About two months ago, I presented a prayer of thanksgiving for the Bacculaurate service on my graduation day. Without the intention of being humorous, I have said, “For some of us, we (the graduating class of 2014) have the gift of moving back in with our parents…,” which I think represent somewhat of a financial haven. In retrospect, I can see the humor, but in reality I was quite sober. These past two months, I’ve gotten a taste of the “real world,” I like it to call it “post-undergrad life,” and it is shockingly frustrating.
Life is too damn expensive. That’s what I’ve been realizing over and over, again and again. I’ll admit I’ve been quite uninformed concerning the “hidden and unadvertised costs” of life. Ignorance is bliss to a certain extent. If there are pertinent knowledge of future cost and/or benefit, then ignorance is that cataclysmic Trojan Horse. Perhaps in this case it is more accurate to say that ignorance is the quiet, “female-dog” sister of bliss.
And strangely, I’ve been having cyncial optimism concerning God’s provision. It might be easier to repeat “God will provide,” but my broken humanisitic hopes could easily warp how God should provide, therefore, it could be more accurate to say, “The God I envision will provide in the way I hope.” Of course God will provide; all provisions are from him. But I absolutely refuse to formulate the details of his provision. Who knows, I might go bankrupt, job-less, homeless, etc. Just because I trust in God does not mean I am impervious to financial crisis, societal injustice, psychological shock, etc. What I think trusting in God means is to be stubbornly confident that God loves me, however that looks like.
With only two months out into this season of my life, which I like to call it “post-undergrad life,” I am once again being taught “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so…” And that is bliss.
An interesting “would you rather…or” question I’ve been asking has been: “would you rather be an orator that seizes the immediate attention of an audience but dyslexic or a prolific writer that captivates any eye of a reader but with speech impediment (stuttering, stage freight, mute, etc.).
I would rather be a prolific writer.
Probably because I like public speaking, it’s nerve-racking, but it’s also exciting.
But it’s most likely because I know I am not a captivating writer. I’m not. I’m really not. And that sucks.
“Now that we had our vitamin-c for the evening (we just had deliciously glazed cake).
Can you tell I am NOT a professor of Applied Health Science?”—// Dr. Adam Miglio | ARCH 418: Akkadian | 03.31.14 | 7:47 pm
“God, you know how much I have been struggling and doubting myself about being a professor. It’s a daunting dream, one I probably should not put too much hope in. But, God…I pray: may I love the people you entrust under my responsibility with a love that desires to see them flourish in your presence.”—for more context: http://sooholee.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/inspiration-dr-john-h-walton-03-27-14/
but hidden behind that thanks lies a deep-seated insecurity that never fails to remind me that i’m really not smart.
this insecurity is rooted in my fear that i might never be what i love: professor and/or pastor. sometimes it’s easier to say you are afraid and “learn” how to handle the possibility of disappointment early on than have the courage to persevere.
In the Ancient Near East, to live “forever” was accomplished through memory. To remember someone or something someone has done was to keep them alive, in a sense. Perhaps, this is what Yahweh meant when he commanded through Moses to the Israelites to remember what he has done for them.
Perpetuating past memories of divine providence into present reality accrues a vibrant relationship with the Divine. In other words, to remember is to love.
nope. not going to say it. i refuse. no commitments this time.
it’s spring break with extra time floating around. been thinking a bit more than usual, perhaps it’s because the campus is empty and there are less people to run into and have small talk. as great as these small talks are, they ruin a steady stream of consciousness. so, without these delightful interruptions today, i had some time to think.
i’ve changed. i’ve changed a lot. i can’t even remember how freshmen-year-sooho was like. i can’t believe it’s almost the end.
One of the Triad Confessional Statements concerning God’s Presence in one’s daily life is the hardest to find genuine: “I believe God is with me.”
In reality, the most popular statement concerning a believer’s perception of God’s presence in his or her life is an intermingling of the first two statements: “I don’t feel like God’s with me, but I know it.”
Now, keep this in mind as you read on ahead: I ain’t no pastor. I ain’t no professional theologian. I ain’t that wise. I ain’t that old. I’m just a regular 21 year old who loves to have conversations with other believers concerning their relationship with God and found this issue bothersome to me and others.
It’s absolutely heart-breaking to hear someone say those words written above (“I don’t feel like God’s with me, but I know it”). This is a complicated issue since some equate feeling and emotional assurance as true belief, whereas others equate it to knowing and rational assurance. While I do believe belief needs both (“feeling” expressed as profound and confounding peace and “knowing” as inexpressible confidence), it’s a tricky balance to find; something that would take a life-time to develop due to human’s changeable nature and the innumerable challenging and differing situations each goes through. New situations demands each believer to wrestle through this question: Where is God? Therefore, there is no such thing as a one time confession, but rather a daily and continual confession.
After a handful of deep talks with myself and others, I tend to land on this disturbing position: Is my feeling, knowing, and/or belief in God’s presence in my life dependent on me or on God? In other words, do I determine whether or not God is near me? I can’t help but see that sometimes when we say, “I don’t feel like God’s with me” it’s not that we have searched long and hard and was disappointed with the results, but rather we have closed our eyes, plugged our ears, and babbled lies to further cancel any noise except our own voice.
Furthermore, saying “…but I know it” tends to place empty faith on rationale with empty words. Is there any integrity between what you are confessing and what you know? Unless you have a different definition of “knowing.” “Knowing” is wholly engaging all human activity with truth; not just the brain. For example, an adult driving a car comes to a complete stop (hopefully) in front of a “Stop” sign and allows a car on the opposite side to take a left turn because she was there before him. The adult knows fully the proper rules of driving through Driver’s Ed. If he was to compartmentalize knowing to just abstract brain activity, then his foot would never have let go of the gas pedal to switch to the brakes.
How much of our feeling and/or knowing based statements are dependent on us or on God? Therefore, I would like to opt for the last and the most arduous statement: “I believe God is with me.” Again, it’s easy to confuse belief too much with either feeling or knowing. There needs to be a paradoxical balance between the two with God as the foundation. There is only one reason why we can believe God is near: God is near. It’s not fully because we feel God is near. Nor is it fully because we know God is near. We can only believe God is near because God is actually near.
Yet, how do we hold this claim? Trust. Trusting in God is wholly submitting all feelings and rationale to God. It is from this posture we began to truly feel and know. We feel not what we want to feel, but what we need to feel. Feelings of loneliness, abandonment, betrayal is inevitable. Same with doubt, confusion. But the solution is not receiving joy nor knowledge first. The solution is wholly dependent on God. What is require is wholly surrendering and trusting to and in God. Then comes profound peace. Then comes profound confidence. Peace from God. Confidence in God.
In this light, remember God’s grace and faithfulness is much more effective than perpetually wallowing in fear and doubt. He is calling you, he is reminding you, he is speaking to you, he is with you.
“Our theology needs to apply a total Christology to our understanding of power and privilege. Jesus’ life is a reflection of both suffering and celebration. His life reflects one that yielded power for the sake of embracing suffering on the cross. This suffering, in turn, leads to a place of celebration in the resurrection. In contrast to how American society or even the evangelical church views power, we need to embrace a powerlessness that is evidenced in the life of Jesus. A proper Christology demands that we intersect the theology of the cross with the theology of the resurrection. Celebration and suffering are found together in the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.”—
// Soong-Chan Rah, “The Next Evangelicalism,” 153.
furthermore, not to twist and turn Dr. Soong-Chan Rah’s eloquent words, but to enhance them with little bit of context, both theology of suffering and celebration are properly executed in diversed communal setting.
wallowing in despair, because the future looks dim and dark. finances were always a root of fear.
i refuse to claim jeremiah 29:11 as an entitlement, a sense of a “right” because i’m God’s child.
i want to wrestle with the possibly of the worst and find that God will still be there and be confident of that. rather than blindly hoping for the best and passively live naively.
oh lord, my lord. oh Yahweh, my Yahweh. assure me of your presence. if you do not go before me, if you do not go with me, then do not send me. do not commission me. do not command me, unless you come with me. because there is no hope, if you do not go with me.
and i beg of your presence. i do not claim it as a right, but as a confession of my utter weakness. if i do not have you, i am nothing.
“Surely, I am not insane! Surely not! Until I share my thoughts to others, then I see my insanity. Yet, in consolidation, you realize that you are both sane and insane. That carefully measured balance makes you you.”—
“Besides kitchens, bakery, hospital, and shop — what we called out ‘utilities’ — there were many other forms of work necessary for our common life. There was the leisurely, comradely, but otherwise unappealing task of keeping the three men’s latrines clean. The two-man crew in charge of the one near our dorm consisted of a middle-aged American missionary and a retired British banker. The casual naturalness with which they went about their job showed the radical changes camp life had wrought in attitudes. Instead of being horrified at their work, these men made the most of its friendly, social possibilities. They laughed and joked with each client — and everyone was their client!”—
A little excerpt from “Shantung Compound” by Langdon Gilkey.
"Now, my daughter, you may sleep when you wish," said the Hermit. "For your wounds are washed and dressed and though they smart they are no more serious than if they had been the cuts of a whip. It must have been a very strange lion; for instead of catching you out of the saddle and getting his teeth into you, he has only drawn his claws across your back. Ten scratches: sore, but not deep or dangerous."
"I say!" said Aravis. "I have had luck.”
"Daughter," said the Hermit, "I have no lived a hundred and nine winters in this world and have never yet met any such thing as Luck. There is something about all this that I do not understand: but if ever we need to know it, you may be sure that we shall."
“And grace is the great gift. So to be forgiven is only half the gift. The other half is that we also can forgive, restore, and liberate, and therefore we can feel the will of God enacted through us, which is the great restoration of ourselves to ourselves.”—Gilead, 161.
“I tell them there are certain attributes our faith assigns to God: omniscience, omnipotence, justice, and grace. We human beings have such a slight acquaintance with power and knowledge, so little conception of justice, and so slight a capacity for grace, that the workings of these great attributes together is a mystery we cannot hope to penetrate.”—Gilead, 150.
“Boughton says he has more ideas about heaven every day. He said, “Mainly I just think about the splendors of the world and multiply by two. I’d multiply by ten or twelve if I had the energy. But two is much more than sufficient for my purposes.” So he’s just sitting there multiplying the feel of the wind by two, multiplying the smell of the grass by two…”—Gilead, 147.
mysteriously, it is different to say “Yahweh, you have provided” than “Yahweh, you have graciously provided.” The latter moves to the brink of tears and warms my heart. The word “grace” or any variation of it stirs my memory of who Yahweh is; like none other.
“Sometimes, out of nowhere, I get a strong urge to write a blog that is yet to be defined and specified. I open up my tumblog, hoping inspiration will hit like a brick wall, a nice and pleasant one that is, but alas, more often than not, it does not come. I then sadly close the window, perhaps a different time, I tell myself.”—