Thursday, May 23, 2013

At a picnic...

At a church picnic, I sit on a rough hewn bench at the end of a long picnic table halfway wondering why I came when I don't really know anyone there. A man sits down across from me somewhere in his late fifties or early sixties I would guess. A mustache draws a white line in the middle of his tanned weathered face. And over plates of pork and chicken we talk, about life and faith and everything in between.
He starts to ask questions and before I realize it words begin to spill out from my mouth floating in the air, bouncing off the splintered wood and pooling all around us. Words of how I want less, less of this world, less materialism, less, less stuff, less of my own plans and less of what is explainable. Words about how I want more, more from Jesus, more of the things that matter, more of joy, more faith, and more of life. There is a moment of silence as the words lay thick around us. On his face I don't see feelings typical feeling of extreme unease that I normally encounter when I threaten the status quo of comfort, security, and safety we hold on so tightly to and I don't even see anger at my insanity, instead I see weariness and a thoughtful gaze.
He takes a deep breath in and muses aloud how I have come to think the way I think and to be the way I am. I sheepishly say I think I was just wired a little off when I was put together because I've almost always felt this way. 
He then looks past me and stares at the barn wall that stands behind me and says he's tired of chasing things that never make him happy. Words begin to fall from his mouth that put history and substance behind my abstract ideas. That all his life he has pursued goals and possessions but after they are obtained there is still a feeling of emptiness-that the happiness they bring is so fleeting and only lasts for a the briefest of moments. Words born of experience express how better jobs, more knowledge, bigger TVs, new cars, and fast boats have at the end of the day done nothing to make him happier. And I see a wistfulness hanging around his eyes.
Could I avoid having that story? Could I do things backwards-what if I don't pursue happiness and instead pursue the heart of God. What if instead of pursuing money, safety, security, and comfort I pursue life? Life for myself and life for others. 
I've always wrestled with, "Why me?" Why would I get placed into the richest country in the history of the world? While other children are born into places of extreme poverty? Why would I get to have amazing and loving parents who only desire my good? When others are born into families were their parents only seek to harm them? Why me. There is nothing inherently different between myself and them...we both have feelings, thoughts and demons we battle against. I don't deserve the lavish lifestyle that I am surrounded with anymore than they deserve the poverty and pain that surround them. Why me.
Why me? I am here because I am meant to help other people. I wasn't born into affluence for my own desires but for others and I will speak for the voiceless and stand for the broken. This is why me.

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