because someone is great doesn't mean they're gonna get married. Jesus wasn't, and he was pretty great.

Sure, I may be the "marriage type" but there are all sorts of people out there who are married who probably shouldn't be, right? Not thinking of anyone in particular, just the odds are pretty good.

What brought all of this up? Well, I was sitting in church yesterday (Redeemer down in Midtown KC) and the pastor was preaching on Hebrews 10:1-25, one of my favorite books in the Bible. The writer writes about how we have a High Priest who can identify with us, because He was tempted in every way. This is one of the great Truths of Christianity, and one that we should all hold fast to. It's something I don't think about nearly enough and that leads to a whole lot of whining. But this train of thought led me someplace familiar, and someplace I didn't like too much. The logic goes like this: God's got it taken care of, so don't worry. He will come through and make you clean. You don't need to trouble yourself over life because, eventually, God will take over and everything will be ok.

This made me think of coffee. What else? When I make a good cup of coffee it takes some things: good coffee, a good grinder, a good brew method, good water, and time. The time doesn't need to be good, there just needs to be enough of it, FYI. If I try to rush the process the coffee doesn't turn out. If I buy the coffee pre-ground and don't wet the filter and don't take enough time usually I end up with an under-extracted (weak) cup of coffee that isn't even worth drinking. On the other hand, if I take too much time I wind up with an overly strong, over-extracted cup that hurts to drink. There is an appropriate amount of time that it should take me to make a cup of coffee, and if I don't take it I won't get a good cup. It's as simple as that. I'm working on a chemical reaction and if I try to speed up that reaction it goes wrong. If I take ten minutes brewing the cup instead of four it won't be much good. If I try to brew sixteen ounces of coffee in my Chemex in two minutes it won't be any better. But if I take the time to heat my water, pre-wet the filter, wait to grind until my water is ready, and brew for three to four minutes I'll have something that I can enjoy. You can probably enjoy it with me, I usually make enough for two.

Our redemption takes an appropriate amount of time. Or, I should say, our sanctification takes an appropriate amount of time. As I write this I am being sanctified by God. I am being purified from sin. I have been redeemed by the sacrifice of our high priest, as have you (I assume if you're reading this). But the sanctification is something I'd like to focus on. To rush it is to rush the plan of an omnipotent God, to stall it is to claim that we know better. Just like a cup of coffee we take time to be purified. We have already be justified, set apart. But our purification is a process. And it is one that must take the time set aside for it. I have, often, caught myself looking ahead to what is to come. I'm, unfortunately, not above time like God is. I'm doomed to live in the present as a three-dimensional creature, crawling along my time-line in always the same direction. So the only time I see with any clarity is the now. The future is an uncertainty, the past is past.

I know that everything will be ok. Well, I at least hope that everything will be ok. But please, let me have the time to get there.