Lately I’ve been really trying to find my voice as a writer. I can hear myself more clearly in my writing when I’m honest about things that I’m dealing with. Things like life, and love, and everything in between. Somehow as crazy as it seems, it feels good to be honest with a blank page.
I can tell this page how I really feel about things, and not worry about being judged or have fear of reproach. I can share my ideas and hopes with this Word document. My dreams and aspirations. My fears and regrets, past hurts and pains. I think that I will name him William the Word document.
William sits in silence until he’s feeling drained. At which point he politely reminds me with great gusto that my battery is low.
I’m just looking for You in something. Not the generic everyday be grateful for what you have kind of way, but I’m looking for You.
I read about You every night before I go to sleep and I ask myself, “Can this be true?”
“Can He be true?”
“Is He who is says He is?”
My heart says yes. My soul says yes.
I am tired of hearing everyone else’s account of You. I want to know for myself. In a real and absolute way. I want to know that You are more than a character in a really old book. I need to know that You actually hear me.
I don’t think Jesus would wear skinny jeans, I think He’d be more of a Wrangler type of guy. That’s just my opinion of course. At 5’10 (on a good day) 255lbs I tried the whole skinny jean scene…#nobueno. Let’s just say there was a whole lot of man in each of those pant legs. At the time even though I couldn’t breathe I thought I was super cool. Looking back now, not so much. It just confirms, the extremes that we will go to in today’s society to look hip, or be popular. I go to some churches and everyone looks spectacular. I can’t tell if I’m in church or on set for a Gap ad. Don’t get me wrong, I think looking your best for church honors the Lord, but I’ve been feeling like though we may look great, the people that we minister too may not be as fashionably aware as we are. I’m reminded of this when I’m in impoverished areas, or on some back roads in the country, and I’m talking with people who live in bad places. Some have, not showered or shaved in days. Their clothes are tattered and their shoes are worn. A lot of times, these people are only a few miles away from manicured church lawns and the cover worthy fashionistas that grace our aisles on Sunday morning.
I believe vanity is the thief that has robbed the church blind. We place a great deal of importance on the appeal of the message but not too much stock in it’s content. When these fabrics wither, and these buildings crumble no one will care about them. That awesome Diamond Co. shirt you bought, that Easter dress you wore last year, or those iguana green skinny jeans you wore last Sunday, that’s not going to matter to anyone. What will matter is who you helped, how you encouraged, what you did, what you said, and how you said it. I don’t ever want anyone God places in my life to feel like I’m out of reach.
I look at Jesus, and He was right there with the people He was ministering too. He was not in the latest designer clothes. He was not riding around on the newest model horse and chariot. He believed in who He was, and did not need to puff his image up with material goods. Let that sink in. I think about the sphere of influence Jesus had, from beggars to government politicians. He went from slums to the synagogues and was received in both not because of what he wore, but because of who He was. Who He was, was magnified by what He did, and how he did it. Who He was and what He did are what we are still talking about 2000 years later because of who He is.
Listen I am a fan of style and all things hip. I’m simply saying let’s not let our swagger separate us from the people were trying to reach.
Whenever I am given the privilege of leading worship this is one of the songs that I do often, because the lyrics are simple but I feel they are profound and speak to the very fabric of my needs and something that I need to be reminded of daily is Jesus love for me is extravagant. regardless of all the wrong I’ve done and said. He considers me a friend.
I’ve been ashamed to tell people where I live for the past few years. It’s funny how we let things define us. We all fall prey to letting our fears, follies and shortcomings speak for us. Unfortunately as of right now, the area where I live and am trying to raise a family is not the greatest place. So many nights I spent hating, and questioning what divine purpose was being fulfilled by my occupancy there? The scriptures read that “hope deferred makes the heart sick…” and once again that is a truth that resonates deep through the passages of my life. It’s the hope, not the struggle that floods my heart with grief when it seems good never comes to pass. I am a fan of good, and things that are right. I admire fabled stories of good triumphing over bad which I believe is justice in its own sense, so not only have I found myself in a place I’d rather not be I cannot reason why I’m there. I believe that a great injustice had taken place in my life, I think that the same can be said about some of the other residents of the community I live in as well. Most of us are all living with a sense of why, and our hearts are all sick. Some of us have not known hope for quite sometime.
It’s amazing how often times some of the most inspirational stories originate from the most devastating circumstances. Almost like how soldiers find purpose in the trenches during war, purpose that gives them the will to persevere. It’s how mothers find the strength to raise sons and daughters in the absence of their fathers often times raising them to be productive members of society. You know how the truth of equality rises from the ashes of oppression? They found truths to their given situations, after they came to view the problem not as only a problem but an opportunity to change what has went wrong and make it right. The struggle is only as large as the heart of the person will allow it to be. So I’m no longer ashamed of where I live, if anything my living here was necessary. Maybe to gain true definition of hope you must be surrounded by people who feel hopeless. I am learning to love people who don’t love me. To have vision for young black men who society writes off as menacing. How these babies clothe their insecurities in violence so that your too afraid to ask them how they are doing, or what they want to do with their lives. I’ve seen first hand the adverse affect of drugs and how it plagues the lives of residence in a community, and claims the lives of those who can’t break free. I’ve seen widows and fatherless children, I have also seen men and women who are hopeful for the future and work hard to provide for their families. They have not lost sight and are ever faithful in their belief that trouble won’t last always. I’ve found purpose on those beaten sidewalks under the street light on those muggy Georgia nights. I learned the struggle is only part of the story it does not define it.
I was looking at the flag the other day as I stood there listening to the National Anthem being blasted over speakers at a high school football field. I looked at it and I just thought about all the wars that have been fought to fly that flag. I tried to imagine all the lives that have been lost, and blood that’s been shed. I thought about campaigns and politics, and how none of that really matters when you think about what some have given to call this place America. I wondered if we had forgotten the meaning of one nation, and what it took to be one nation? Countries all over the world losing hundreds of thousands of people in effort to be one nation. Surely those who sacrificed their lives are worthy of us setting aside our differences to be one nation, to be the America they fought and died for. I wondered how we stopped believing as Americans? When did we give up on ourselves? When did our opinions outweigh our convictions and take precedence over the honor that is due to those who served our country? How could we give up on a country those brave men and women gave their lives for? As that flag waved in the spring breeze on that early May afternoon, there in the presence of other Americans of all races and backgrounds, I thought about how beautiful it was that we were all together. People tell me all the time what America is guilty of. How democracy and capitalism are flawed systems, and how the moral compass of America has fallen short of true north, and they may have good points. I just want to know how that matters to the mother who has lost her son, or the wife who has lost her husband? What will you tell them he died fighting for? What about the son who has lost his mother, or the groom waiting for his bride to return from her tour? Did they give there lives for nothing? Surely there must be something still worth fighting for? I think the greatest cure to the sickness that is entitlement is gratefulness. America has so many people to be grateful for the majority of them remain unsung heroes. I thought about those people too, the ones we won’t read about in the history books or see on our twitter feeds. These men and women are fighting for a country a lot of it’s citizens don’t even believe in anymore. What America stands for is bigger than Washington politics and campaign slogans. It’s bigger than headlines on your favorite newspaper or your favorite political analyst, I’m sorry but your favorite talk radio host is not the savior to our ideals. I believe the hope for the recovery of our nation resides in the outlook of it’s citizens. An outlook that has been corrupted and distorted by media that exploits fears and troubles felt by the American people, all in the name of “news”. Now there was a lot of thinking going on in my head out there on the field that day, so much so that when I looked up I was on the forty yard line with my hand still on my chest. The anthem had been played and the ROTC team had marched off the field, but the flag was still waving. The last thing I remember thinking that day is how much I love America. Nothing is going to change that. No amount of negative headlines or corrupt politicians are going to sway me and my affections for this great nation. I wish we could all just get back to loving where we come from, and understanding that true love keeps no records of wrong doings, and is only interested in rebuilding and restoring. I heart America, always have and I always will.