Monday, June 21, 2010

The Ministry of the Inner Life

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." - 1 Peter 2:9

By what right have we become "a royal priesthood"? It is by the right of the atonement by the Cross of Christ that this has been accomplished. Are we prepared to purposely disregard ourselves and to launch out into the priestly work of prayer? The continual inner-searching we do in an effort to see if we are what we ought to be generates a self-centered, sickly type of Christianity, not the vigorous and simple life of a child of God. Until we get into this right and proper relationship with God, it is simply a case of "hanging on by the skin of our teeth," although we say, "What a wonderful victory I have!" Yet there is nothing at all in that which indicates the miracle of redemption. Launch out in reckless, unrestrained belief that the redemption is complete. Then don't worry anymore about yourself, but begin to do as Jesus Christ said, in essence, "Pray for the friend who comes to you at midnight, pray for the saints of God, and pray for all men." Pray with the realization that you are perfect only in Christ Jesus, not on the basis of this argument: "Oh, Lord, I have done my best; please hear me now."

How long is it going to take God to free us from the unhealthy habit of thinking only about ourselves? We must get to the point of being sick to death of ourselves until there is not longer any surprise at anything God might tell us about ourselves. We cannot reach and understand the depths of our own meagerness. There is only one place where we are right with God, and that is in Christ Jesus. Once we are there, we have to pour out our lives for all we are worth in this ministry of the inner life.

Taken from My Utmost for His Highest: Updated Edition June 21

Friday, June 18, 2010

I'm content

Sometimes I'm overwhelmed by how lucky I am. I am healthy, loved, comfortable, live in a beautiful place, have a great support system, forgiven, and have hope for the future.

What else could you ask for?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

…on freedom

The last election I got really excited about Ron Paul and a lot of the Libertarian ideals, even though he was running under for the Republican nomination. Alas, he lost, but I still voted Libertarian, though I can't remember who the guy was at this point. It was on principle, for freedom. Freedom to do what I want, and freedom from others telling me what to do.

Paradoxically, freedom is not doing what I want. This I know for a fact. Pursuing my plans and desires has trapped me in apprehension and disappointment. There is no peace for those always scheming and planning, figuring out how to get ahead. Pursuing ones happiness is selfish in nature, and will only lead to a series of temporary gratifications and ultimately dissatisfaction.

True freedom is being free from apprehension and worry, having a peace 'that passes understanding'. This only comes from complete surrender of our own desires and plans to God's plan. Surrender = giving up = death to self (and our notion that we know what's better for ourselves that God does) = faith = complete trust in God. While we are taught to plan plan plan, work work work, God tells us to rest in Him. In Him is peace from ourselves and the concern of ensuring our happiness.

The weekend before last I went on a little climbing adventure with Brandon and Grant into the North Cascades. The mountains are super steep. I mean right out of the car, we were on a slog straight up the mountain though an old growth forest, up a talus field covered with a thin layer of snow that may or may not hold you weight, across streams, and finally onto a snowfield before arriving at the cliff-line. It was interesting, we had pretty decent weather most of the way up until we were almost to the snowfield. We sat down for a little snack break and saw a fog creeping around the buttress to our left about a thousand feet down and slowly start to make its way up toward us. We put our packs back on and tried to move a little faster, but knew we had no chance against the advancing cloud while post-holing through thigh deep snow.

Soon enough we were engulfed in this world of bright diffused white. Sky and snow look the same. Depth is lost. Every step is second guessed, and you start walking closer to your friends. We stopped and looked at each other trying in vain to gain some courage the others disposition. It was decided that the time had come for the map and compass to guide our way, so I dug out my compass and opened up the map. Unfortunately, it was not the map, but the camping permit. The map was waiting patiently in the backseat of my car for our return.

I wish I could convey the feeling we all felt at this point. It was something along the lines of "Oh Shit!" and "so…". We talked a few minutes about which direction we thought the mountain was, what we though the valley's orientation was, and where we thought we should be going, and hesitantly decided that we should walk north. That was the plan. Walk. North.

At this point, every step became much more cautious. We knew that we didn't know where we were going, nor what could be in front of us. The lack of visibility left far too many variables to our imagination, every slope was now a possible cliff, every forward movement increasing our 'lostness'. After who knows who long, we got to a point where we knew the snow was sloping down on either side and in front of us, who knows how far or how steep. With frazzled nerves, we desperately tried to see something, anything that could fit into what we thought this was going to look like to give us courage to go on. Nothing. We dug a pit for the tent, and decided to settle in for the night, and trace our steps out in the morning.

Before digging, we tossed up a prayer for safety and visibility. To our left we saw what appeared to be a slope and some sort of dark vertical bands that could pass for the westerly cliffline we needed to hike parallel to. This being the case, the slope to our immediate left dropped off who knows how far and we were wise to have heeded our apprehension and stop hiking. Fifteen minutes later, we had the spot cleared and the tent was going up.

Mountain weather is volatile and unpredictable, so the exception can be the rule more times than not. In our case, however, it could not have been chance. Directly above us, surrounded by swirling gray clouds, a circle of blue sky opened up (the first of the day) and illuminated not only where we were, but where we needed to go. The 'perilous cliff' directly to our left turned out to be a gently five foot slope, and the 'vertical rock band' across the 'valley' was another slope twenty feet away and a fifty feet high. Turns out we were miraculously close to the chute needed to gain the last ridge, and in danger of nothing but our own imaginations.

That's what perspective does. When we look at life as something to be wrestled to the ground and willed into submission, we are met with worry, apprehension, guilt, dissatisfaction from things not going our way, and failure. Freedom is what Christ offers. He has the perspective we lack. What seems an impassable obstacle to us is really a gentle five foot slope, we just can't see beyond through the fog. We don't have to understand the peace offered or the direction headed, we just have to have faith that He is taking us where we need to go. Only in giving up on ourselves and clinging to Him can we truly be free.