Archive for the ‘Random Thoughts’ Category

I have often wondered to myself why people of faith allow themselves to suffer because of their inability to faithfully walk in the path God has lain before them.  Many times, I have seen people who know that they’re supposed to do great works for God, but choose not to, and suffer because of it.  I have seen ministries falter because the leadership failed to hear the voice and command of God and went a different direction.  I have seen churches who were once pillars of communities for over a century suddenly wither to nothingness because the leadership chose to follow the crowd’s desires instead of God’s.  And all the while, I’ve had to deal with the pain of watching the world burn, and not being able to do anything about it.

Many times as Christians, we are given visions and plans of great works from God, and when we submit these visions to the people, they are not received very well.  Many times, these same people, who claim that they are following the same God, feel as though these visions or plans are not in line with what God wants because it doesn’t look like what they believe God would want in their eyes.  As a result, we, the ones who have the vision and are ready to proceed, have to wait on God to touch the hearts and minds of those who stubbornly kick against the pricks and fight against Him.  In waiting, we have to watch God pick apart those who cannot and/or will not fall in line until they get in line, or are permanently removed from the equation.

I thought that going through the struggle was hard, but I find that in walking with God, the hardest thing to do is to watch people suffer, the guilty who won’t move out of God’s way, and the innocent that are damaged collaterally through the link between them and the guilty.  It is hard to see so many people not receive the benefits of ministries that could be taken to the next level because of men and women in leadership positions that stubbornly hold onto “the way things are.”  It is hard to see lackluster performances from people who relentlessly continue to do things the same way year after year, even though the way does not work.  It is hard to see kids feel neglected by church officials because more attention is given to adult ministries than are the youth.  It is hard to have these ideas, concepts, plans, visions, and innovations in our hearts and minds, and yet when spoken out loud to the ones who should help us, they laugh, scoff, and get angered because they can’t see with their eyes what they should be able to see through their faith.

So as I watch the world burn, I pray that God give me enough patience to endure what I have to see, enough kindness and love to see them through the process, and enough faith to know that one way or another, God’s Will shall be done.  And there’s nothing that anyone can do about it.

This past Mother’s Day weekend was probably one of the hardest Mother’s Days I’ve ever had to endure as I watched the tears fall from my mother’s face.  My siblings and I were on program to sing for the dinner held at the church, and my brother, because of a heated debate about having to “pay to sing,” left the engagement before it even started.  My mother, in a mad scramble, tried to get him to come back, but that attempt failed, and as the program began, my mother sat in her seat, tears rolling from her eyes as if someone had stabbed her in the chest.  I thought she was crying because she missed her grandmother, and it made it difficult a little bit to sing “A Song for Mama” by Boyz II Men watching her bawl. However, we managed (my sister and I) to get through the song without a hiccup, and the program rolled on.  It was later that I found out that my mother was crying because she felt as if neither my brother nor myself wanted to really be there to spend time with her, despite the fact that this Mother’s Day Dinner was a church-sponsored event, AND my mother is the “Pastor’s Wife,” making her the undeclared mother to everyone in the church.  My heart sank to the center of the Earth, and I’ve had a hard time bringing it back to the surface, because for the first time, my mother, as strong, calculated, and nearly emotion-less as she is with me, demonstrated vulnerability and weakness as it relates to our relationship to her IN THE CHURCH, and it has been bothering my heart ever since.

As a P.K. (Pastor’s Kid), I’ve had to learn how to give my emotions a backseat when my mother and father are in the “roles” of Pastor and Wife at the church.  I’m usually the last person to get a hug from my mom, or to be able to talk to her about what I’m going through, or to get an encouraging word from her, or even to say hi, not because she doesn’t want to, but most of the time, she can’t.  She’s helping others get through their issues, giving out hugs after service to every single person who has lined up just to say “hi” and “I love you.”  She’s going to the hospitals at 2 AM to pray for others, and rallying people together for meetings and prayer and such.  And as she is doing all these things, I’m usually just sitting in the background, hoping to get the chance to be like everyone else and say hi not to the “First Lady” or to the “Pastor’s Wife,” but to MY MOTHER.  As a result, I’ve learned to shut my emotions toward my mother down while at church or during church functions so that in case I don’t get the chance to speak to my mother on Sunday, or on Wednesday, or on any other day at church, I don’t get crushed.  After all, I still get to see her on other days and speak, laugh, have a good time, and all that mushy stuff.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten used to it and learned to enjoy the time I do get to have with her, and to allow others to enjoy the time they have with her, for she’ll always be my mother no matter what.

So whem my sister told me what my mother said about the dinner, I found myself rethinking my position as a son and a P.K. at while at the church, because I truly had gotten past looking at my mother as my mother at church to make room for others to be with my mom as the “First Lady.”  I never looked at church being another opportunity to “hang out” with my mama because it never dawned on me that possibly, my mama sees church as a way to hang out with me.  I never imagined that maybe being at church, going to church activities, fellowshipping with the saints, and praying together could be my mom’s way of spending time with me, my wife, and my kid.  It bothered my spirit because it almost felt like a double edged sword cutting me both ways.  When I shut down and treat church functions as church functions, being emotionless as I can be so that my feelings don’t get hurt when I can’t be a son and my mother can’t be my mother, I get gut-checked because my mother wants to spend time with me; but when I want my mother to be my mother at church, I get gut-checked because she’s being a mother to about 2-300 people and does not have time for me.

Being a P.K. is hard sometimes.  But I am grateful to God that I do have a mother that I can sing to, and say hi to, and hug every now and then, and talk to, and hang out with.  Regardless of the occasion, make the time to be there for the ones you love, as I swallowed my pride and stayed at the dinner and kicked it with my mama for a little while.  We never know when we have seen our loved ones for the last time, so make each moment count.  Even as a P.K., I’m still a son, my Pastor is still my dad, and his Wife is still my mama.  And as long as time allows, I’ll love them with all I have in me, and I’ll wait my turn to be a son while the Pastor and Wife tends to the needs of the people, knowing that at the end of the day, we will always return to each other as family.

I recently came out of a Sunday service feeling as though my soul had not been moved by anything put out during the service.  And it wasn’t the first time that I had felt that way, more like the 4th or 5th time straight.  The songs weren’t doing it, the prayers weren’t uplifting, and the message from the pastor seemed convoluted and all over the place, leaving me with more questions than answers, more doubt than inspiration.  I wondered to myself what’s really going on because service just did not feel the same way as it had in the past, and I do not like feeling as though I’m not getting filled when I go to church.

As I thought about the topic I wrote previously on in “What’s My Motivation,” I pondered if my worship was consistent, that I was in worship to God out of love and not out of habit or ritual, especially considering that things at my church have changed slightly, but not enough to say that the ritualism and traditionalism has shifted completely.  Still confused, God sent my brother and sister over to the crib to help me flesh this out.  And what God showed me humbled me so much that I wished I could take back everything I had thought about prior to the conversation we had, because I realized just how selfish I was.

God revealed to us that when I’m in a period of stagnation (where nothing good nor bad is happening, and worship to God APPEARS futile), it is not an opportunity to go searching for the next big FIX, that next big HIGH, or that next big, dare I say it, SPIRITUAL ORGASM in which I feel so alive in God.  Because when I go in search of a fix, I’m saying to God that my relationship with Him is not good enough or satisfying enough to wait on Him to move in my life and give me what I need and desire when the time is appropriate.  Every time I’ve hit a period of stagnation, I’ve always tried to cut and run to the next church, or the next choir, or the next thing, in search of a spiritual high that I should be able to have despite where I am, especially in a period of stagnation, where I have the opportunity to store up praises and thanksgiving to God in preparation for the eventual trial or trials to come.

But more importantly, while I’m in a period of stagnation, God revealed to me that OTHERS are in periods of spiritual highs, ah-ha’s, and inspiration all around me.  And as I considered this, I realized that while I wasn’t necessarily feeling the message or the worship service every now and then, other people in the church WERE.  They got the message they were supposed to receive, they got the miracle they needed from a song that was sung, and they got the inspiration they needed to move forward in God and in life.  So although the message wasn’t for me, or the song wasn’t for me, someone in the service got the message.  Someone got the inspiration from the songs and the prayers.  And because we are ONE BODY (1 Corinthians 12), when one person rejoices, all should rejoice.  Because we are ONE BODY, when one is inspired, all should be inspired.  Because we are ONE BODY, when one feels the move of the spirit, all should feel moved by the spirit, if nothing more than just because that person, who is part of the Body of Christ, felt the spirit.

I realized that I have been so selfish, saying that God must have not been in this place, or God is trying to shift and people aren’t getting it, or that change needs to happen or people need to get out of the way.  I realized that instead of having a selfish attitude, I need to be there to rejoice with those who are where they are in God, for that is the sign of spiritual maturity:  the ability to recognize where I am in God and where others are in God, and not judge them for where they are, but instead encourage us all to build upon where we are in God together.  Furthermore, I need to be patient enough to wait on others to see what God has shown me so that we can worship on the same level together, if that is God’s will.  Until then, I must be willing to worship with others, even when I can’t feel what they are feeling.  For as my siblings said to me, “It might just not be my Sunday to feel it.  It doesn’t mean I won’t feel moved the next Sunday.”

😀

Matthew 6 talks about how my happiness lies in the treasures I store.  If I store treasures on earth, then my happiness is contingent on maintaining temporary things, things that are not built to last.  Is that the kind of happiness I want?  If I spend my time chasing after temporary things, I will never be happy.  Rather, I will be caught up in the pursuit of happiness, a pursuit that cannot be achieved by obtaining material wealth.  What has happened is that I have taken on the world’s mantra that I should achieve the American dream, and expect God to make me happy by giving me that dream.  But when my dreams are not realized, I are no longer happy with myself or our God because my happiness was based on OBTAINING STUFF.  God is looking for a people who are happy with obtaining Him and His spiritual blessings, which are not meant to satisfy the flesh, but are meant to satisfy the spirit, a transcendence of wealth from the natural to the supernatural.  This intangible happiness can only be accessed through faith, for it is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.

That’s why I can’t allow myself to be swept away by a world that changes its mind about what constitutes as happiness every 15 seconds.  If my happiness was based on having the latest gadget, I would be sad every 3 months because every day, new phones, iPads, watches, computers, and other STUFF come out, and it’s impossible to keep up.  By the time I can afford the iPad 1, here comes the iPad 7.  Get a flip phone, now phones come in watches.  I cannot let what others dictate as happiness become my definition of happiness, for if I do that, I will never be happy.

But then take it a step further.  I can’t even base happiness on what I think happiness should be.  Even if I don’t prescribe to the norms of society, if I base my happiness on what makes ME happy, I set myself up to be disappointed because those things will not last nor will come to pass the way I expect them to.  Because my will is not God’s will (in the literal, two separate entities sense), it is not guaranteed that my desires, even if Godly, will turn out the way I expect them to.  And if my happiness is contingent on my desires coming to pass as I expect them to, I only end up sad, depressed, angry, and bitter because things did not go my way.  That’s not the kind of happiness I want, for if that’s the kind of happiness I pursue, then I have given POWER over to things, saying to these things or people, “I give you the authority to dictate whether I am happy or not.”  I submit my pleasure button to things, not to God who gives me dominion over things.  I’d rather submit to God and enjoy life in Him regardless of whether I obtain things, than to submit to things and be miserable when those things pass away.

As I was washing dishes the other day, I had this random thought pop in my head.  Do I really have free will?  If God is the orchestrator of all things, and He knows the very thoughts in my head, and knows what I’m going to do before I even do it, do I really have a choice in what I say or do throughout the day, throughout the week, throughout my entire life?  I often think that I am the product of my choices, that I am here because of the choices I made, which then determined my outcome.  But if I am a Child of God, who has preordained my steps since before I was born, when I was in my mother’s womb, then do I really have a choice in what I do and say?  Have I ever had a choice?

I sat down with God for a few days, and God revealed to me that though He has ordained my life to be the way that it is, it is only this way because I made a choice, and it’s a choice I have to make daily, which makes me the product of my choices.  That choice is whether to stay in the Will of God, or to stray against His Will.  Every decision I make, albeit big or small, is rooted in some way in the grand Will of God, and my decisions, the daily choices that I make, are contingent upon whether God wants me to do what I am doing or not.  Even in those times when I have to make a huge decision that I know will impact my life for the next five years, and I actually have no idea where that decision will lead me in two days, I have to decide whether I am going to submit to the Will of God or submit to my own devices, safety nets, and limited scope of view.  By deciding daily to operate under the Will of God, I am exercising my “free will” and submitting my will to a God whose Will is far more precise, rewarding, and fulfilling.  So do I have free will?  Yes.  Is it really free, that remains to be seen.  Then again, faith being the evidence of things NOT SEEN, I guess only God will know, eh?