Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
I once read a famous novel called Atlas Shrugged, which at its core has nothing to do with Jesus. The author's basic philosophy (I'm majorly summarizing here, I hope no Ayn Rand fans take offense :) is that people should pursue what they want— what makes them happy— above all else, and if everyone does that, everyone will be happy. It’s a pretty…Capitalistic idea, but in some ways it reminds me of Jesus. I’ll explain.
In her book she talks about sacrifice. She says a sacrifice is giving something up for no gain in return. A person who gives up his hard earned meal to the homeless beggar simply because he feels that he “should” doesn’t really gain much. He loses a meal but what does he lose it for? He loses it for a sense of guilt or obligation.
A woman who gives up her hard earned meal for her child that she dearly loves, however, does not sacrifice (according to Rand). This woman loses a meal but for the satisfaction of knowing that her child is cared for— she gains the reward of joy because she cares more for her child than for that meal. The point here is NOT that helping beggars or “strangers” is meaningless or helping your own family is self-serving…the point Rand makes is that when we give something up for something we want more, we aren’t really sacrificing— we’re gaining.
Now, Ayn Rand would probably be rolling over in her grave right now if she knew that Jesus was teaching me through her teachings. But He is J The reason my blog is titled “No Sacrifice” is this:
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who found a great treasure hidden in a field. In his joy he went and sold all he had in order to buy that field”. Matthew 13:44
When I truly come into contact with the living God, when my eyes are opened enough to see just a glimpse of His goodness and beauty, I can’t help but see His worth. I can’t help but find Him worthy of pursuing over all else, of “selling all that I have” in order to have Him— the true Treasure. This, I believe, is at the heart of life with Christ. When He bids us to follow Him I don’t think He’s hoping to guilt us into doing it, or trying to convince us why we “should”. If that were the case He wouldn’t have tried to literally talk people out of following Him in the Gospels! I believe that his message was rather, “taste and see that the Lord is good”….”and in your joy, choose Me. Choose me because you want Me more than anything else”.
When you fall in love with someone, you don’t talk to him because you feel that you “should”. You don’t necessarily sell all you have in order to talk to them either…but the feeling you have is “I want to talk to this person so badly that I don’t mind losing sleep, or getting behind on homework, or driving six hours to visit with,” etc. etc. etc. It’s the realization that you want him or her more than those other things, so it’s really not a sacrifice. You are gaining by being with that person, even at the expense of extra sleep or study time J How much sweeter and more satisfying, then, must be intimacy with the living God— the One who came for us and continues to come for us— more than sleep, or money, or comfort…or even that hard earned meal.
Your thoughts are higher than mine
Your words are deeper than mine
Your love is stronger than mine…
This is no sacrifice. Here’s my life.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Some of the "dirt" that I've rediscovered lately is my problem with "finding my identity in Christ". For me that has always been one of those Christian phrases that is slapped on as the solution to a lot of problems but that nobody really understands or knows how to apply! At least my experience was that even though I knew I needed to work on "finding my identity in Christ" I couldn't seem to connect emotionally or practically to the idea. So a couple of months ago I prayed with a woman in Princeton. That time helped me to realize that the sense of identity I felt so lacking was connected to my father dying (which of course, I already knew) but in a way I could understand. She encouraged me to remember how it felt when my dad was around- and there was this sense of "I'm really special because my dad is SO cool and he loves ME." I felt a sense of identity and significance b/c this awesome guy delighted in me and called me his own. It was this feeling of "I'm with him...I"m a somebody because I'm a Miller." There wasn't anything I could do to earn his love...he simply loved me, Hannah, and therefore anything I did (ie. sing) was special. The things I did were not what gave me his love- I can't stress that enough. He loved me simply because I was his.
Understanding how I felt about Dad helped me understand why I so desperately needed a boyfriend after my father died of whom I could say "I'm a somebody because I'm with HIM- this cool guy who everyone likes has chosen ME to call his own". I found someone else to give me identity other than my father. But the whole reason that FATHERS (not boyfriends) are supposed to make us feel that way is b/c God created them to teach us about HIS unconditional love for us and the way we ultimately find our identity in HIM, our True Father. The other major problem with my "boyfriend solution" is that unlike the love of my father, I had to "earn" the love of a boyfriend- I had to do certain things to please him or "keep" him, and I had to compete with other girls. So as long as I'm hoping to find identity and significance in a boyfriend I'm ultimately going to remain insecure, b/c no boyfriend (or even husband for that matter!) can truly love me in the unconditional way that is needed in order for me to be totally secure. What happens if he breaks up with me, has an affair, disengages from our relationship, dies, or just disappoints me by being a broken, sinful person? This is why even children with healthy, loving fathers who DON'T die end up needing to transfer this "sense of identity" because children grow up and realize "my dad is just a person, he's not superman like I once thought".
I don't have to come to God with a question for someone else or an "item of business" in order to talk to Him...I don't have to manipulate in order to be with Him. This week it hit me that God just wants to be with me. Period. No agenda, no accomplishments, no "reason" to legitimize my visit. He delights in me. In the same way I could simply walk into my daddy's room as a little girl and crawl up next to him, I can be with my Heavenly Father because He loves me apart from what I do for Him.
In the movie Sybil, a motherless girl struggles even in adulthood to find healing. She's so afraid of more hurt that she's unable to realize that what she needs most- a mother's touch- is available to her in the friendship of Dr. Wilbur, the female psychiatrist who meets with her every week. Sybil always wants to spend time with Dr. Wilbur, but she always has her "professional" reason- her counseling appointment. It's not until the end of the movie that Sybil finally ASKS for what she so desperately needs- a motherly hug- the moment Dr. Wilbur had been waiting for. Healing took place the moment Sybil opened her heart enough to ask for it.
This is how God my Father loves me. He is ever present, faithfully loving me all the while as I slowly, so painfully slowly learn to trust Him enough to unclench my fists and reach out for His open hands...the moment He's been waiting for. The moment He has patiently led me to.