Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fighting the gods of Comfort and Convenience

So my life has been a bit harder the last week. I can't say it was really hard because I know that there are a lot of people suffering out there and my hardships cannot compare. It started with minor back pain that got worse over the span of a few days. It was in my lower back, and at its worst, I couldn't even stand up straight. Lots of thoughts poured through my mind. I thought of Pastor Sam's bulging disc. I thought of the fact that I have no health insurance. I wondered if I lifted something the wrong way. I thought that I should take it easy on my back for a few days, but then thought that maybe I need to push through the pain and just deal with it. I can live with pain, I had braces. (My orthodontist wasn't the most gentle and I could have probably nailed him on some health violations if I wasn't a teenager and ignorant.) I was debating whether or not I should tell people about it. I didn't want to hide my problems or seem like I'm without need, but I didn't want to complain or ask for sympathy. So I kept my mouth shut for the most part and hid my pain contorted faces from the people around me. I prayed about it a lot, of course, and was just settling it into my head that I might have to live with this as a "thorn in the flesh" when God revealed to me what it is. It made me laugh. I'm just getting stronger. Last Monday, I took a long ride on my longboard. Apparently, there's a set of muscles in my back that one only uses when riding a long board and this whole time, it has been those muscles that have been sore. I never gave them much of a chance to recuperate since I've been long-boarding to get around after my car had problems. They hurt the worst when I've been reclining and try to get up. If I'm active, the pain is lessened. However, during this short trial, I determined not to let it hinder me. God taught me that pain is not the result, but the journey. I can't be afraid of it. I have to endure. As much pain as I was in, it was nothing compared to what Jesus endured on the cross. It is nothing compared to what I deserve. I apply this to relationships too. If I invest in a relationship, I know that I'm going to get hurt. The amount of pain I feel is directly proportional to the amount I care about this person. Will it hurt? Yes. Can I live through it? Yes. Is it worth it? Well... more hesitantly, but still resolute... Yes. I will not be run by the god of Comfort. I will be run by a God of Peace and Rest. I can have peace and rest in discomfort. I don't blame anyone for my physical ailments (when I have them) and I am not going to worry about health insurance. If I can ever afford it, I may get it, but since I can't, I won't worry. If I get sick, I'll just be sick until God makes me better. If that keeps me crippled or hurting for the rest of this life, that's okay too. This life isn't that long, but the next one is going to be forever. Jesus is coming back any time now anyways. And even if He waits a bit longer, 60 years will pass by like that... if I live that long. I'm not planning on it. I want to go to Heaven as soon as possible. (By the way, my back feels a lot better.)

I will also not be run by a god of Convenience. My car, Malchus, is having problems. I'm emotionally ready to say goodbye to this car, although he has been a good car. He's lasted longer than I expected. He's run when he shouldn't have (on no coolant) and I'm without a car until either he gets fixed or I get another car. But this isn't the first time I've been without a car. Not having a car is actually a bit freeing. I rather like it. It's not just the money, but I think the more we do without conveniences, the more joy we put into doing things for the Lord. If something is easy, I might not appreciate it as much. However, if it cost me my sweat, blood, and tears, it is a lot more meaningful. Just getting to church lately has been a challenge. It takes almost an hour to get there by longboard, almost as long by bus (but less sweaty and tired), and even though many people are offering rides, it's hard to ask. I have to give up control of my schedule and leave when people want to leave. I think that maybe we have too much say, too much choice to follow God with a clear conscience and a pure heart. I think we always wonder if we could have done something different or better or faster. We are always planning and figuring and focusing on getting everything done instead of doing what we can with the moment we have. Today, in my office, not ten minutes before we had to perform a skit, I ran into a situation that had to be addressed right away. I wanted to freeze time so that the impending skit would not rush the ministry I found myself in. As I was listening to the problem, I heard technical difficulties that I should have been helping with, but I couldn't. They weren't important right now and someone else did step up to help. The ministry wasn't convenient for my schedule but it was needed. I almost canceled the skit, but we ended up performing it anyways. My prayers are still going to this problem, but it showed me that I can't keep such a strict schedule that I can't take time to minister to people, which is the whole reason for ministry in the first place. Our ministry of things is to minister to people. It would be like making a car that didn't have room for a person because a person would just crash it anyways and mess it up. Ministry that can't take time to help out people is no better than a trophy. It shows your achievement, but has no other use. People are inconvenient. But that's okay. I want to minister to them anyways, whether or not I have a car.

PS. While I was writing this, my roommate came home and I took a break and closed my computer so we could talk.

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