Monday, August 19, 2013

I Have a Dream!

A good friend of mine had a crazy dream a few nights ago.  She swears it was more real than a dream - but what she witnessed would be impossible if it wasn’t a dream.  It was definitely of the spiritual nature:  evil trying to get her - and remembering Jesus - crying out to Him - then peace.  It made me think of dreams.

I’ve only had one or two dreams that seem to have a “message” behind them.  Most dreams are just crazy visions.  But, the one I remember vividly was one I had on a backpacking trip.  It was my first five day backpacking trip, and I forgot a pillow.  I sleep on my side, so this was a huge issue.  I literally got no sleep for two days.  I’d get 20 minutes here, 20 minutes there, but nothing longer.  It was awful.  Finally, on the third night I passed out.

Here’s the dream.  I was on a long road in an African country.  I was sitting in the Pope mobile.  If you don’t know what that is - it’s a car that Pope’s rides in so he can wave to people as he drives by.  The glass is bullet proof and it’s a well armored car - and, you can stand up in it.  So, I’m sitting in the Pope mobile on a stool and there’s thousands of starving people reaching to get inside to where I’m sitting.  I’m holding a huge metal bowl (like a popcorn bowl) and it’s full of spaghetti (which happens to be my favorite food).  And I can’t stop eating in front of everyone.  As hard as I try, I keep shoving food down my face as starving people are banging the windows of the Pope mobile.  And tears are flooding down my cheeks because I can’t stop, even though I want to.  I want to give it away - this food in my hands - but I keep chowing down instead.  I look at dying people as we drive by - and I keep eating.  Then I woke up - in the middle of the forest.  haha.  Crazy.

Dreams are dreams, but this one had an element of reality - and it’s stayed with me ever since. 
I’ve been in this waiting period for a while now.  I don’t usually pray for specific things because I kind of think that’s a "genie in a bottle" type of view of God - which isn’t like Jesus at all.  But - I have been a bit restless.  So, I prayed one of “those” prayers.   I’m starting Young Life again, and have been back and forth on whether I want to coach football again.  Well, I know that I don’t really want to coach - haha - but, I also know coaching is a great tool as a leader for Young Life.  So, I prayed about it.  I did one of those timing prayers.  “If You want me to coach - give me a sign in the next week.  A specific sign.”  I never really believe these type of prayers work - but - God is active and listening.  I do believe that.  And - as I’ve said, I’m a bit restless.  So, I asked.  

It’s funny, I usually advise people not to pray in this manner.  I think it’s kind of a manipulation of the type of relationship God really wants - which is spending time with Him - even just noticing Him.  It’s not that I don’t think that God answers prayers like this, it’s that often these types of prayers come from a very selfish point of view.  God is always pushing us to value others above ourselves.  These types of prayers often put self above others.  But, I guess, when you’re clueless about your future, there’s nobody better to turn towards.

Last night - randomly - I got this message from an old football player that I coached.  He never went to Young Life, never went on any trips, nothing.  But - I did spend a lot of time with him at practice.  I literally hadn’t talked to him in years.  The timing of this message is crazy.  Here’s his note:

“I don't know if you remember me, I was the freshman in 2009 with a big blonde fro, often referred to as Big Bird, who became a starting right tackle his first year learning to play football. Either way, I just wanted to thank for you every day you were able to coach me my freshman year. I was going through a really tough time and without your humor, respect, and encouragement to aim high and see my potential, I might not have been able to finish the season. I didn't continue to play, but I never lost my dedication in whatever I did throughout high school, and now I'm going to UCLA (I applied for Neuroscience). After I finished the season I felt capable of anything high school had throw at me, and I couldn't have done it without you.”

Coincidence?  I sure want it to be - haha!

I find that I want to keep chowing on my spaghetti.  Sometimes I don’t want to follow God’s call because it’s uncomfortable, scary, new, and disruptive.  But.  I also admit that don’t know what’s best for me at all.  I’m clueless - but I know the One who isn’t.  So, I’m gonna step out.  Reluctantly.  haha.  And with a twinge of excitement as well.  

Do I trust that He is good - and do I trust Him with my life?  I want to.  haha.   jeez.

Ok - let’s see where He’s leading...

Have a great day!


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Writing in Protest

When I was a kid, I read a lot of books.  It wasn’t the cool thing to do, but I didn’t tell anyone about it.  I hid this aspect of my personality in order to fit in, but secretly at home (especially on stormy nights) I’d curl up on the couch or on my bed and read stories that took me away from my real life.  There were times when my imagination led me to impossible places with such amazing adventures, I'd literally not be able to put the book down until it was the next morning - on a school night.  But I did it anyway - and loved it!  Most stories made my real life pale in comparison.  And sometimes, my memory of the stories became as vivid as my actual memories of life.  It’s definitely weird how our minds work.  

I got this reading trait from my mom.  She would often read an entire book in one sitting - it was crazy.  It was almost like she had a super power: fast reading.  I never got close to as fast as her, but I did learn to read at a pretty good pace.  I would read a book, or so, a week.  I remember, by the end of my Senior year in High School, I had read nearly every single book in the Fantasy section of the bookstore.  I later moved to mystery - and then faith - but never stopped reading.  I’m so thankful for this trait!

When I was in Jr. High, my reading ability put me in the classes with the smart kids.  As sad as it is when I look back on it now - I was ashamed to be put into that group.  I don’t know where I got the idea that being smart is uncool, but at that fragile self-esteem building age, it totally was - well - at least for guys - it was.  I developed some really negative habits at that age because of how I saw the world.  One annoying trait was caring too much what others thought about me.  That, in itself, could be a whole topic, but I want to focus on something else.  There was another habit that formed that I still wrestle against today - and this fight - this continual battle - has always ended up hurting me in the long run.

I began to rebel against authority.  I mean, the rebellion has always been there - don’t get me wrong.  But, when it came to homework and being told what to do (I’m strictly talking about things that were actually beneficial to me) - I flat out rebelled.

College was easy.  Yet - it took forever for me to graduate.  I rebelled against the idea that society demanded a piece of paper (a certificate of completion - diploma) to get ahead in life.  I had a hard time seeing the point.  But "the point" didn't really matter - it just held me back when I should have excelled.  

Now I wish I could slap my younger self upside the head.  

Often, my attitude is the gun I use to shoot myself in the foot.
When I was in High School, teachers would assign books to read.  Many of the books were a quarter of the length of the books that I read everyday.  But, I wouldn’t read them.  It’s one thing to not read when you don’t like to read - but I loved reading!  Yet - when assigned a book - I wouldn’t read it.  Tell me to do something - I’ll end up doing the opposite.  Half the time, I don’t even know why.  It’s like it’s my natural reaction to authority.  This has caused confusion and frustration in many of my relationships - for sure.  

Lately, I’ve been writing a lot - but only for school.  Every day, there’s a wrestling match that goes on inside my head about completing my assignments.  I’ve gotten perfect marks (grades) on almost every assignment I’ve done at this school.  Perfect.  My only exception?  When I turn in my work late.  

I’ve taken seven classes so far.  Two A’s, four A-’s, and one B+.  The ONLY reason I got the A-’s and the B+ was late work.  I should be getting straight A's (A- are less than 4.0 at this college)  I turn my work in late because I’m in the midst of a mental wrestling match:  complete the assignment vs. I don’t want to/what’s the point?  Here’s the kicker - even on my late work, I’ve gotten perfect scores.  But - it gets docked because it’s late.  haha.  wow.  I’m my own worst enemy.

This might not seem like a big deal.  Those are good marks, for sure.  BUT - this has always been my pattern.  It was the same in High School and my undergraduate studies.  It’s the same today.  I fight authority.

I’ve been thinking about why I haven’t been writing lately - as far as this blog goes.  It’s often because I’m in this mental wrestling match about doing my homework and don’t even want to think about writing.  I only have 4 more classes - then I’m done.  Yet - this class I’m taking right now - wow.  My gun is pointed at my foot and the trigger is cocked.  haha. 

Rebelling against authority - it’s what got us into this mess in the first place.  God constantly wants what’s best for us - what’s beneficial - but we eat the fruit instead.  For me - many times it’s not the desire of X, Y, or Z that drives me away from God - it’s more that I want to be King.  I want to make my own decisions.  I want to be my own authority.  It’s how I’m wired - and it hurts me every time.  I even see the pattern, understand it - yet I still keep wrestling.

Jesus (King of kings and Lord of lords) was known as humble because He surrendered to the will of His Father - all the way to the cross.  “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross!” (Phil 2:8)  He was obedient in the little things as well as the big things.  He submitted to authority - even the authority of the government and the faith community when they were wrong! - because - ultimately - He knew that God was in control in the midst of it all.  He trusted God and because of His faith - we reap the benefit.  

But - in spite of His goodness - His finished work - I still do my homework in protest.   Haha.  Seems trivial in comparison to God's work.  But - the truth is - the little things really are the big things...    

I do, however, find hope for people like me in this parable:

28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’  29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.  30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.  31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”  “The first,” they answered.  (Matthew 21:28-31)

Alright - enough delay - off to do my homework - my late homework.  grrrrr.
Have a great day!