Getting all discouraged about being discouraged

Genesis 50:20

Perhaps you know this verse by heart just from seeing the reference, or perhaps the image helped jog your memory, because it is one of those verses we use very often to illustrate the necessity and fruitfulness of faith in our God despite dismal circumstances, and is a reminder of the existence of purpose somehow behind seemingly meaningless suffering.

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

Joseph’s words, “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” don’t often get quoted with the pointer that there was a time of probably 24 odd years between his being sold into slavery by his brothers and his saying these profound words. Time is a great teacher and counsellor, and I’m sure it took Joseph a while to ‘get it’. Hence, in regards to trusting in God for redeeming our messes, the lesson is this…

Don’t be discouraged about getting discouraged.

It will take time and then more time and then some for us to see some of the good God intends and ordains. I don’t think this means we have to repress hurt, and then smile and laugh for the sake of showing joy. Rather, it seems appropriate to me that God is pleased when we are faced with gut-wrenching, forehead-holding, tear-jerking situations, sob the sobs and still maintain that God Himself is sovereign and good. Being discouraged is not good, but God’s grace covers that just like it covers everything else, like the mistakes you make along the way. In any case it could take anywhere from a few days to twenty-four years to see how God meant it for good. I’m betting that discouragement will recur between now and then. His grace covers us even as we use what seems like our last reserves of energy to live zealously, proclaiming God’s perfect kingdom still to come.

[Note: Click the image above for a further interesting blog post on the Joseph situation that I read re: prayer. The rest of the blog is good too.]

 

jeal·ous [jel-uhs]

Everything is God’s. Every tangible and intangible thing.

He is jealous in all the right ways if things are done without this consideration. Things like non-thankfulness, absence of praise, independence (from God not people), half-hearted trust, an uncaring spirit, self aggrandizement, trivial pursuits for the sake of ignoring significant pursuits, almost-significant pursuits that we throw ourselves into, downright terrible pursuits… and mopey boredom (a.k.a. not doing anything about anything because nothing is worth your effort).

Taking Steps

First, I must say that it’s oddly difficult for me to blog this summer. I have not written anything really, and there may not be much else, I don’t know. I think it’s because I still have to write a certain update letter. This task is lodged in between me and the freedom to write other things. I have actually finished writing it, but have not had it read by someone else yet, so it’s not quite sent and done. Also, I wrote a whole lot of stuff while I was away from my computer and want to post it, but the moment of me really ‘feeling’ what I was writing is past. So all that stuff that was once so golden to me processing is now… also lodged. To blog or not to blog? In any case, the final reason is probably that I’m struggling with my self-will. I can tell. Some sort of (temporary?) impasse is in my heart. At such times it is very difficult to write persuasively or with any sort of dedication because you are fluttering between stances (立場). I could try and write about other things, but that would evade the point of this blog, which is to process spiritually and intellectually. If not for what’s happening in the heart as you read and write words, they are empty. Mere squiggles. The most beautiful poetry is but cardboard to me if it does not move me inside. (Ahh I see that I have come to claim my stance on literature alongside the likes of Sir Philip Sidney? Roethke?)

Anyways, the following is something I found back around March when I was thinking about life direction.

From Stepcase Lifehack (http://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/how-to-create-self-help-momentum.html)

How to Create Self Help Momentum

a.k.a. practical steps in non-spiritual lingo for the person in relation to following Christ / finding your calling

For some reason this completely unspiritual guide to ‘self-help’ actually provides some key insight to spiritual growth in faith. This is when you’ve reached the place where God has revealed all he really has to reveal and it’s up to us to take a step of faith, trusting and relying on the Holy Spirit. This is not the guide to follow step by step, but parts of it are put so succintly and in such different language from normal Christian reference literature that it serves to jolt thinking a bit. If you’re serious about reading this I’d recommend skimming the original from the link above – just the 5 points – in addition to reading my ‘Christianese’ rendition below.

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Take that first step and keep stepping.

Love = obedience. We don’t understand what it is to love God if we do not put energy into obeying him. Jesus was obedient to death. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.(John 15:9-15) Certain things have prerequisites; I feel that following God is one of those things that you don’t know is ‘a right fit’ until you have walked the path. Have you ever thought, after trusting God for something no matter how small:

“I wish I had done this years ago!”

“I don’t know what I was so afraid of.”

Consider the cost of not changing.

This was the one part I liked about this point:

“Change is rarely about the right time and [is] usually about the right attitude, choices and behaviours.

Sometimes picturing what we don’t want is enough to get us moving in the right direction.”

The Cost of Following Jesus (Luke 9)

57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus [7] said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Gain some clarity and certainty.

Say “no” to a “repetitive existence of habit.” Say no to the law of sin.

Stop being so ‘busy’, and listen to the “still small voice.” [The Spirit, who gives us the mind of Christ]

When we find this clarity, “it scares the crap out of us.” Think of Peter walking on water, of Jesus saying “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men,” of Abram told to “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you,” of Moses told to go to Pharoah, of the voice speaking “Samuel!” or of the Lord’s words to Jeremiah:

5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

6 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” 7 But the Lord said to me,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’;
for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
8 Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the Lord.”

What do you want and not want for your life?

Get excited. Excitement creates momentum.

I have nothing to add to this point. Only again to highlight one bit:

“If you’re not excited about your goals, you may need different ones.”

Set deadlines.

Not some time in the future, as you approach Damascus and suddenly a light from heaven flashes around you, but the next five minutes. And this is the hardest hardest part. This part engenders the most feelings of failure.

But I’d say don’t worry about it. If God has a hold of you, he has a hold of you. In short time or long, he will reel you in, herd you back.

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What an eyesore of a blog post. I’d best publish it right now.

Love is like an electrical circuit

Just thinking about “God’s love” and “loving God,” and what that means.

Why does God want us to love him? (i.e. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength/mind.” Deut 6:5/Matt 22:37) Is he egotistical, needy…?

Among other things, I think that the reason is just so that he can love us more! One can love another without reciprocal love, but isn’t it so much more rewarding for both if the love is reciprocal? God is love; he cannot help but love us lavishly. He made us after all, in love, to love. Not that God is incapable of ‘loving’ us if we do not love him back. But a one-sided love is simplistic and dead. A mutual love is whole and vital.

It’s like those physics diagrams with the battery and lamp. The lamp may be connected to the battery on one side, but unless the circuit is complete, the energy (love) cannot flow back to its source. No light will result — the purpose of the lamp unfulfilled. God is that battery. We are that lamp.

Why “Radical One Of Many”?

Making up names is something that really takes me a while. There are just so many considerations, so many choices, so many possibilities! The name is possibly the single most important bell or whistle attached to a thing. It yells your first impression. Nietzsche would probably disagree with me here and say that ‘names’ and words in general cannot be given so much trust as I’d like. I however, would not like to be so precise and technical with language.

Instead I’d consider what feeling or meaning that I think certain words give to the ‘average’ reader. This, I suppose, would be my weak point, as I can only assess the ‘averageness’ of readers out of the circles of people I know.

Radical. It means of the root, or fundamental. It describes a person who is passionate about some fundamental idea. It implies someone who goes against the norm of society. Who wants change. It usually describes politically radical people, but that is not what I am. (I have tried to be interested: I took a Political Science course, I read the paper occasionally, but to no avail.)

My fundamental idea pertains to love: love of God – the Christian God. Everyone has their fundamental worldview, and whether or not they are aware of it, it affects what they do and who they are. Hopefully my life reflects my belief that life should be a) all about loving God; and b) trying hard to live life, ‘real life’, to reflect this through acting out God’s commands – i.e. trying to be like him – and constantly reassessing my life in regards to this.

One. So like the many, but so different from them all. Yes, this may be self-expression, but the self is as similar to the other as they are different, I would say. Maybe you’ll find something among these words.