A few years ago I watched this documentary called "Invisible Children". Being a youth pastor and caring so deeply for young people, I think it affected me in deeply profound ways. To watch children, the same age as those I minister to, get kidnapped, raped, killed, and an assortment of brutalities that nobody seems to want to talk about, seemed horrifying and saddening. The only difference between these children and the children in my youth group are that they just happened to be born in a different country. But in their country, they are in fear of getting kidnapped, and here in the suburbs of Denver, the kids are afraid they won't be able to afford a new ipod. The wall that exists between these two worlds is oppressive and large, but not insurmounatble. Scripture is clear that we are to care for the widow and the orphan. To speak for those who cannot speak. To be on the side of those oppressed. There are so many places of oppression, yet this one area has always seemed to pull upon my heart, because it involves so many children. Thousands to be exact, who are taken against their will to perpetrate violence on others. Everything about this war is counter to God's plan for His people. Thus, today, when I got my t-shirts for the next event in April, I was excited. To promote something that I so very strongly care about. To be a part of history. i have always tried to live my life with open hands. I try to live a life, not of striving after things, but of investing in people. I have always tried to live in such a way, that if I were to no longer be here tomorrow, no one could speak of me as a hypocrite or a thief, but that I have always strived to live in pursuit of the heart of God. I hope that in some small way, my support of this amazing cause does that, and will in some way bring about the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.
How do you forget? I've been trying to figure that one out for the past 3 months. I've done everything in my power to move forward, move on, forget, but I still wake up every morning and the first thing that pops into my head is remembering. The whole "keep yourself busy thing" is sort of the motto of my life right now, and it does not change the fact, that though I forget many things, the one thing I try to forget follows me around like a lingering aroma. Today, I even tried running from it. Being my day off, I drove into the mountains, about as far as I could without going so far I wouldn't get back before dark. I plugged in my ipod, and listened to nearly every song on it. I still remembered. As the landscape changed from brown grass to snow drifts, I prayed continually that this would pass by me. That I could be free from this one burden. So oppressive that sometimes I wonder if I am going to stop breathing. So haunting that I wake up each night dreaming of the same things. There may be no greater burden in all the world than that of unrequited love. It seems so innocent, so sweet, but it is also trapping and heart breaking. To know that while you are haunted by thoughts, to know that the one you think of, is far from thinking of you. How does one escape the oppressiveness of that? To love so greatly, at the expense of yourself, your heart, your life, to be rejected completely. To watch someone willfully walk away from that type of love is much more than heartbreaking. I've questioned God so many times, as to why I endure this type of pain, only to take a step back and realize that I am asking one to whom I have inflicted such pain upon. For, though I hate to admit it, I have walked away. I have walked away from the knowledge that I am loved and cared for, and though there was security in that love, the supposed freedom that lurked beyond seemed so much more appealing. When He wanted to hold me and be there for me, I wanted to experience what life was like. When He wanted a commitment from me, I suddenly became confused about what I really wanted from Him. So I shut the door, with one foot left in it, trying to play the game of having all my options opened, and when He said it was all or nothing... there were too many times I chased after the nothing. Though my momentary discomfort is no match for the heart of God, I think I understand more clearly how much it must grieve Him when I turn my back on His love. I think I have caught a glimpse of how He must feel to be misinterpreted, or viewed as a trap that prohibits one from experiencing life. My heart will heal and move forward over time. I will move on and things will be better, but God's love, His love, doesn't move on. He is grounded in forever loving us, forever chasing us, forever pursuing us to His heart. He goes the distance to be with us, a distance that not only broke his heart, but his body as well as he died for us. That, above all else, is true love. Love that pushes on, even at the expense of itself.
It's odd to think that it was only 2 years ago that I attended my first ash wednesday service. The service was beautiful, in a historical episcopal chapel in downtown kansas City. I remember that day clearly, which is amazing considering I don't have the greatest memory. The reason I remember it so clearly is that my faith was reignited with a fury in those moments. As I sat in the pew of this beautiful, old chapel, I began to think about the depth of tradition that these moments had. That the prayers we prayed that morning were prayed by so many people of faith who had come and gone. That the words we spoke and the ceremony we were participating in, was something with such depth and grace that to even write my emotions down would be to take something amazing and water it down a great deal. Tonight I had the opportunity to participate in ash wednesday once again. This time I got to bring some friends along. They had never been to a service before and did not fully understand the depth such a service as well as the accompanying lent season has for us as Christ followers. It was amazing to watch one of my students experiencing the depth of lent for the first time. This great desire to be a part of the grand story that started so long ago. This year I truly am praying that the season will draw my closer to the heart of Christ. For all that I have experienced this year, the trials, the frustrations, I have come out on the other end with this even deeper desire to be all that He is calling me to be, and as I walk this path that so many saints whom I admire and revere have walked before, may I be faithful to be as faithful as they were.