Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Update: Because I don't have time to sort through old blog posts.

I'm not a libertarian anymore. Actually, I'm a lot more liberal (okay, moderate) than I used to be. I guess I'm quite the relativist when it comes to government, economics, culture, etc. I realize the need to discern what is important to a culture and to let them seek that. Sometimes (as I'm finding in Britain) people are willing and even, perhaps, eager to pay high taxes so everyone has access to a good health care system. (Yes, actually it is a very good health system. Don't listen to the conservatives who will tell you that nationalized health care will without exception go down the crapper.)

Anyway, there's a lot to say about my new/evolving economic/political views. But forgive me for my semi-dogmatic previous posts regarding politics. (Dogmatism is so hard to avoid. But I try.) I suppose future blog activity will indicate where I stand these days. Hm. Wait and see.

Monday, January 25, 2010

"This heart that you have stolen and left here broken."

God brought me back to this place again, a place of acceptance and concession to my own finitude. Perhaps I'll elaborate in the future, but for now, this quote from Lewis is my witness:

I am a safety-first creature. Of all arguments against love none makes so strong an appeal to my nature as “Careful! This might lead you to suffering.”

To my nature, my temperament, yes. Not to my conscience. When I respond to that appeal I seem myself to be a thousand miles away from Christ. If I am sure of anything I am sure that His teaching was never meant to confirm my congenital preference for safe investments and limited liabilities. I doubt whether there is anything in me that pleases Him less. And who could conceivably begin to love God on such a prudential ground—because the security (so to speak) is better? Who could even include it among the grounds for loving? Would you choose a wife or a friend—if it comes to that, would you choose a dog—in this spirit? One must be outside of the world of love, of all loves, before one thus calculates. Eros, lawless Eros, preferring the Beloved to happiness, is more like Love Himself than this.

Christ did not teach and suffer that we might become, even in the natural loves, more careful of our own happiness. If a man is not uncalculating towards the earthly loves whom he has seen, he is none the more likely to be so towards God whom he has not. We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armor. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Here is the Promise and the Threat:

That within life,
this precious thing wrought
by a God of light,
though He already fought
and conquered the dark
which sought
to strip us of the Good,

I still find
that in the giving up
and committing to bind
all desires to His cross,
fear still plagues my mind
for I cannot see His hand.

Trust hurts
for we cannot know how He,
who Himself did submit
to the greatest pain that ever could be,
might call us to a fate
the glory of which we cannot see.

For He
who did not grasp
for the glory that would be,
made Himself last,
gave all to a plan
no man could see.

And now, what will He require?
to strip me
of all I have and desire
and think that I need,
to use me for His glory
the sacrifice so necessary
to refine this life
so He
may use me
to bring glory
to the Name of the Father.

And in the end every knee
will bow and everything lost
will by His Name be freed
to praise the one
who by great mercy
accepted the filth that was my only
offering to a God so Holy,
but through the offering
given by the servant king
was set free
to be given up again.

And in the shadow of that tree
I live, set free
to bring glory
and to know my Great and Endless Need
is the only one who will satisfy me.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Oh, what a difference a month makes.

It has been a while, I guess. I've been neglectful. And yet, so much has happened, I can hardly express it all in blog posts.

First, I experienced Urbana '09 at the end of December. It wasn't shocking or revelatory or especially controversial... In fact, I thought it was beautifully biblical and in every way challenging. All in all, I felt a strong confirmation that I'll never be satisfied doing anything but missions. Now, that's not remarkable in any way--"missions" is pretty broad. But I do feel quite confident that I will spend my life doing some kind of work overseas, hopefully involving economic development and definitely focused on being part of people's lives. That's what I want to do, that's what I feel called to do.

Second, Libby and I made it to England on our own and managed to get around London and now Oxford with ease. It's fun to feel capable of navigating a new country on my own, but even more than that, it's marvelous to feel at home here. I can't attribute that sense of home to any great international sense that I have, but only to God's grace and the generosity of our host family here in Oxford.

Which brings me to the third element-- the people we've been spending time with here in England are a Godsend and a blessing. Steve and Jenny Hellyer are our dad and mom for the month and they are such examples of humble servants yearning for Christ. They radiate love wherever they go.

And I can't forget to mention the other lovely people from Taylor who are here with me: Dr. Ricke is fabulous and hilarious and I enjoy interacting with him and learning from him. Lib is the best J-term roommate ever and we get along as well as an old married couple. Caleb is easily one of my favorite people in existence (and that's even besides teaching us how to play Canasta). New lovely friend in my life is Kirsten Rose Wilhelm: bright, beautiful, and with a heart that's sold out for Christ. And my tutor, Diego, is gracious and patient with me and I'm learning so much.

Things haven't been all rosy, though. In fact, a lot of thing have been more challenging than ever--I've been facing obstacles and bearing burdens that I've never experienced before. All of that deserves a few posts all to themselves, really. But there's this amazingly difficult thing called trust (much like the faith that I can't rationalize) that hurts a lot of the time and always feels uncomfortable...and I've wrestled that beast with complete desperation at times in recent days. And even when I've submitted, it has felt like Jacob's hip being put out of joint as he wrestled the angel at Bethel.

Oh, God has been so present lately, even though I've often felt blind and far from Him. I'm sometimes afraid of what may come because I know it won't be anything easy. He doesn't ask for the simple things that are easy to sacrifice. No, He requires amputations sometimes. But I know good things will come, things that will give Him glory. And that is the purpose and joy of my being so I will choose to seek it.