Spending the last month or so pledging a Christian fraternity isn’t something I would have told you I planned to do 2 months ago. Sure I thought about it, but it would require sacrificing independence, time, etc. Yet here I am, and man I got to say, the reasons I had for not doing it sound so ridiculous now. Beta Upsilon Chi has been a life changing experience.
Here’s the odd thing about me though. I’m a junior. I’m right at half way to being 22 years old. I don’t fit the “typical” pledge. I mean I’m older than most members after all. This has its burdens and its blessings. I want to share one of its blessing.
When your time is limited, you appreciate what you do with that time. I have very little time to influence BYX, at least in comparison with my fellow pledge brothers. I’m acutely aware that every time I let an opportunity pass by to put myself out there, to encourage, to uplift, to take initiative, I’m wasting a precious moment. When you only have one little bag of candy, you notice all the subtle flavors it offers because its got to last you. That’s how my time in BYX is. If 3.5 years is the typical life span of a member, then I’m going to live just half of that. I want to leave a legacy behind in BYX and that means I can’t waste my time.
Now that is where God takes that thought and flips it on me and turns it back towards my life as a whole and I end up feeling small. If 75 years is all we typically have, how would I live my life if I only had half that? What if I died at 38. I mean I’m over half way there… It’s terrifying. I’m living with urgency, I’m not wasting my life being frivolous. I’m not putting things off to later because I know the end is very close for me in comparison to others. I have no time to waste.
Then He backs it up on me again. What is 70-100 years (if you are seriously lucky) in comparison to the eternity that follows it? What I do now affects eternity more than I ever will know. There are forces beyond me that are watching my actions with great anticipation. My time here is short, and I must be diligent to serve my part, to carry my cross daily. At the resurrection, I don’t want to look back on this and regret all the times I squandered opportunities. So what should I do?
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.”
It means investing my time in things that last, that keep their value. One day all of heaven and earth will pass away, what will remain then that I can put stock in?
What are their value? Well, they were handcrafted by the Great Craftsman, in the image of the most beautiful Being that will ever exist. They were paid for by the blood of the Son of God, which the bible tells me is quite the price.
So knowing that, I pour myself out to others. Sometimes that’s fun and easy. Simply sharing joy and encouragement and living life with them. Other times it requires deep sacrifice. Not just sympathizing with others sorrows, but entering into their sorrows with them, being vulnerable, living in a way that is consistent regardless of circumstance or others reaction to me. In the end, the amount I put in will always be so much less than what is returned in eternity. The people around you, they are the reason you are here. You are either an agent of reconciliation for Christ or you are the image of the power of Christ to overcome all things to unite and make a people of his own. People matter is my point. Don’t waste friendships. Don’t waste brotherhood. Don’t waste sisterhood. Every human interaction is a divine interaction. Every conversation that has goodness in it brings life and is holy. Realize behind every person is a soul. A broken soul, that just like yours is desperately seeking wholeness in the Father and sometimes they don’t know that’s the case.
When you realize this, people become more than just people. A stranger isn’t just a stranger. They are an opportunity, a potential friend, a possible divine moment of life changing serendipity. Friendships are messy because we are messy. The Church can be jacked up because we are jacked up. That’s why grace is so amazing. That’s why we are different. We aren’t chosen because we are perfect. We were chosen because He is and He loves us. This means that nobody is too far away, too difficult, too unlovable for us to pour into. So those times we ask ourselves, is this person too cold or hardened for me to encourage or love, we know the answer is always NO. No one is too far gone. Anyone is welcome. God does the work, we give them our best and in the end, lives are changed. It’s pretty cool.
The love you share, the relationships you’ve made, the bonds you build, that is all you will have one day. Those times I spent on me, what do they buy me in the end? Make the most of this time to invest in them. Don’t lose yourself in things that will perish, the cost is far too great.
One thing I’ve told my pledge brothers this about pledgeship: Its not about finishing first, it’s not about being the winner. It’s about crossing the finish line and crossing together, leaving no man behind. Carrying people on your back, exhausted, finishing 10 hours past when you expected to, but still finishing together. That’s the truth of our lives. We need each other. We finish together. Help everyone. Love everyone. Give everything. Because time is passing us by quicker than we’ll ever know.
“I shall pass through this world but once. Any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
On Wednesday, April 6th, 1994, Rwanda began a series of actions that stained and darkened its history in a way nothing else could. Families turned on one another and friends betrayed each other. Arbitrary definitions of people and class deceived a nation into forgetting that they are all humans and they are all made in the image of our Creator. On that Wednesday began the Rwandan Genocide. It would continue for 100 days and by the end of it 1 million Rwandans were murdered. Women being raped, children being murdered in churches. Parents losing children and vice versa. All by people like you and me. For 18 years since, a mixture of humility and shame has been part of the mood of this country. Reconciliation has been the driving motivation. Wounds like that don’t heal quickly though, sometimes not for generations. And for many, it’s still fresh upon their minds.
God’s love isn’t easy to talk about in context with these events. Not to those who were there and those who lost people. Those who lost everything. Those whose scars still haunt them. God’s love isn’t even easy for us to talk about while watching documentaries and movies about it. Still something can, and should be said.
Christ’s death bore the sins of all humanity. God came down and took upon himself the sin of the world so that there could be rebirth. Sin is in nature, sin is our very humanity now. No part of creation was untouched. We see where nature has been touched and affected by our sinfulness in Genesis. We all know that Christ bore the grief and suffering of the entire world. That means not only our sin, but all suffering, all sorrow, all disasters, all genocides and wars. He felt and took on all that grief. He wept over every lost pet, every illness, every burned home, every dead relative and every soul on its way to hell. It nearly crushed him, but by grace he took it and conquered the grave. Can you imagine that? No you can’t, nor can I. But mediate on it long enough and you will cry, and you will hurt and you will have an understanding that God bore something that is just intangible to us; something words just can’t say.
One might ask, where was God when the terrified boy or girl watched his family be struck down with a machete?
The honest answer is, He was on the cross. He was bringing the child’s anguish upon himself. The physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual affliction. He accepted its horrors on the cross. He took it to buy a way out.
Jesus wasn’t the only one crucified, it’s not miraculous to be crucified in itself. What made the crucifixion unique, what made it beyond measure, was that he while upon the cross, he consumed the suffering of all, ever.
We brought this world upon ourselves, and God paid the price for what we had made. Our sin we accepted, demanded a price for it, and that price was death. And yes, Jesus paid it! He didn’t have to, but he did. That doesn’t rid the world of pain. It doesn’t make it any easier. It brings hope.
Where was God while that child’s family was dying?
He was making a way for him and others, to come through the shadow of death and into abundant life. Life everlasting. He opened the door to the exact opposite of the incomprehensible misery Christ took on the Cross.
We deserve genocides, murder and betrayal, but that’s the amazing thing.
The suffering and horrors we see every single day are outrageous, that’s why Jesus did the most outrageous thing.
Just like that moment on Calvary, the darkest point, when it feels like all is lost, that’s the moment hope can be found.
There is hope for Rwanda. Turn your eyes to it. His name is Jesus.
“One son God hath without sin, but none without sorrow.”
Full disclosure: This might seem eerily familiar, that’s because it’s an edited version of my post on the Tsunami\Earthquake that hit Japan. Still just as relevant, only a new context. The reason for the new context, is this summer I’m going to Rwanda and I’m raising support. I’m needing to raise 3400. To be honest, it’s really really hard and I know that literally, I personally can not raise that much. However, I know with Christ all things are possible and I know it’s extremely easy for him to bring that money forth. So if this post moves you in any way, I ask that maybe you would take a moment to give to help me get to Rwanda, so that I and others might be able to help make these truths a reality for many hurting people. Thank you.
On Friday, March 11th, 2011, Japan had its single worst catastrophe since nuclear weapons were used in 1945. An 8.9 earthquake shook the island considered by the Shinto religion as “heaven on earth”. This earthquake resulted in many powerful aftershocks, a tsunami, and the injury and deaths of nearly 4,000 people, in addition to another 1,500 missing. If this wasn’t bad enough, Japan’s nuclear power facilities are having issues cooling and are facing potential meltdown. Sadly that isn’t all. Japan has prepared for an earthquake since 1976, the only problem is, this isn’t it. Another earthquake is overdue south of Tokyo with the potential to be nearly as crippling as this one. (more…)
Ahh, I’m updating on my Grandma’s ancient early 2000’s desktop. You see I had one of the fastest laptops in the world before, but I’m lending it to a friend temporarly, so it was this or drive to the library. I love it though. I like “roughing it” like this with technology, it always makes me feel closer to my work that I do with it. Anyway, I have two posts to show. I figure you’ll end up reading this one second, but oh well! One is that poem that I nearly went insane over, but still managed to thoroughly enjoy making and this one is just another post. =D So let’s begin shall we?
I’m hoping to have a less intense topic this time round. I want to talk about coming to terms with God’s infinite nature. I realize we will always fail to truly comprehend the true scale of Him, that its beyond our minds’ capability. We can though, strive to remember that fact. It seems to me from my experience as well as the experiences of those around me, we tend to underestimate our God, and in doing so, load blanks into one of our greatest weapons: prayer. (more…)