Listening and Leaving

It is probably time to listen, but if you listen, that means you will need to leave. Leaving is hard.

But, it is not just about you. There are others who are supposed to benefit from your listening and leaving. So it comes down to who you really want to be. Because you can stay. You can remain as is. Nothing has to change. But, there is a difference between a man and a father, a reader and a writer, an admirer and an artist. Everyone takes, but not everyone gives.

You may not know who he is, but you do not like Wang Sicong. His dad is worth thirty billion dollars, so Wang has plenty of disposable and discretionary income and he knows it. Recently, he bought his dog, Coco, eight IPhone 7’s. Previously, he had bought Coco two Apple Watches with luxury bands worth close to $37k.1 See, I told you that you did not like him.

Why the disgust? Jealous? It is more than that isn’t it? He does more than just take. To take and never give is bad enough. But, he does not just take. He wastes. So what does this have to do with you, because the most expensive thing you have ever bought your dog is an appointment with a vet?

When God promised to bless Abraham, it was for a purpose greater than Abraham. The promise was good news for his life for sure. He was chosen, for some reason, to play an extremely significant role in the historical work of God stretching from ancient times all the way to us who read about him on our cell phones. But, tucked in the promise is that he will not only be blessed, he will “be a blessing.”2

To receive that blessing and to be a blessing, Abraham had to listen and leave – leave his home, leave his family, leave his culture. I am not saying that everyone has to be a missionary overseas or even physically move. But, I know that for some of you reading this there is something very specific you are hearing and you immediately know what it is. Listen. And leave.

Leave that mindset. Leave that bitterness. Leave that sphere of influence. Leave that lifestyle. Leave that habit. Leave that ineffectiveness. Packing up and carrying the boxes one by one is not easy, but right now you are just waiting for blessings to be delivered to your doorstep addressed only to you. Right now you are a man, but it is time to be a father. Right now you read, but it is time to write. Right now you admire, but it is time to create. Blessings go to waste in the fertile land of the blessed unless the blessed replant them outside of their own gardens.

But, to do that, you have to listen and you have to leave.

 

1 http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/20/asia/china-richest-man-dog-iphones/
2 Genesis 12:2

The Death of Our Fairies

Her fairy died a brutal, fiery death. She loved that fairy, but it was gone and there was nothing she could do about it. For her it was sad. For me? I laugh every time I think about it. (watch it here.)

Life as we know it is the aftermath of loss. Things were good. Perfect even, but I guess that was not enough for the “garden people.” We wanted more power, more control. We wanted God equality. 1 What we got were jobs and pain. Paradise lost.

That house you want, the new car, job, shirt, better organization to sooth your OCD – none of that will work. There is nothing wrong with wanting “new.” Getting a better job or a car that does not break down every week is great. Heck, go to the mall and have fun. That is not a problem. Have some healthy ambition for goodness’ sake. But, you need to know this: That ache will not go away.

Make peace with it. You cannot relieve it, but you should not try to kill it either. Trying to relieve it will leave you exhausted and in debt. Trying to kill it will leave you disgruntled or even worse, numb. The deepest of souls learn contentedness through understanding the ache and providing space for it.

The ache is the longing for life as it was meant to be. And you cannot fully return to that existence no matter how much money or power you have. Not here. Not now. That ‘fairy’ is not coming back.

But, all is not lost. The ache continues to resonate so deeply because there are times in which our souls encounter the beauty in which they were meant to live. There are moments with nature – sunsets, animals, trees – and moments with each other – our children, spouses, friends – that are “garden moments.” Moments that resuscitate a flat-lined soul.

What we see in Jesus is so often a return to the original intentions of God. He showed us the way back.  As a human, He was not interested in having equality with God. 2 Wielding the power to be in control and to do it “my way” is what got the human race where it is now. We are like the kid who could not wait to grow up only to become an adult wishing he was a kid again. Jesus did not take another bite of that fruit.

So, we must follow Him back to the land of the original intentions of God. But, you cannot hike the trail back to the garden alone. It has to be done in a group. The problem with group hiking is then you have that guy over there with an ego problem and that lady with her own agenda. Sometimes it seems better to just hike alone.

But, imagine hiking the trail back to the garden with a group of people who were truly grateful to be able to return. They had made peace with God and that dictated how they treated you. They were there to hike. They were there to finish and they were committed to finishing with you. That was it. That was their agenda.3 I would hike with people like that.

Let your fairies, whatever they are, fly into the fire. They are just extra weight. Slide “the ache” into a good fitting backpack because you are going to be carrying it until you see “the garden.”

“In this world you will have trouble. But I give you my peace. That where I am there you may also be.” 4

 

1 Genesis 3:5
2 Philippians 2:6
3 Philippians 2:1-4
4 “Where I am, There You May Also Be.” Lyrics by Rich Mullins

Stab Yourself in the Leg

Mylan does not make the EpiPen because they care about you. They make it because they want cash money homie. That is why the price has been raised 15 times since 2009 making a two pack $609.

“No one’s expecting Mylan to give away their products. But empathy is the most human emotion. And when you raise the price year after year — by a lot — for a drug that’s lifesaving, it shows a complete lack of empathy,” according to Wells Fargo analyst David Maris.”1

That is because empathy does not turn a profit. Profit, not empathy, is at the center of the framing story of business.

Obviously, our framing stories can get way out of line. Seeing life through lenses tinted by the drive for money, pleasure, and power is what creates the El Chapos, Hugh Heffners and Anthony Wieners of the world. But for most of us, our framing stories are not so grossly skewed.  But, they are skewed nonetheless.

The way we see life may have a fear astigmatism, nearsighted selfishness or farsighted worry. When we navigate through life wearing these cheap lenses we take wrong turns right into the judgmental perfect-mother cult, American Dream Christianity, and hate-fueled politics. We can drive while wearing these lenses, but we cross the yellow so much, we should get pulled over.

The same goes for our churches. Our less than perfect vision causes us to lay our foundation a little crooked resulting in over-hyped gatherings full of trendy jeans or opinionated sermons full of disdain. My faith heritage at some point along the way started to focus on thoroughly modeling the New Testament church. Seems like a good idea except it was a bit off of the mark of thoroughly modeling the way of Jesus. We ended up a bit Pharisaical about how to worship God correctly. This resulted in a lot of split churches mostly over what we can and cannot do in the auditorium during the appointed time.

We mean well I assume. All of us are trying to find our way through life and do it right, well or successfully. But, if we got in a room and talked about our personal approach to getting life right, Suzy would bring intentional parenting, Ron would bring theological accuracy, Sally would bring Plexus or body wraps and Ken would bring the 2nd Amendment.

Moses brought the law. Jesus brought grace and truth. (John 1:17) This is not “truth” as in biblical correctness. This is deep breath clarity and the peaceful final word wrapped in sleep number grace. This is “setting free” truth. Not just from the wages of your loose morals, but from wrong-headed approaches to life. He was there from the beginning and understands how life is to be lived. When we all gracefully seek clarity, life works better. The wearer of lenses darkened by anything else will not recognize the wisdom in this style of living. (John 1:1-6) They ignore Steve Jobs when he offers to help them with their Mac.

Swollen and suffocating? Go ahead and stab yourself in the leg with an EpiPen of grace and truth as often as you need to. Hand them out to your neighbors and pass them around at church. They are free.

 

1 http://money.cnn.com/2016/08/29/investing/epipen-price-rise-history/