Saturday, April 14, 2007

A King and a Kingdom

Wind and waves. Force and motion. Roots and trees. Creator and creation. One cannot exist without the first. It gives meaning, substance, depth, even sustenance to the other.

So many days, I focus on one half of that equation. I forget why and busy myself with things that kill my spirit. I forget Who and lose sight of the One I truly love. My meaning, substance, depth, sustenance...every part of me is wrapped up in Him. The words echo in my head...

If there is a Kingdom, then there must be a King. The Kingdom implies the King.

In the midst of a result-driven culture, a convenience-addicted generation, a living, breathing disparity to reality...I struggle to find my roots. My cause. The One who began it all. I wonder who I have become. Piece by piece, He shows me who I really am. And I find myself in this place once again, where He quietly speaks to me and asks me to trust Him...not just today, but every day. Not just with my future, but with my present.

Life in this Kingdom is upside down. Paradox is the basis for most things Godly. Think of the concept of grace, revealed in its very meaning: unmerited favor. If we ever received what we truly deserved, we would burn for eternity in a lake of fire. Our hands are filthy with blood and dirt.

But we were washed. We were sanctified. We were justified. Set free by every drop of blood that poured from His body, every excruciating step He took toward that dreadful, beautiful hill, every belabored breath He took as He clung to life...the whole exchange was a perfect paradox.

And yet we take it so lightly.

I can scarcely express in words how vital it is to understand that we are not here to bide our time with games and competition. Comparison is a silent killer. Laziness is a comfortable friend. Complacency is a numbing drug. We cannot continue like this any longer, friends. Please...believe me when I say this:

Grace abounds. Take it while it might be found.

[You can now find this piece on Relevant Magazine online here. Go. Read. Browse. Enjoy.]

Monday, April 09, 2007

Generation "i"

The iTunes revolution has been sweeping the nation since its launch in 2001. Apple has gone from being a fledgling computer company to a force to be reckoned with in the world of media convergence. Being a student at a university has opened my eyes to how widespread this pandemic has become. Every time I log onto my personal iTunes account, a list of dozens of other users pops up. We can share music as long as the other person is logged on, and it creates an enticing variety in music selection.

Even more, my campus is filled with students milling about with telltale white cords running from their ears to their iPods. They’re everywhere—walking to class, sitting in a lecture hall, even dozing in the garden at the center of campus. As much as my university is only a sample of the massive consumer population of said products, sale statistics validate that the iTunes movement is in full swing.

Apple announced on Monday, April 9 that it just hit its 100 million mark in iPod sales. A staggering 2.5 billion songs have been sold via the iTunes music and media store, along with 50 million TV shows and 1.3 million movies. Users need not leave the comfort of their computer chair to purchase things that once required leaving their place of residence.

My generation is emerging from college with the latest Apple gadgets in hand—and the next big thing seems to be the iPhone. But my generation isn’t the only connoisseur of this Apple madness—grandparents and school children alike can be seen with the latest, greatest Apple product. All this leaves me wondering how long it will take until we are completely reliant upon technology, and the simplicity of taking a walk on a Sunday afternoon will be replaced with watching the latest edition of your favorite podcast on iTunes.

In many ways, I am guilty as charged. Although my preference for catching a live acoustic show at a coffee shop is particularly die-hard, I find that my habits have shifted. Although I am yet to purchase an iPod, I have partaken of the iTunes music store feature. I’m yet to decide whether or not it truly compares to physically holding my favorite band’s latest album in my hands. Something about the the way I eagerly struggle to remove the shrink wrap from a brand new CD and pour over the lyrics for days as I listen to the CD on repeat in my car will always have a place in my heart. And I will always maintain that flesh and blood is so much richer than a glowing hunk of plastic and metal.

So here I am, in the midst of an ever-growing trend. I like to call it “Generation i.” We so willingly submit to the savvy branding of Apple as the music industry rises and falls with technology. It has become part of our every day existence. I’m not anti-Apple by any means, but I am wary of the increasing role technology has taken in our lives. It leaves me with one burning question: is our artistic expression and media experience being helped or hindered by this wave of innovation?

I’ll admit it: I’m a fence-rider. I haven’t come to any conclusion as of yet. I’m old-fashioned in some ways, but wide-eyed and interested in the possibilities of technology and invention. So I carefully choose where I will participate and, for all our sakes, keep a close eye on what trend or movement will envelop the media of our nation next.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Unknown

It used to plague me...not knowing what will happen next. Or worse yet, I thought I had it all figured out, and then something unexpected comes. I was talking with one of my closest friends Luci tonight and she told me that the only thing she expects now is the unexpected (as is evidenced by certain developments in her oh-so-vivacious existence.)

And the age old paradox lives on that the only thing constant in this world is change. Mind you, though God is very present in our world, He is, indeed, otherly.

I cannot prevent much of anything from happening. Two months ago, I thought I knew what I was going to be doing over the next 6 months. I'll tell you this, friends: it's all changed. God has brought so many unforseen changes that really have nothing to do with circumstance or logic. He tends to defy those every day, but sometimes I'm too blind to noitce. Those of you who know me well understand exactly what I mean.

And for the first time in a very long time, I'm completely content with the unknown. Not because I am denying that there comes a time when I need a plan...but because I'm not the one making the plan. I'm just following in the well-worn path my Father has made for me. I'm doing my part. I'm pulling my weight. I'm making the decisions He wants me to and using my head. But in the end, He is the one who opens doors. It's a humbling place to be, when all you've done is all you can do.

If there is one thing I have learned, it's this: Genuine humility begins with a willingness to be broken. And brokeness, in the context of God's love and secuirty, is full of beauty, power, vulnerability and emotion.

So I challenge you, regardless of where you are or what your state of being is, to rest in the unknown, because ultimately You rest in the arms of a Father who knows all. He hears the cry of your heart. He hasn't forgotten. His everlasting arms will hold you up in the fire of trial and the midst of battle.

Recite with me these simple words: I don't know, and that's okay.