I have found that I am not a very self-reflective person. When first asked to write on this blog, I questioned whether I would have anything that I really wanted to talk about. In general, I am much more interested in enjoying and experiencing the present moment than I am in reflecting upon the past. Oddly enough, the few moments in my life where I force myself to stop and reflect have been some of the most powerful and life changing moments in my life. These are often the times where I experience God the most. I have since tried to start keeping a journal (an exercise, which continually gets forgotten in lieu of some other social engagement). I have also promised myself that I will take a day of solitude at least once a quarter (is April still in the first quarter of the year?) Lastly, this blog space has been a consistent reminder to me to stop the whirlwind of life that fills my brain and sit in moments of human experience.
Two such moments fill my mind now:
1) One month ago I started a house group for my church, which meets once a week in order to share life and build community as we collectively try to figure out both the character of God and the nature of ourselves. I have consistently been blown away by what God is doing in this group of people and how little my own gifts and abilities have attributed to that process. Here is the single moment that has stayed in my mind for the past three weeks:
Two girls sit silently in the center of the circle with a hope that God will finally reach out and shake them, to wake them up out of the slumber of life. The rest of us sit around hoping and waiting that God will do something for these eager souls. We are afraid that nothing will happen and our hopes will be dashed, we are nervous to truly open our minds to the full possibilities of what God can do. I can feel the nervousness building as nothing is being said and I already know God’s heart for them, but he tells me to be still and wait. I realize that the hardest thing to do is to do nothing. Finally, another girl from our group steps forward and begins to pray over them and then another and another. They pray words of encouragement and affirmation. They share visions and dreams that God has shown them. They speak against fears and worries. It is obvious that the prayers are accurate and filled with God’s truth as the girls begin to weep. All I can do is to sit back and smile as I watch the plans of God unfold before me and the knowledge of his sovereignty overwhelms me.
2) I feel that I am in a season of blessing, but occasionally I am dramatically confronted with the true brokenness of this world. I am overwhelmed by the amount of pain that people carry around with them everyday and I can visibly see their despair and lack of hope. This story happened yesterday on my way to meet up with Dan on the South side of Chicago:
Three blocks from the gym my stomach begins to rumble and I wonder whether I should quickly eat a cliff bar, but worry I may get sick when I run. I take a right down the street of the gym, but am forced to stop a half block later. Two kids are shoving each other back and forth and mouthing off to one another. I have such a hard time understanding this machismo that draws people into these types of confrontations. The driver behind me gets angry at waiting and begins to honk at the kids. As soon as he does, one of them rears back and hits the other one as hard as he can. Ten to twenty teenagers from each side of the street immediately run into the fight to help their friend. People are picking up two by fours, logs and rocks. Kids trying to escape run down the right and left of my car being chased. I feel completely helpless. I am surrounded in my own fear. Some of these kids are as young as 13 or 14 and I want to help them, but I don’t know how. What is a twenty something white guy going to be able to do in the middle of this all black neighborhood? The car behind me seems immune to this type of behavior and begins to drive at the kids backed by repetitive honking. They plow a way through the kids and drive off. Without any other knowledge of how to help I follow behind him and call the police as soon as I am through. I am left now wondering. Who are these kids? What is their story? This must be a very common experience for kids in these neighborhoods, but why? What should I do, what can I do to help that situation?
These moments don’t conclude so neither will I.