Be content living no one else’s life but your own.
I believe one of the greatest issues in our society (as well as in my personal life) is when we try to measure ourselves against other people. Too often, we are trying to live lives that we were never meant to live. Pain, inadequacy, resentment, jealousy, and a whole host of other negative emotions are the only possible outcome.
Be the absolute best version of you. It isn’t OK to be average – an average version of YOUR potential. But your best might always be average in the eyes of society and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone has different callings and paths to walk. Those paths of humble and quiet objectives are just as important as the in your face, change the world in giant ways missions. Walk your path and don’t pay attention to the paths you weren’t born to walk.
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The weight of the world
is a feather in the hand of its maker.
It does not burden, break, or bury
the one who reigns outside of Time and Space's domain.
Our behemoths are merely single barbs
attached to that weightless shaft
that flutters like the forest's souvenirs
given to a child, fallen from the wings of a jay.
In his hand our juggernauts
are not threats but specimen.
His palm is large enough
to hold worry ad infinitum.
Push the crushing fear
off your chest and rest,
knowing that it's but a harmless feather
fluttering in your father's hand.
Every time I read The Parable of the Prodigal Son I am struck by the behavior of the oldest son. Ever notice how we never really get a resolution at the end of the story? The story doesn’t close with the oldest son saying, “You’re right, Dad. I’m so glad my brother is home – let’s go celebrate.”
My gut feeling is that the oldest son storms away from both his dad and brother, allowing his pride and anger to get the best of him until his resentment grows and turns into hate. It becomes pretty clear by the end of the story that he always did what was right with the expectation of getting favor from his father and an elevated status in the household. As soon as that assumption is questioned by the father receiving the younger son with open arms, the older brother’s real motive comes out.
We often read the story through the lens of the younger brother, relieved that God is a father of love and mercy, ready to receive us back with open arms. What we fail to see, though, is that more times than not we are the older brother – judging and prideful. The younger brother did not just sin against the father; he sinned in some of the worst ways possible. He spat on his father’s reputation so he could have money to have sex with whores and live in squalor.
Most of us in the church have never gone this low. Sure, we’re not perfect, but we’re not included in the lowest wretches of society either. And the pride of every Christian loves God’s forgiveness in his or her own life but scorns it in elsewhere. Don’t believe me? When’s the last time you invited a recovering drug addict, abuser, murderer, rapist over for dinner? Which one of us would have no problem introducing a prostitute to all of our church friends?
You see, God’s love isn’t fair. It’s radical. So radical that it bore nails for people that torture children, rape the innocent, kill for fun. I’m being a bit extreme to make a point. But seriously. Those people have just as much right to the love of God as the most ardent churchgoer. All it takes is for them to recognize their sin and come home like the youngest son did. Ugh. That’s not the kind of grace we like. We like our moments of anger, our quick unclean thoughts, our occasional gossip to be forgiven….But murderers? Rapists? Sadists? Those people need to pay.
And there lies the pride that quickly puts us all in the place of the older brother. Are you happy to see the worst of society in your church? Do you run to embrace them and welcome them home? Or do you wonder what the hell the lady with the short skirt and tits practically out is doing in church? Are you appalled by the stench of liquor on the man sitting next to you?
I relate with the older brother. I hate the fact that God reserves the same place at his table for people who have drifted in sin all their life as for the saintly. I deserve a gold star if I wait in line the whole time and not just cut to the front. That man who killed his wife sure as hell better not get the same reward as me.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son is a relief but mostly, it’s a tragedy. We all like to think we’re the broken son who gets embraced by his loving father. We can even see God running towards us – smile on his face and his arms opened wide. Unfortunately, for the most part, that’s a fantasy. We’re the pissed off brother in the corner fuming, asking, “What about me?” We’re the one questioning the fairness of love that sees everyone equally. We’re the one saying, “How dare you not give me my due for all the time, energy, and devotion I gave you.”
No single sin disqualifies you from the love of God, but your pride disqualifies God from your love. It is the deadliest and most serious of all sins. Yes, even worse than murder. Maybe not in the eyes of the law but in the eyes of God. It is easy for a murderer to know he is wicked. Blood is stained upon his hands. If he wants redemption, he comes broken. “My God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” But for the “good” pride causes a major blind spot, we come to God with chin up, head held high saying, “I’m not THAT bad.” In order to receive the grace and love of God, you must first know you need it. Pride is deadly because it convinces us that we have nothing to be sorry for, that there’s nothing that we need from God. And paradoxically, the son who never walked away is still the farthest from the father.
On my daily walk this morning, I was struck by the stirring of the Spirit as I was meditating on God’s will. I guess I’ve always imagined my contribution to society would be grand. Whether that has been my inflated ego or God speaking all these years, I don’t know.
But regardless, I often find myself irritated by the mundane aspects of life- changing diapers, cleaning the house, helping with homework, watching kids, etc. because it feels like it is keeping me from realizing greatness. How am I going to be able to create a grand piece of art that changes the world if I rarely ever have time to write?
But what if the grand is keeping me from realizing the great? What if God’s will is simply for me to be a great husband, a great father, a great teacher and preacher to my children? Maybe the grand artist is my will and not God’s.
We can never know with absolute certainty what God’s will is; we can only do our best to keep an open place in our mind and heart for the Spirit to speak to us, constantly revising where we’re headed based upon His promptings.
My job is not to elevate myself. The world will one day forget that I existed regardless if I become “famous” or not. But hopefully the work that I do contributes to preserving the name of Jesus Christ so that thousands of years from now people will still know His name. There is no shame living a life that the world never notices if it is well lived, measured not by the world’s standards but by God’s. Better to live by the Word of God hidden from the world than to be elevated by the world without it. Teresa of Avila provides a lovely mantra to live by: “whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices.”
This philosophy allows us to enjoy life and live fully, content in the present moment. It is folly to strive to make something out of YOUR life. Rather, live in a way that makes something out of His life. A life that brings even a single soul closer to God is a life of greatness. Don’t be blinded by the grand. Excel in the everyday, ordinary tasks, and the grand will occur if God wills it.
The more seriously you take yourself, the less seriously you take God. For when you become master, you bind yourself in chains of action, always striving harder and harder, less and less sure you’ve done enough to create a lasting legacy.
But the more seriously you take God, the less pressure you have upon yourself. Laugh at yourself and the ridiculous, pompous thoughts of the human ego. God didn’t create you to glorify yourself; God created you to glorify Himself.
So love life and the people in it. Love the fact that God is going to help come to fruition His will whether you’re completely on board and do everything right or not. God doesn’t need us to glorify Him but knows the only time our souls are full and content is when we live in the Spirit and join in the centripetal, ever-revolving, relational love of God.
We are infinitely cherished and special beings while simultaneously being utterly unnecessary in the grand plan of God. This allows us to live with purpose yet pile all the weight of the world onto the Cross, onto the only one this world truly needs.
My first chapbook of collected poems is available now! I hope you find encouragement in the poems but also a validation that the spiritual life is not all sunshine and rainbows. We all struggle. We all have periods of questions and/or doubt. But it is the yearning that keeps us coming back for more and allows us to experience joy.
You can purchase either on Amazon or on my own bookstore (it is cheaper and has free shipping on my store) and is available on the Kindle and in paperback. Amazon: KindlePaperback Inkspiration Books (my bookstore): Paperback Thank you for your support!
Words are a Holy Fire
Words surged from the pen
staining, soaking everything like spilled paint.
Wood pulp thirsty in a state
of mad-eyed hunger.
Paper ravenous for a glorious taste,
elated to gobble up and digest
the things that time can't erase.
Don't you know?
Words are a Holy Fire,
spread from the Word himself.
Infused with the power of desire
to transform, to turn over the world upon itself.
To burn away the dead timber,
embers eager to make way for the new.
On its charred remains,
plant shoots come bursting through.
Oh, yes listen; I tell it true!
Words are a Holy Fire
with more power than the doers who do.
For they are not forgotten by the fragility of memory
but cling to time like glue.
My first chapbook of collected poems is available now! I hope you find encouragement in the poems but also a validation that the spiritual life is not all sunshine and rainbows. We all struggle. We all have periods of questions and/or doubt. But it is the yearning that keeps us coming back for more and allows us to experience joy. You can purchase either on Amazon or on my own bookstore (it is cheaper and has free shipping on my store) and is available on the Kindle and in paperback. Amazon: KindlePaperback Inkspiration Books (my bookstore): Paperback Thank you for your support!
The fences of tomorrow stood behind me
free of my cage,
done with grazing, aging
aimlessly in this pasture of life.
No longer pinned within
the decision to end or begin.
Tomorrow I wrangle dreams.
Planting is a Prayer
Planting is a prayer.
If you do it right.
If you take delight in the present
but keep future possibility in sight.
For God doesn't need words.
With each heart beat
you lay at his feet
a million complaints, hopes, fears,
doubts, joys, and defeats.
A creator knows its creation
better than the creation itself.
Your ink filled his pen.
He outlines your story, your end
before it evens begins
but allows you freewill
over the final edits.
Planting is a prayer.
If you do it right.
If you're aware you've been given oversight
in a chapter of a story
that's been continually expanding
since the Word first spoke to the void:
"Let there be light".
Let you delight
in the blessing you've been given -
partial control over the story of life.
The Song of Life
The rhythm of my soul beats
with joyful contentment.
are the melodies my heart sings.
The song of life is playing
every second of every day.
until it moves
your heart to dance.
Transformation A Poem About Change and Growth
To suffer is to live;
to live is to suffer.
Born in the belly of hunger
for the need to discover
who we are
where we came from
where we're going.
The wheels of change
have no brakes,
no way to prevent the aches
from the collusion caused by our mistakes.
Part of growth.
Part of discovery.
Part of transformation.
We strive for the highest good
by becoming who we were born to be.
Surely we find the divine in unity
but also in the solace of individuality:
who we were
who we are
who we're becoming.
Poem about Trusting in God
Troubles slip through my fingers like sand
as long as I cling to your commands,
letting your Word direct my way -
floodgates to block and keep me at bay.
But it's never easy to deny yourself entry,
shackling your will under lock and key of the sentry.
Not more grit, more letting go.
Not what I can birth, what you can bestow.
There's no carrying crosses with only my will;
my volition is far too volatile.
I can get swayed by the winds of the world,
unable to predict my will after they've whirled.
But you're unchanging, stable, and steadfast.
You provide strength and aid when we ask.
Bury pride and leave it dead in the dust.
Victory is praying through trials and learning to trust.
Hello, everyone! I have recently published my first chapbook of Christian poems titled “A Voice in the Wilderness – A Chapbook of Poems about God”. This has been developed and polished over the past six months or so. I am happy with the final product and hope you find encouragement in the poems but also a validation that the spiritual life is not all sunshine and rainbows. We all struggle. We all have periods of questions and/or doubt. But it is the yearning that keeps us coming back for more and allows us to experience joy. You can purchase either on Amazon or on my own bookstore (it is cheaper and has free shipping on my store) and is available on the Kindle and in paperback. Amazon: KindlePaperback Inkspiration Books (my bookstore): Paperback Thank you for your support!