Sunday, May 3, 2009


Today I was reading a post by my friend Abbie about entitlement.

I love Abbie's thoughts about things of this nature. He's got a brilliant mind, he's a phenomenal musician, and he's a recovering alcoholic. He's got great perspectives. Check out this bit:

I was reading the Daily Reflections today and it was talking about conceptualizing a God of your own understanding to ask for help in keeping you sober. And I've done that and it's worked.

He went on . . .

WHO AM I to think that I'm entitled to direction from God? Has my reaction to my last drunk been a sort of mental survival instinct?

Just now since I've been asking that question I've thought, "Well, do I not have the gift of Life in me simply because I am breathing, reasoning and animated?" I certainly do. Doesn't that come from God? Yes. Does that not qualify me somehow to at least get assistance from The Source that stitched me together? I think so.

Just like if I'm in Chattanooga. I have a key to my mother's house. I can go in and get something out of the fridge and spend the night if I want because I'm entitled. I'm her child.

I don't think it's any more complicated than that with God.

I've been studying and thinking on this a lot as of late, and I love where his head's at.

Here's my latest take:

What we're ENTITLED to is death and condemnation, each and every one. We are crappy, selfish people who only consider others when it's within a small margin of our own comfort. We will someday die, and we are powerless to earn ourselves anything afterwards.

What is bestowed upon us, each and every one, is the belonging of which Abbie speaks, like honorary keys to the King's fridge.

Pretty humbling to be so undeserving. Pretty mind-blowing to be loved anyway.

The part where I got hung up for several years was the whole "god of my understanding" part. I got lost in a world where god was understandable, fallible, limitable. The god I had in my head from my childhood was little and powerless. It was not even big enough to throw my crap and baggage at. So I replaced him with more entertaining things like Rock and Whimsy and Good Times. All beautiful things, but utterly meaningless in and of themselves. So I filled my life with things like Stuff and Busy-ness to drown out the numbness and hurt and yearning. It all got kind of dark for a while, because I had no reason to believe in my dreams or even myself. Entropy ensued and my world was crumbling, stone-by-stone. I got hungry for more. For transcendence. Redemption. Relief. Purpose.

So I started looking.

My girlfriend was fantastic, but couldn't tell me why I exist or fix the world I live in.

Losing her got me depression.

Booze got me jail-time and a headache.

Work was, well, work, even though I was doing pretty much exactly what I wanted to do.

Then Truth started popping up in the most unlikely places: Physics, Eastern Philosophy, Taoist principles, Macrobiotics, banned literature, nature. Call it a series of moments akin to the Bag-Caught-In-The-Swirling-Wind scene in American Beauty. Shouts of clarity and guidance amidst the fog.

Then I started to hear a subtle voice. "Hey, it's me. Bet you didn't expect to find me here. People try to stuff me into pretty tight, ill-fitting spaces these days, but I'm no different than I've ever been. If it's truth, then it's me, wherever it may be found. If it hates or destroys, it simply lacks my input. I've given you the choice: Look for truth and beauty and there's my face. Chase honour and wisdom and you'll learn more about my character. Love and welcome each other, and you're spreading pieces of my gospel, no matter what you call it. I've come that you may have life, and have it to the full."

Whoa. That sounds like some of the stuff Jesus said. How come he's made out to be condemning, boring, and irrelevant?

I'm really thankful for my time in the dark. I'm beginning to see the process differently now. No guilt, no shame, just me as I am, and who I'm becoming as I burn all these lies the world sold me.

So I'm thankful for this constant humbling - this re-posturing within the vastness of creation and truth. It's made me to realize to a greater degree my own smallness within the vastness of a real, limitless God. And it makes His personal nature that much more astounding.

What I'm worrying for at the moment is the unfortunate people all around the world who have no picture of anything resembling real love. Child trafficking, child soldiers, child labor, and a cycle of abuse that turns victims into aggressors. Parents, your children are blessed to have you. Most of my friends, you've got at least some idea of love from someone who's taken care of you. But how do you explain mercy to someone who's never received an ounce of it? How do you show limitless love to people who've been marginalized and beat from the day they were born?

This may be a tangent, but I was really convicted this morning. I just don't think we can afford to be silent. A Derek Webb song says "We join the oppressors of those we choose to ignore." Not me, man. Not anymore. It seems every generation is marred by the atrocities they watched transpire. But we can be different. Bold. We can be voices for the voiceless. It's daunting, but darkness can't cohabitate with light, so start where you are. Be nice in traffic. Give a bum a cheeseburger. Smile at the crabby lady in line with you at the supermarket. We're all the same, all in need. As you let out this love, it'll grow in you, but sometimes you have to act on it to activate it.

Signing off for now,
the lowliest of these