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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Hurrier I Go...

I simply cannot believe that February is already coming to a close. This month has been a blur. It's been far busier than I prefer, but I cannot deny that I have gotten to do some really fun stuff:

  • Interview several really great, more-than-qualified candidates for summer internships at APU and Westmont;
  • Meet with administration at those schools as well and dream about future partnerships with the Free Methodist Church;
  • Gain approval for our new Center for Transformational Leadership at APU.  We will be putting on leadership development events, training interns, mobilizing leaders and building bridges between Christian schools and the church to access gifted and called leaders;
  • Start a bible study with 5 fantastic Westmont women;
  • Have a birthday!
  • Visit New York City for 6 days with my niece and nephew, who are, at ages 11 and 14, a total blast;
  • Serve on a panel at APU for the departments of Youth Ministry and Christian Ministry;
  • Fly out tomorrow to Nashville for a conference - the Wesleyan Theological Society. 
Unfortunately, I hit a wall of sorts last night when a nagging issue became a gnarly PROBLEM... for some reason, in the last 3 months I've had sporadic episodes of puffy eyes. They appeared to be an allergic reaction to something, but each time dissipated after 2-3 days. But this time the puffiness spread to my entire face and became a full-blown case of hives, swelling my right eye shut. I would include a photo, but let's be honest, I want people to come back to this blog and not run away in horror... (or launch it throughout the internet and bring my professional life effectively to a close!)

I was m-i-s-e-r-a-b-l-e. Thankfully, in our First World privilege, I was able to land an appointment with a dermatologist who said, "Yep, you're allergic to something," and gave me a good ol' cortisone shot in the bee-hind. Things are looking up, but I was reminded yet again that it is imperative to live day by day in dependence on Christ. Nouwen says it well:
We all have dreams about the perfect life: a life without pain, sadness, conflict, or war. The spiritual challenge is to experience glimpses of this perfect life right in the middle of our many struggles. By embracing the reality of our mortal life, we can get in touch with the eternal life that has been sown there. The apostle Paul expresses this powerfully when he writes: "We are subjected to every kind of hardship, but never distressed; we see no way out but we never despair; we are pursued but never cut off; knocked down, but still have some life in us; always we carry with us in our body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus, too, may be visible in our ... mortal flesh" (2 Corinthians 4:8-12). 
Only by facing our mortality can we come in touch with the life that transcends death. Our imperfections open for us the vision of the perfect life that God in and through Jesus has promised us.
On my flight home from New York I started reading Surprised By Hope by N.T. Wright. I cannot recommend this book enough. This expands on the brief picture Nouwen paints in the quote above. I look forward to finishing Wright's book on this next trip. He uses some poetic prose to bring the reality and beauty of our resurrection life into sharp focus. I realize how limited my imagination is, and how much that skews my view of (and anticipation of) eternity.

I won't even attempt to summarize this book. Just read it. But he got my attention big time, and reminded me that "believing in the resurrection of Jesus suddenly ceases to be a matter of inquiring about an odd event in the first century and becomes a matter of rediscovering hope in the twenty-first century." Even better, he rattled my cage and blew my mind with the truth about Christian hope:
"Hope, for the Christian, is not wishful thinking or mere blind optimism. It is a mode of knowing, a mode within which new things are possible, options are not shut down, new creation can happen."

So, amidst puffy eyes, flight delays, a fragile world economy, election drama at hand, and all the variables of daily life, I lift my eyes off my circumstances and on to Christ, and gain the perspective I need. Psalm 44 provided that swift kick in the tail this morning:

1 O God, we have heard it with our own ears— 
      our ancestors have told us 
   of all you did in their day, 
      in days long ago: 
 2 You drove out the pagan nations by your power       
and gave all the land to our ancestors. 
   You crushed their enemies 
      and set our ancestors free. 
 3 They did not conquer the land with their swords;       
it was not their own strong arm that gave them victory.    
It was your right hand and strong arm 
      and the blinding light from your face that helped them, 
      for you loved them.
 4 You are my King and my God. 
      You command victories for Israel. 
 5 Only by your power can we push back our enemies;       
only in your name can we trample our foes.  
6 I do not trust in my bow; 
      I do not count on my sword to save me. 
 7 You are the one who gives us victory over our enemies; 
      you disgrace those who hate us.  
8 O God, we give glory to you all day long 
      and constantly praise your name. 

1 comment:

  1. ISN'T NT WRIGHT THE BEST?!??!! i think i actually got a little teary eyed at the end because it was that good.
    i want to read that book again. and maybe again and again :)