Looking Back: One Thing Remains

Looking Back is a series of posts that reflect on my first semester of college.

Whether it’s down the street or 869 miles down I-35, transition is tough. Looking back, I realize why people say the first semester is the toughest. It’s in between.  It’s uncomfortable and insecure. And every day that you’re in this flux, a choice is made. Am I going to take my insecurities and my homesickness to God or am I going to get back into the life boat?

The life boat is a metaphor Donald Miller uses to describe the human condition. The premise is this: it is our natural instinct for humans to obsessively compare ourselves to each other. It’s as if we are in a sinking life boat and we all are desperately trying to plead our case for why we are better than the next guy. We try to plead our case for why we belong and why we matter but stacking ourselves up against the person next to us.

I wrote this in my journal during a vulnerable moment this semester

8/17/12

I feel like I’m back in the lifeboat. I find myself comparing myself to others, feeling like I don’t have what it takes, and caring too much about what people think of me…I just want to love others and know that Christ is sufficient for me.

Christ is sufficient for me. That’s why the song in the video above was my anthem for the semester. That’s why I wept yesterday when we sang it in church. His love never fails. Comparing myself to the guy next to me, finding my worth in what Billy or Suzy or Professor X or Y thinks of me, that fails. Resting in God’s love, knowing that it never fails or never gives up or never runs out on me, that’s what I want to choose to do every day.

On the eve of Christmas, it should be easier. It should be easier to stay off the lifeboat. Every carol, every gift you give or receive, it serves as a reminder of the person of Jesus Christ:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!  Philippians 2:6-8

Christmas is when we celebrate the beginning of the best love story of all time. Join me in worshipping the very image of love, Jesus Christ, as we celebrate His birth. Let us be so enamored by His crazy love that we don’t need the lifeboat anymore.

Learning to Rest

I was reading Donald Miller’s book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, a couple days ago. The chapter was about how we all want to have this role in God’s big cosmic story. A huge part of life is finding our constantly evolving role in that story. Inside that role is purpose and direction.

In Ames and Waco, I know my role and I like my role. It’s challenging and stimulating and enjoyable. I wake up every morning excited about it. I set an alarm so I have more time to live it. I’ve got a planner that I use to organize it. I stay up late and journal so I can process it.

Vacation is a break from that role, though. By definition, it is a scheduled period during which activity is suspended. The usual activities, responsibilities, and obligations of my role aren’t here in Mexico with me. I’m constantly fighting the urge that I should be doing something, that I’m not fulfilling me role down here.

God is teaching me how to rest. He’s teaching me to lie down in green pastures. He’s giving me time to look over my story with him. My storyline is covered in red ink right now, things that need to change, tweaks to my character, improvements to my role. Whether we realize it or not, sometimes we just need to rest. Rest in the words of this Psalm that you can’t read enough.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. Thou dost prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; Thou hast anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23

God is the writer of our stories.  And He writes times of rest into them. Those times are for enjoying His presence, resting in the quiet of His love and His truth. In that quiet, we can hear His voice as we wait for instructions on where He’s taking us next.

We live in a world where bad stories are told, stories that teach us life doesn’t mean anything and that humanity has no great purpose. It’s a good calling, then, to speak a better story. How brightly a better story shines. How easily the world looks to it in wonder. How grateful we are to hear these stories, and how happy it makes us to repeat them. – Donald Miller