Desire

Desire and impatience can go hand in hand if you’re not careful. At least, this has been my experience. Hungry? Walk 10 yards to the cupboard and grab a snack. Sweet tooth? Hop in the car and grab a DQ blizzard. Bored? Hop on the internet and click through Stumbleupon. You don’t even have to think, a myriad of pages catered to your interests pop up in split seconds, and if you get bored one click can change that in moments.

I definitely have issues with impatience. When I desire something, I want it NOW, and usually that means if instant gratification is possible (especially if its something petty) I’m more likely to take ahold of that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some superficial guy who feels entitled to everything, but lately I’ve been thinking about the bigger implications of impatience, especially when it comes to what we desire.

Throughout the past few years, I’ve elevated social relationships to a very high level in life. Seeking community has been good, especially during tough times but I find myself questioning or creating social conflicts that are either blown out of proportion or nonexistent. Why wasn’t I aware of this social event? Why do I feel “overlooked” sometimes? Why am I single? How do I respond to all of this?

Here’s a thought. How we respond to the small things can carry over to how we respond to the big things. If we condition ourselves to instant gratification with the small things, of COURSE the bigger desires are gonna be that much harder to manage.

Compromise isn’t the answer either. How many of you have gotten cozy with your textbook on a couch, because you wanted to be “comfortable” during your long study period and ended up dozing off instead of being productive? I’ve done that a lot. Or how about this: When this yearning for intimacy (read: a significant other) emerges, do you go to God or do you seek out “godly advice” in this area? This isn’t to say the latter shouldn’t be done. Of course it should. In my experience though, seeking advice obsessively causes MORE meditation on the desire, which doesn’t really solve the problem. So what does?

God does. That seems like the Sunday school answer, and it is. But more and more, as I alluded to in my last post, God has been revealing to me “Ryan, I AM the adventure of life.” A life with God is what we are all seeking, whether we realize it or not. Without Him, I think I would feel like King Solomon in Ecclesiastes – “Everything is meaningless.” So, next time you get impatient, whether its to fulfill a craving for a dark chocolate Hershey bar or discontentment with your current relationships, ask the Lord to reveal Himself to you in your current situation, or show you how you might be able to help others along that path in that moment. This seems to be the greatest remedy.


Transcendence.

This past weekend has been one of the best I’ve had in a long while. Friday evening marked a long anticipated concert, featuring Anberlin and Switchfoot at the Newport Music Hall (a more complete concert review will go up at my music blog, Tuned Up! in the coming days). Long story short, the concert was unforgettable. The vibe in the room was like that of a big family, and I even gained a couple of new friends in the process (later confirmed on Facebook, of course). The music, especially during Switchfoot’s set just seemed to be so Christ-centered in spite of the lack of any direct references to His Name.

Following the conclusion of the show, my group experienced an encounter with Stephen Christian of Anberlin that resulted in hugs being exchanged, and then we caught Jon Foreman of Switchfoot giving an acoustic, bare bones aftershow to a small audience in the chill of that October eve. The ambience moved into a worshipful one, especially when Foreman played his well known solo piece, “Your Love Is Strong.”

Afterward, I was walking back to our meeting place with my friends Daniel and Paul from my young adult minstry group, talking about the evening. Daniel and I began talking about the existential crises of sorts we have been dealing with of sorts (Relevant has an excellent article on this phenomenon). We agreed that at this stage in life sometimes it was a struggle to just be optimistic in general, but really the weird feelings that come with this period can be hard to articulate. Switchfoot’s song themes address these existential conflicts a bunch, alluding to what is being revealed to be true to me more and more each day. How much I really need for God to be behind everything. God IS the adventure behind life. This is why we were created. God had no need for humanity, but where’s the adventure in a universe that’s void and without form?

As Paul, Daniel and I left our little concert bubble we were rudely awakened to the flawed nature of the world when we witnessed a fight on a street corner, between two women who looked like they were about to kill each other. This perfection that we scratched the surface with at the concert was contrasted in that moment with a situation that scratched the surface at why the world needed God to intervene for redemptive purposes.

My thought process continued the following evening at a fall gathering of my college/young adult group (Alive) near campus. My friend Pete and I walked over to a Speedway to grab some drinks, and waiting for Pete to make his purchase I noticed a homeless guy eyeing me. “Can I have 50 cents?” he asked sheepishly. I said “take a dollar, buy yourself a sandwich” to which he stammered, “Oh, Ok! I’m gonna go right over there…” before scampering off. After the party, as some of us were leaving we encountered a young, blue collar guy who was very eager to talk to us about the misadventures of his cat. I couldn’t help but wonder if we would form a friendship with him in the future, given the proximity to the Alive ministry house. As I drove home, I reflected on the good times combined with the opportunities to reach out. My friend Daniel from Alive once told me that when he gets antsy/anxious sometimes that means he needs to get out and serve. I’m beginning to think the same is true for those that go through these existential crises. At just the right time, God provides opportunities to take the focus off of ourselves. I am reminded of Romans 5, when Paul writes “You see, at just the right time, Christ died for the ungodly” in verse 6. If we can trust God to save us at just the right time, certainly we can trust Him with deliverance from doubts and anxiety at the right time if we allow Him to. When we make God the adventure, everything else seems to light up.


Wow.

I got this email from my online GMO penpal Richard from Kenya yesterday.

Subject: Wonderful Miracles
Dear Servant of God brother Ryan,

I thank God for the miracles and wonders that God did yesterday. I went to pray for a sick man who was sick with evil spirit and was talking in minus resting. God really helped him alot.
I also went in another family where both father and mother are witch craft. I talked the word of the Lord through the holy spirit and they were open and confessed that they had killed 17 people.They accepted God as their personal Savior. Thanks for your prayers of daily.May God bless you alot.
Continue to pray for this people to stand in the Lord and Satan to be ashamed.

Wow. Release from that kind of bondage really is a miracle.