Friday, July 29, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
You know that feeling when emotions are running high and you can feel your spirit being tugged in multiple directions at the same time? Joy, sorrow, anticipation, fear, and awe—all mixed into one. Color. Truth. Death. Life. Stories. Birth. Opportunities. Fruit. Plants. Trash. Songs. Words. Prayer . . . I’m trying to hash it out. To see where it leads; to see what lessons I’ll learn.
This is oddly placed, but all these jumbled thoughts coincide (providentially?) with the end of Harry Potter, so I think this might help: It’s a quote from a Relevant magazine, speaking about the end of a fictional story (Harry Potter) that had the power to tug heart-strings and captivate fans,
". . . But his [Harry's] death [and life] does what any great Christian art ought to: Using a profound story, it provides a singular glimpse into the Christian story that can both deepen and widen our experience of faith."
I, for sure, have questions that yearn for answers; physical needs that need to be met; ideas and thoughts and dreams that I don’t want to see quenched. I desire immediacy! But at the same time relish the Story. Oh the frustration of conundrums!
On Monday night some friends and I went to go see Harry Potter 7.2. The film was successfully dramatic; the score, breath-taking; the suspense, immense. But when it was over I felt a little bare, maybe empty is the right word. It is similar to the feeling I get when I accidentally leave my ring on the kitchen counter instead of on my finger, where it belongs. I spent all of today at work trying to figure this feeling out.
And I think it can be boiled down to the same reason I enjoy/must/feel obligated to sit through the entire credits at the end of a film. My friends often think I’m crazy. And I am sure I can see the theater cleaners out of the corner of my eye with their brooms at the ready. But you see, I take joy in seeing the hearts, hands and minds behind the scenes. The art that I just watched didn’t appear out of thin air. Big dreams, deep concentration, and long, hard hours were poured into its creation. Pieces had to be fit together, teams forged, trust and sight balanced until the work was completed.
The credits of a film are not glamorous; they do not often exhibit special effects nor the stars’ shining faces. But they do tell a story. And on days like today, it feels like that story is more fulfilling than the one they worked so hard to create. I find joy in the process. The act of creating—shaping characters, building places, forming themes, revealing secrets, offering promises.
The process. That is what I find so compelling. It is precisely why everyone loves a good story. The beginning might be haunting; the ending, heroic, but what is in the middle is what counts. It teaches us to have faith/patience/trust. Anticipation runs like a fever, but the story can only be told as quickly as it is created, as each page is turned and each new chapter begun.
Some of my favorite writers encourage the living of a “better story.” Such wise advice! But so often we are only concerned with the starts and the finishes. No one hopes for or expects “40 years in the desert,” yet those are often the times we glean from the most. So next time you finish a good book or thrilling film, take a second to step back and think about the process—the brilliance of creative wisdom, but most importantly the loving mercy of our Creator who gave us a True Story against which all others will be measured.
Sunday, July 3, 2011
This is a re-post from the 4th of July weekend two summers ago when I took part in Jews for Jesus' Summer Witnessing Campaign. This year's Campaign is going on right now in New York, and I can't help but think back to my experience and reflections:
In C.S. Lewis' The Silver Chair, Jill Pole and Eustace Scrubb are sent on a quest by Aslan the Great Lion. They are given four signs to guide them. They see the third sign outside the remains of a giant city: the giant words carved into the stone, "UNDER ME."
This past week, we have spent countless hours handing out thousands of gospel tracks in New York City's subway system. Dank and dirty, these underground tunnels corral the people of New York from point A to point B, from train to train, from entrance to exit. Marching along in their daily monotony, most of these people do not expect to encounter Jesus, much less anything that would get in their way. But there we are, dressed in t-shirts proclaiming "Jews for Jesus," anxiously awaiting a willing hand to accept our message of Truth.
As much as I these underground excursions are not my favorite, I am reminded of Jill and Eustace's adventure. To complete their task and find the truth, they had to journey under the ruined city. Likewise, we venture from "top side" to "bottom side" to meet those who need Jesus. We go down to the darkness to bring people the Light.
In Isaiah 9:2 the prophet said, "The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them." Some years later, Jesus taught by the Sea of Galilee, saying, "The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned." (Matthew 4:16)
I am not in New York this summer. Nor Israel, India or Ontario. I have family and friends serving in all those places. I'm at home, still hoping for my dream job, juggling two part time jobs and looking down every alley for furniture to recreate. At first I was a little sad to be missing out on fun adventures, but as the summer has progressed, I have realized the joy of being able to pray for my friends in their far-flung locations. Having done Campaign; having served at Camp for so long, I know the challenges that arise and the blessings that flow. So I will continue to lift my friends to the Lord, placing them in His capable Hands, trusting in His immeasurable strength and wisdom.