bxrtley

A personal trail of synchronicity

Category: spirituality

Been A Long Time Comin’

I wanted this post to wax eloquent in metaphors and imagery that would make your eyes well up in tears. I wanted to have a grand return from my sabbatical of public writing. I wanted you to see this headline in your Twitter timelines, RSS feeds and email subject lines and say, “He’s back!” But that’s not going to happen. The truth is this might get crowded out from the other prominent birds chirping their stories. And you have more pressing emails and news feeds to follow. But for the 1% of you that just might happen to see this, I have six words for you:

After seven years, I finally graduated.

And I didn’t even wear my cap and gown. You know what I wore to begin this new chapter of my life? Business casual clothes with a denim messenger bag. Instead of throwing my cap up in the air, I swiped my card down through a slot. Instead of a grandiose dinner filled with small talk, I ate a simple lunch and had meaningful conversation with a navy veteran. Instead of shaking the university president’s hand with an empty diploma case, I shook my boss’s hand with a heart full of gratitude.

On Sunday I graduated. On Monday I began work. The irony of all this is I didn’t move to NYC to find a job or start a career. I came up here to find myself and the One who called me. But after a while, this spiritual journey turned into a paper chase. I wanted to thrive and escalate a professional ladder for self-reliance and sustainability.

After I let go of that “came here with one pressed suit and a briefcase filled with ambition” narrative, I was able to graduate. Not just with a Masters of Arts degree, but a Submissions to God diploma. The added bonus, which I now believe is designed to keep the latter diploma current, was employment in the public service market. And this was all possible because of submitting to the divine instruction of working full-time, without any stable income, on a ministry that served others and not myself.

So, when will I celebrate? Perhaps on my 30th birthday. But for now, there’s work to be done. Oh and…I’m back.

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A Loaf of Resurrection – Eat Up

Easter. Resurrection Sunday. End of Lent. I think I’ve a slightly better understanding of the meaning of Jesus’ resurrection and his salvation. His “Father forgive those who are cluelessly killing me” petition shows you can’t reconcile with someone who doesn’t know they’re wrong. But you can forgive them. Jesus died and resurrected for everyone, but we can’t be reconciled to the Father until we’re aware of our condition. And no reconciliation means no salvation. But there’s hope. Salvation is like bread on the table (forgiveness). And it’s ours for the taking once we realize we need it (reconciliation). Eat up.

Father Forgive Them…

What’s tougher than forgiveness? Forgiving when the other party doesn’t know they’ve hurt you. Some questions will emerge:

  1. If I forgive without them realizing their wrongdoing or while they’re in denial, am I enabling their behavior?
  2. If reconciliation is born out of forgiveness, how do I reconcile with someone who’s totally clueless of their mistakes?
  3. If I try to make them aware, won’t I seem like some annoying person who wants peace if they’re not even thinking about the situation anymore?

Answers: Yes, You Can’t, and Perhaps. “Father forgive them for they’re utterly clueless” just took on a whole new meaning.

The End of the We(a)k

Jesus’ miracle events were often responsive. “Hey Jesus, we ran out of wine, can you whip up a batch?” “Jesus, my daughter’s fallen ill, please help.” “Jesus where you at?! I’m blind, don’t pass me.” But on the seventh day, we find Jesus being proactive, choosing to physically restore people, specifically with “infirmities”–paralysis or degenerative illnesses. Why? Perhaps He wanted to restore both weakened individuals, while reviving the purpose of His weekend Sabbath. Religious laws and traditions diluted the physical restorative power of this day of spiritual communion. Have you felt restored by week’s end? It’s waiting for you.

Insidious Questions Need to be Quickly Addressed

I used to think God was harsh when he plagued Miriam with leprosy after inquiring about God blessing others with his Spirit. Now that I’m older, I understand the gravity of her inquiry. It’s an insidious rhetorical question that could’ve sowed the seed of doubt and blossom into full-blown mutiny against Moses’ leadership.

“Has Yahweh spoken only through Moses? Has not Yahweh also spoken through us?”

Miriam

VS

“Did God indeed say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The Serpent

Her seemingly innocent question is one that is ancient and all too familiar for God. Leaders, take note.

Deep Work, Deeper Faith

I know what’s keeping me awake. Lately I’ve been writing about deep work and deliberate practice. But this quote came to mind:

Not by strength and not by power, but only by my Spirit, says Yahweh of hosts. Zechariah 4:6

Living a christocentric philosophy can seem paradoxical. Am I required to work hard? You bet. Multiple passages in Scripture support deep work and link laziness to poverty. But no matter how deep I plow and plant, I still need the sun, rain and photosynthetic process. Do the work. But consider the source. Honor it (or Him in my case).

Conservative Christian is an Oxymoron

Conservative can mean a super-modest believer or a right-wing, bible-toting Republican. But Christianity isn’t modest. It’s radical. You can’t be conservative and a Jesus-follower. Conservatism avoids the uncomfortable foreign policy of the Gospel Commission, the paradoxical theocratic-socialist government infrastructure of the Kingdom of Heaven. And it avoids the president-elect himself, Jesus Christ. I believe life starts at conception and that the book of Leviticus is still valid today. And I’m also pro-choice and support gay marriage. Why? Well, it’s also why Jesus is president-elect of each person’s heart: A forceful inauguration would infringe freewill.