Saturday, April 25, 2015

Our Potipharian Prisons

It is clear in my mind that this post is for me, in the cathartic sense. That bag in the picture has been with me since 1987 when I was a junior in high school. Yesterday, twenty-eight years and several schools later, I carried it home at the end of my last week with the company for which I have been working for the past 670 days, give or take. I did shed a few tears, but not because I was leaving that work. I cried because I had been in it at all. 

I imagine it's like the tale of some who are freed from prison after serving their sentences. They may weep. But the tears are not born in the joy of their release. They are born in the misery of having been incarcerated, and the many losses that come with it.

That blue book bag carries many memories for me; the kind that cause me to consider burning it. I am a Christian. So I ought to run all experiences through the pages of Scripture, and I attempt to do so. I am also a man, and not a strong one. So I often find it difficult to see through the pain to the meanings that make it bearable. It's terribly trying for me to look back over twenty-eight years and make meaningful sense of much of it. Some say we write our own story. I say that's largely bullshit (See Pr 16, for example).

Frankly, the past three plus years have felt like my Israeli captivity (Ne 1:1-3); my Potipharian prison (Ge 39:20); my Jeremiahan cistern (Je 38:6); my Asian burden (2 Co 1:8-10). Of course life could be made more burdensome. And it very well may be.

Perhaps the comfort and hope is that God is more than a governor, He's also a redeemer. And if we traced out the stories, ultimately Israel and Joseph and Jeremiah and the Apostle Paul can be said to have benefited from their afflictions. But they were still real afflictions that had to really be endured.

Two of my recent co-workers pressed me yesterday about the reasons for my lack of excitement regarding my soon approaching move and new work (I imagine my disposition gave me away). They called me a pessimist.  I don't believe I'm a pessimist (Although I did tell them that excitement is for suckers). I think of myself more as a realist. And in reality, new things come with their own share of burdens. Moreover, they rarely deliver on the hype we might pour into them. Has anything ever positively been all that I thought it might be?

In addition, none of our earthly treasures are meant to be altogether or permanently satisfying. That's not their design. They are, after all, finite and fleeting. So for me to tie up in them an over-inflated (meaning idolatrous) hope, is foolish. I have a new work in a new place. Okay then. I hope to do some good. Time will tell.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

To the Christian Rich - You Can't Keep It

Thus I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored by acting wisely under the sun. This too is vanity.
Ecclesiastes 2:18-19, From Solomon, perhaps the wisest man (except for Jesus) 
who has ever walked in this world.

This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own 
what you have prepared?
Luke 12:20, From Jesus Christ, God the Son 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Highest Part of a Christian's Life

"I feel sure that as long as we look on prayer chiefly as the means of maintaining our own Christian life, we shall not know fully what it is meant to be. But when we learn to regard it as the highest part of the work entrusted to us, the root and strength of all other work, we shall see that there is nothing that we so need to study and practice as the art of praying aright." 
 Andrew Murray (1828-1917), from the Preface of his book With Christ in the School of Prayer