Wednesday, January 27, 2010
I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young. Let him sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him. Lamentations 3:24-28
Ever since I stopped watching movies and TV for the year of 2010 I have begun to realize how much I treat God with little reverence and patience. The reason why seemingly innocent diversions such as television are so addictive and satiating is for the very reason that the gratification is instantaneous. It provides immediate relief of boredom or distraction from sorrow and pain. And when we have had enough, we can just turn it off and forget about it until the next fix. This mentality of immediate stimulation at the press of a button has done severe damage to my faith particularly when I pray for something and it doesn't happen within my expected time frame. Having faith that God will answer a prayer is really easy, having faith that God will eventually answer a prayer over a very long period of time takes something more.
God is not a television. We don't get to turn him on or off whenever we feel like it. The pursuit of God is a constant struggle with long stretches of uncomfortable and lonely silence. His blessings come in seasons following periods of rain and darkness. In a society that values time and the efficient use of it, we have forgotten how to wait in patience for God to deliver.
This past year, I have experienced massive failure in my frail attempts to heal my body. Our medical strategies mimic our society by medicating everything to suppress symptoms but never giving things time to heal and recover naturally. Thus, I have come to the end of my human means in dealing with my health. All my tests came back inconclusive showing that there is really no reason why I have the symptoms that I have. And so, having done everything that I could from different diets to different doctors, I am at square one again: trusting God.
In obedience we submit to the Almighty because what he chooses to do is right and it is the best for us. That's easy to say, but everyday I fight to live it. I look at all the things that he's allowed to fall apart in my life and to believe that it is done out of love is often too much to bear. But the true test of faith is a test of love. Do we believe that he loves us enough that we can let him bring pain into our life and still worship him nonetheless? Do we love him enough to obey him even when his discipline looks more like wrath? Our suffering often appears much greater than the outlook, but as so many before me have said, "this too shall pass". In his time, in his way, there will be seasons of joy and restoration. We must believe it and temper our souls with patience and trust. And so I wait on Him. I will wait for his healing, for his blessings, for the fullness of his joy when this particular season of suffering comes to an end. God, I will wait for you.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Those who are always empty, always thirsty, always seeking for this or that, never satisfied, are weak, and of little use to God. It is the satisfied who are strong, and God has made provision that we should all be satisfied. He offers us such satisfaction in His Son that we are able to say, "I want nothing, I need nothing for myself." That is strength...Neither the world nor the powers of darkness can find an entry there. -Watchman Nee (Changed Into His Likeness)
A few days ago a good friend of mine gave me the courage to do something I knew needed to be done a long time go: cancel my Netflix account.
For the next year, we have committed to not watching movies or television. Why? Because I started to hate what it was turning me into. In the past year with all of my emerging health problems, I began immersing myself in the comforts of Netflix, Hulu, Fox streaming Television and free HBO. At one point I managed to watch 25 movies in a week. On average that is 3 movies and a TV show per day which calculates to about 7.14 hours a day of staring at a flickering screen. Not only that, I was becoming more irritable and antisocial by the day. It was getting so bad that I could not even articulate my thoughts clearly and the prospect of talking to people became terrifying. Some days I wouldn't even leave my apartment or see daylight. And forget about prayer. I was so successfully distracted that I was unaware of anything divine or spiritual in my life. Needless to say, I became depressed, hopeless and completely bored because I had watched every single movie in the known universe.
The very things that seem benign and harmless always find a way to infiltrate our souls, slowly occupying territory that belongs to God. They are the Trojan horses of our culture claiming to be a victory prize only to leave us wrecked, starved and pillaged in the end. We are assaulted with moving images and loud noises everywhere we turn. This barrage of light and sound is so relentless that it can convince us we need it without ever letting us know that we have become slaves to it. The world offers so many diversions that promise relief from an often painful and mundane existence, but in the end it is only a cheap replacement for what will really satiate the soul's appetite.
I think film can be an amazing expression of artistry, creativity and a whole spectrum of human experience, but like any good thing, too much of it corrupts the mind and distorts reality. Maybe I'll watch a movie at some point in the future. But for now, my soul is malnourished and needs something more than simple sugars. I guess this isn't anything really revolutionary and it's not like I was doing hard drugs, but I have been in a walking coma for too long. In trying to avoid pain, I stopped living and resigned myself to an empty reality. No more of that.
Death to distraction. Long live the soul.
(I hope you like my drawing.)