One of the craziest things from high school that I remember was how heavy my backpack was. I know, very small detail to highlight, but it was the worst. Yeah, we had lockers, but when it came time for homework and studying, you needed all those hefty textbooks. Random musing, I know, but sometimes I feel like I can walk around like I’m carrying a weight on my back. If you ever had a heavy backpack or had to carry something heavy for an extended period of time, you know how hard it can become as time goes on. I want to take a look at something simple today, a basic truth about a relationship with God. Our God has died for us, we are bought and paid for by the blood of the lamb. So why do we continue to walk around with burdens on our backs? It’s time to take off our burdens and remember that we don’t have to earn our way to a relationship with out creator.
Life is a wild thing. I look at life like a story being unfolded one chapter at a time. I don’t know what the end will look like, or the people and experiences that will happen along the way; it is a beautiful mystery that keeps me pressing forward. I’m a storyteller at heart, it’s something I’m so passionate about. That’s why I love comics, books, movies, and an assortment of other creative outlets. It’s especially why I love the bible. It’s a book of stories that help us learn and grow. You can have a bunch of information, but unless you can capture that into a story, it will be hard to convince someone to follow you. I get funny looks when I tell people that apologetics are for people who are already believers, because I think your personal story blows away any questions of if your relationship with God is real. I love life because new chapters happen all the time and bless us with new opportunities to step into what God has for us.
At the time of writing this, Avengers: Infinity War, is only a few days away. I’ve been waiting years for this. Literal years. I love comics, and when Iron-Man first came out, my dad and I stayed after the credits and saw a glimpse of Nick Fury talking to Tony Stark about a little team he was putting together. Then, years after that, Marvel’s Avengers premiered, with another scene after the credits showing a smiley purple guy. I left the theater stunned, Thanos was coming. Being a comic kid, I knew the mad titan, a really bad dude who leaves a wake of destruction in his path. A big purple alien from the moon of titan, bent on taking over the galaxy and harnessing the power within it. Then he gets even more power with infinity gems, and all hope seems lost. The avengers have to band together to stop an unstoppable force. I can’t wait to see this in film form, but this mad titan reminds me of some of the same struggles we face in our own lives. Do you ever feel like whenever you are moving forward, something always seems to go wrong? Something begins to tempt you, a person in your life says words that hurt your soul, you fight those thoughts of self-doubt and loathing in your mind; it can seem almost impossible to survive. These are cases of what we call “spiritual attack.” This can be worse than a physical attack, often crippling us, but the fact is, when we remember our savior we find new hope. The mad titan is nothing compared to the love of God.
I’ve recently been reading through Hebrews. This is an interesting and powerful book to look at, especially where my life is at currently. There’s a ton of unknowns and struggles that I have to face, it can be hard to trust God in the midst of a storm. In Christian culture, it can feel wrong to question what’s going on in our lives, we have this idea that we can never wrestle with our circumstances. That we can’t cry out to God asking him where he is or why he isn’t acting in this situation. Like it’s some sin to struggle. I’ve heard of some Christians looking down on others because they aren’t having enough faith in this situation. Enough faith? We’re supposed to support one another, not look down because we think we’re better than other believers. Jesus wouldn’t want us to pride ourselves on putting our fellow believers down when they were struggling, he would want us to support and love. Why is this even a thought that we have in the first place though? I’ve been feeling down on myself based on this misconception, am I not a “good” Christian because I ask God why he’s doing what he’s doing? The truth is, this is a lie. Hebrews chapter 11 justifies this because it shows people who lived by faith. They were recorded for their great faith, but every single one of them wrestled with God.
“One person could be overpowered. But two people can stand up for themselves. And a rope made out of three cords isn’t easily broken.”
I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea of unity and community. As people, we are intrinsically tied to others. We have a craving for human interaction and seek it out in different avenues. Even for introverts like myself, it’s great to have alone time, but having coffee with a friend is so life giving. We need each other, we crave being connected to others around us, but something is wrong. We begin to fight two struggles, we lack community and unity. We push people away because we’re afraid of them hurting us or us hurting them. We live in a world where people are divided based on perpetrated stereotypes of race. We believe we are better than others or think others are better than us. We are in a fight. We are in a fight for our connection to others, and we fight it because we have an enemy that doesn’t want us to live in freedom.
It’s here! Christmas time is among us (Though for many of you it began as soon as your Jack-o-lantern went out). I really love this season, not simply for all the cold air and the smell of cinnamon that seemingly is everywhere (how does that even happen?). I love it because it’s a season of caring, at least for me it always has been. Christmas has never been a specific day for me. My family was in Wisconsin so we would celebrate several Christmas days, but what I learned is that Christmas is so much more than the day (or about a creepy man who reverse robs you), it was about giving back. Reaching out and being intentional with others. I really love giving gifts, not big expensive and crazy things, simply things that are meaningful. Last year though, my mom executed this perfectly. She gave my dad, sister, my brother-in-law, Danielle, and myself gifts that really spoke to me. They weren’t insane or wild, simply intentional gifts that poured into us. That got me thinking about this Christmas season, and what I want to do this month. I want to talk about intentionality. I want to talk about being purposeful with the people around us, because we are called to love our neighbors.
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
One of my favorite things at my home church is when we get to have baptism Sunday. Baptism is a public declaration of the choice to follow Christ in your life. It’s an incredible picture of our walk with Christ, dying to self and laying down your life for a bigger purpose. I absolutely love the Sunday’s where this happens, because you get to hear the stories from the lives of people all around us in the church. This last week where we had baptism was one of the best days, because I was given the opportunity to baptize my little brother. Now he isn’t my brother by blood, but the brother of one of my best friends. I’ve known since he was in third grade, and in the past year have been able to hang out and mentor Jack. Then a few weeks ago he asked me if I would baptize him, he told me that he a had made a commitment to Christ, but it was time to make it known. That’s the cool thing about baptism, it shows that we aren’t turning back. Even when life gets hard, we have this moment in time where we make it public with our intentions, and we have fellow believers help us in the hard times.