Tag Archives: meaning

God’s window

Standard

In this past week I was involved in quite a few conversations and scenarios where the idea of “doubt” came up: What is it? What does it do? Is it good or bad? (etc. etc. etc., as the good king would say :D) And you, knowing me by now, should know that these situations and conversations got me a’thinkin. This is how far I’ve gotten; maybe you can comment and take us all a little further?

“Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.” – Khalil Gibran

I have always been one to ask questions – from the obvious to the awkward – which means I have always asked questions of my faith as well. In studying theology I found a certain freedom – finally it wasn’t frowned upon to ask questions! In fact, it was encouraged. But in this process of letting go, of going farther and asking more than I had ever imagined, I lost something. Something precious, something that I only realised the worth of a few years later – I lost faith…I lost the capability to know when to let go. I got lost in the pain and the uncertainty of doubt, arrogantly thinking I had finally gotten to where everyone should be journeying. When in fact all I had become was hollow. It was in this time that God graciously introduced Himself to me again – through the faith of others, through their lives and their stories. I was confronted with a freedom I did not know anymore, for I had chosen to become confined within my own small mind and the things that mind could think of and could handle. I thought I had found the answers, because they were answers I could work out; when, in fact, I had only lost the capability to venture outside of myself. I had gotten stuck. Luckily, I got “pulled out” again before there was no turning back. But from then on the debate has raged within and around me – for “doubt” as such is not a bad thing. It makes sure we do not become complacent. Become petrified in our ways.

If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.” ― René Descartes “There lives more faith in honest doubt, believe me, than in half the creeds.” – Alfred Lord Tennyson Doubt is the beginning, not the end, of wisdom” – Ancient proverb

Doubt can be exactly the window God needs to be able to settle Himself in our souls – it very often is. And doubt can make sure that we are still in relationship with the real God, not our imagined or accepted picture of Him. So when does doubt become negative? When does it scoop all meaning out of our thoughts and our lives? When there is nothing left but doubt and cynicism. When all we do is question and doubt and fear. For then we have nothing to live for, nothing to drive us, nothing to strive towards. All we have is emptiness and trying to live through it.

Faith in doubt

Every mental act is composed of doubt and belief, but it is belief that is the positive, it is belief that sustains thought and holds the world together.” ― Søren Kierkegaard ” “The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith.” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie

May there always be enough doubt in our lives to keep us honest and our minds and hearts clear. But may there (also) always be a little faith in our doubt, enough faith to make the doubt an instrument, not the end. And may God, the true Source of all doubt and faith, keep watch over us all in our journey on this balancing act called life.


Advertisements

You are loved!

Standard

This is my beloved, with whom I am well pleased

This week is Pentecost, and as a start to the week’s celebration, I got to listen to a wonderful man named Tom Smith. Because of his teaching, and because of my personal circumstances at this time – my mother is having a very serious back-operation today and my sister-in-law is having the first grandchild on Sarel’s side of the family immanently – these are the thoughts that have been rattling through my brain. I hope my sharing them can mean something to you…

The sad thing is that these wonderfully noble motives often lead us down the wrong track…something I was reminded of again when reading the following from Donald Miller: “If you watched a movie about a guy who wanted a Volvo and worked for years to get it, you wouldn’t cry at the end when he drove off the lot, testing the windshield wipers. You wouldn’t tell your friends you saw a beautiful movie or go home and put a record on to think about the story you’d seen. The truth is, you wouldn’t remember that movie a week later, except you’d feel robbed and want your money back. Nobody cries at the end of a movie about a guy who wants a Volvo. But we spend years actually living those stories, and expect our lives to be meaningful. The truth is, if what we choose to do with our lives won’t make a story meaningful, it won’t make a life meaningful either”.

Now, it might not be a Volvo specifically, but we are more often than not trying to affirm our purpose and meaning through physical things. When actually, in those moments where we are faced with the reality of life and death, it isn’t those things that come to mind. Rather it is the things that make us ugly cry, those things that lift our spirits, that force us to breathe deeply and that confront us with the harsh beauty that life is that our thoughts keep returning to. For those are the things that make our lives worthwhile…that make them feel fully lived in the dark of death’s shadow…and at the basis of all these things lies our desire to be loved! It is in the meaning our lives have for those around us – in the love that we are looked at, that we are hugged with – that we finally know that our being here has not been in vain. That knowing that one life has breathed easier because we have lived.

The most wonderful thing?! That, even before we start looking at the people around us – people who can be fickle and childish – we can be grounded in God’s overwhelming love! “The LORD your God is with you;
his power gives you victory. The LORD will take delight in you, and in his love he will give you new life. He will sing and be joyful over you, as joyful as people at a festival.” – Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord DELIGHTS in the mere fact of our existence! He SINGS over the people He has created us to be! And that only because we exist – BEFORE we DO or SAY anything?! My life has meaning because I am I, created by God to be the me I am, my only purpose being to stay true to the dream He dreamt when He made me. We just have to BE for our lives to have abundant meaning! So let’s stop chasing and striving and being so busy with what the world expects that we forget who we are…let’s refocus on God and his delight…let’s relax…for WE are his BELOVED, with whom He is well pleased!

The simple way…

The shape of me

Standard

Vive la différence!

One of my first assignments as a newbie at 13.tv was to create an inspirational art piece on the beauty of suffering. Some of the first things that came to mind were images of a glassblower with his glass, or a potter with his/her clay – an idea that became the centre of our video. Thursday night Flaps made use of our video clip as an introduction to his #Reverb session, with the clip serving as an idea booster. We had to think about the potter and the clay, about ourselves as the clay with God as the Potter, and then write down ten statements. It was both a humbling and an inspiring process to look at and talk about each other’s statements – serving as a reminder of who we are, Who we belong to, and what our lives are meant to be. And so I decided to share my ten statements with you…maybe it can be the reminder you need…or maybe this is the good news you have yet to hear…

I belong to the Potter.

I cannot see what I will become; I have to trust the Potter for the end result.

Even the simplest of clay items are made because they are needed, because they make an impact/difference.

The forming process takes a lot of work…may sometimes mean almost restarting.

The work is never really finished, there are always more things to do or add…but the result of this tweaking process is always better and more beautiful…more meaningful.

This tweaking process, this becoming more, is almost always equal to more kneading (discomfort) and baking (pain).

My cracks remind me of God’s grace.

My cracks are what make me unique and beautiful, but only if I am filled to the brim with God’s Spirit, making it impossible for Him not to shine through every sliver and cranny.

Being the clay means that there is no other position than vulnerable and completely exposed before the Potter. The clay cannot become anything other than another lump without the Potter. The trick is to live into daily acceptance of that fact…and finding peace.

I can trust the Potter completely – the Potter never starts something He has not dreamt about, never begins working on a lump of clay He hasn’t envisioned a purpose for. His efforts with me equal my meaning.

A joyful noise..."If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That's to prevent anyone from confusing God's incomparable power with us." (2 Cor 4:7)

Value added

Standard

Transforming (rediscovering?) value

How do you define the value of a life? Of your life?

Society has given us many ways to define value…or is that success as value…? All of us are almost programmed with lists of things we have to want to be, do and achieve in order to be estimated as valuable. But, when all is said and done, when there is nobody left but you and nothing other than your thoughts and memories – your heart – what are the things that make you feel valuable? What are the things you think about and treasure?

Tonight, as I was sitting on the Gautrain coming home with my youngest godson sleeping on my lap, I realised once again that those are the moments that matter. That those are the things we should be striving toward. When I think back on my life those are the moments I remember, the moments that make my heart feel like bursting with a sense of purpose and wellbeing. Another life trusting me enough to be completely vulnerable with me. I once thought that what you put out into the world, those things that the world around us measures as being successful, would make me feel valuable. But I have come to realise that it is not the academic article I write for three people to read and one to like; the qualifications that I have; the amount of things on society’s checklist that I have been able to tick off, or even living up to what others see as my potential that makes my being present, my living here, meaningful.
The moments that life, my life, has made the most sense were those moments spent with others. It is only in seeing/recognising one another (which implies being and respecting yourself and allowing others the same courtesy), in journeying together and discussing everything from farting to world peace that we can ever start to know what true value is – in the best of times and in the worst of times.

Valueing others

“Love is the expression of one’s values, the greatest reward you can earn for the moral qualities you have achieved in your character and person, the emotional price paid by one man for the joy he receives from the virtues of another.” – Ayn Rand

“Different things delight different people. But it is my delight to keep the ruling faculty sound without turning away either from any man or from any things which happen to men, but looking at and receiving all with welcome eyes and using everything according to its value.” – Marcus Aurelius

“He who does not feel his friends to be the world to him, does not deserve that the world should hear of him.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe