Monday, September 6, 2010
Friday, August 6, 2010
Last week, I moved into a basement suite with a good friend of mine. Last night, I realized that the cheque I had written for the first month’s payment would bounce. Needless to say, last night’s sleep was restless and almost non-existent. Though it seems to be common place for today’s North American to live in debt, this was a new feeling for me and certainly not a good one.
While I tossed and turned, trying to find the proper position for my body and mind to relax again so I could sleep, I realized this was hopeless. I remembered that there was a reason why I had pulled only one all-nighter as a university student. So that Helplessness would not knock on the door of my mind. But this evening, he had found the door and was pounding. I was anxious.
Matthew 18 is the parable of the Unforgiving Debtor. It tells the story of two workers; Fred, who owed $1,000,000 and Bart who owed $10. After Fred realized he would not be able to pay his debt when it was due, he begged for patience from his boss. His boss didn’t just have patience with Fred, but cancelled the debt entirely. Later that day, as he was walking along, whistling to himself, overjoyed at the great news he had just received, Fred bumped into his colleague Bart, who didn’t owe anything to their boss, but owed him $10.
“So when am I going to receive a $10 bill from you?” Fred was cheerful bur direct. “I need it ASAP. In fact, because it was due last week, you now owe me $10.10.”
Bart, surprised at his friend’s jagged comment responded “Come on man, it’s ten bucks, you have hundreds, why are you so concerned about this? I’ll get it to you one way or another, just hold your horses!”
“That’s not an option. My horses are thirsty. You owe me, pay me now! What allowance money do you give your kids?”
“A dollar a week,” Bart replied.
“Not any more. At least not for the next few months. And what about that Big Mac meal back there?”
“Gee Fred, slow down; I’ll have the money by next week! But I need to eat to pay you.”
“That’s Sir Fred to you. I’ll be by your shack tomorrow to collect my first payment.”
While this conversation, which had been rising in volume, continued, the colleagues had stopped walking and a few passers-by were looking on.
One of them commented, “Hey, I know these guys. They work in the cubicles opposite me. They are usually pretty cool people. What’s up with this?” He went immediately to their boss and told the whole story. The boss was none too pleased and had Fred brought in for questioning.
“What’s this I hear about you and Bart? Bart owes you what, pennies, and you owe me what, thousands . . .”
“But I thought it had been forgiven and forgotten!” Fred stammered.
“Not anymore. If what Bart owes you matters to you, than what you owe me matters to me. Your forgiveness has been withdrawn!”
The day before my sleepless night, dad had told me that anxiety was something he experienced regularly, but I rarely had it. Instead of being worried or concerned, he says my character is more like mom’s, who is relaxed almost all the time. But as much as I hope that it would leave for good, anxiety would raise its ugly head periodically because of stupid mistakes like my bounced cheque.
If we want anxiety to flee so it is no longer our default emotion, we must make an active decision to replace it with something else. There are many options; happiness, being encouraging or helpful are just a few. Changing your habits is hard, and changing your emotions is just as difficult.
When does anxiety get the better of you? What would it look like if you practiced another emotion rather than your default emotion? Try it for a few days, and maybe you might want to change your default emotion for good.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
When He wasn’t quite there, the captain sent friends to tell Jesus his thoughts, "Master, don’t put yourself through all this trouble. I'm not that good a person, you know. I’m not worthy to welcome you to my house. I’m not even worthy to come to you in person.
But if you choose to give the order, my servant will get well. I'm a man under orders and I do what I’m told; I also give orders to my servants, and they do what they are told. Whatever you say, and whomever you say it to, they will do what they are told.
Amazed, Jesus addressed the crowd: ‘WOW! I've never seen this kind of simple trust in Israel before!’
When the messengers returned home, they found the servant up and well.”
Lord Jesus, we are not worthy to have you come to where we are, we are not even worthy to come to you and be blessed by your presence, but if you want to, just say the word and your will will happen here.
I used to see this father as somewhat of a push over because he doesn’t rebuke or question him. He could have asked something like, “What do you mean, you want to leave? That isn’t an option! Where would you go? What would you do?” The father doesn’t ask for his son to exercise patience, or embarrass him by singing a Sunday school song like:
Have patience, Have patience, don’t be in such a hurry.
When you get impatient, you only start to worry.
Remember, remember that God is patient too,
And think of all the times when he has had to wait for you!
Instead, the Father’s patience is his strength. His persistence to look for his wayward son everyday would strengthen his love for him. This action only added to the sense of relief and joy he felt when he finally saw him stumbling over the distant hill.
When he finally does come home, the younger brother has probably had the time of his life, and he’s only there because all good things must come to an end. As the older brother angrily argues with his father, “Why are you welcoming this son of yours home? All he’s done is waist your money on hoers, parties and expensive luxuries. He’s made his bed; he deserves to lie in it.” (Luke 15:30) The younger son knows this, and seems to be willing to do just that. However, he wants to do it at home because even the worst job at home is better than what he is currently doing. (15:17)
I see myself as the older son in part because I am an older son. I am also just as self-righteous as Jesus fictional character and I tend to stay around the house more often then my dad would probably like, I am willing to help and get stuff done, and though they joke about me being a rebel, the family would probably think of me as a pretty ‘good boy,’ not getting into trouble, but doing what he was told.
I wish I had a little bit more of the younger son’s mentality, a little bit more of a rebellious spirit. But it only goes as far as drinking a bear (rather than a Coke) with the guys at the Tuesday pub night. I feel like I am found in every sense of the word, I know that “everything that is His is mine,” (Luke 15:31) and sometimes I feel a little bit too comfortable in that fact. Is it possible to be ‘found’ so much that you feel a little bit ‘lost’?
Saturday, February 6, 2010
to worship you, oh my soul rejoice.
Take joy my King in what you hear,
May it be a sweet, sweet sound in your ear.
I love you Lord, and I lift my hands,
to offer you everything I am.
take joy my King in what I do,
May it be a sweet sacrifice unto You.