Thursday, February 19, 2009

valentine's day

I want to see miracles, see the world change
Wrestled the angel, for more than a name
For more than a feeling, For more than a cause
I'm singing Spirit take me up in arms with You
And You're raising the dead in me
Twenty four voices, With twenty four hearts
With all of my symphonies, In twenty four parts.
I'm not copping out. Not copping out. Not copping out.
 We want more than this world's got to offer
we want more than the wars of our fathers
Everything inside
screams for second life
we were meant to live for so much more
we lost ourselves

There's this book, Bruchko, by Bruce Olson. It used to be called For This Cross I'll Kill You. He tells the story of himself, starting back when he was an angry, uncoordinated, dorky thirteen year old afraid of the Lutheran God of judgment he knew reading the Bible one evening:

Then I came across a verse that shocked me and sent electricity jingling through my body. I sat up and read it again: "For the son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." I knew God's justice, that He would judge me on the basis of my impurities – but here was a verse saying that Jesus had come to save the lost…I felt drawn to try and speak to Christ…It was a simple talk, but it was the first I had ever really had with Him…"Oh, Jesus…I want peace and fulfillment…I want to be delivered from all my fears…" At that moment I felt a presence…."Lord, I'm frightened by You…Everything is messed up around me. And it's messed up in me, too. But, please, God, I want to change…Make me new." And then I knew that I was being saved." (26-27)

When he was 19 he went to Venezuela on his own, with no missionary organization and no support. He would almost die or be killed several times. He went into the jungle, and the first thing he did was get lost. But eventually he would find a brother in a young man several years younger than him he called Bobby, and the tribe found the God that their legends told they had lost when they were deceived and went down the wrong trail, they found the God that walked those same trails as they did when he came to earth and died for them. And they put their faith in them, or in their language, they tied their hammock strings into Christ and were suspended in God.

Later, they're translating the Bible and for in Philippians how it has the verb for being conformed to Christ, even his suffering or his death. Bobby chose a new verb tense they had made, something already done, yet lying in the future. He writes, "I had brought Jesus to the Motilones, yes; but was I ready to bring them this kind of conformity – conformity to the death of Christ?"

Bobby made the decision to use this future yet present word for conformity to Christ even in his suffering and death, at a time that the entire life of the tribe was threatened by settlers. Three weeks later he was killed by settlers who had warned, "I will kill you for this cross." His wife said "Jesus Christ died for all the tribes of the world. Bobby is almost like Him. He died for the Motilones." (194)
That peace, that suspension, what else does anybody want to know? I spent Valentine's Day with three other students reading the Word to each other, talking about God's love for us and in us and through us. And it was the most natural thing, to talk about Christ the Lover pursuing us his Beloved. And I don't know why I'd ever spend Valentine's Day in another way. Or any day. Oh, and I got a kiss. Chocolate. Sweet. Literally.

We talked about conflict yesterday in class. Readings on Northern Uganda, on Sudan, on what about Africa makes violence so overwhelming. It reminded me of this cartogram I found many moons ago, of War Deaths in 2002. Check the link and look at War Expenditures. It'll give you some food for thought. At lunch we were still talking about class. Talking about people dying from starvation and being killed and living lives of fear and desperation and hopelessness. And we were crying. One of my friends, I love her, was so upset. "Why ME? Why am I so blessed that I can eat food three times a day, and meanwhile they're DYING?"

Some questions you just have to sit in for awhile. Questions like we discussed in our Simple Living discussion about only asking for our daily bread and nothing more.
But you know that peace I was talking about? I still have it. Today's one of those rare days I'm not wearing my peace cap, but I still have it. I don't' know the answer yet. I don't' know how to figure out how Christ is real if we have to always put the word church in quotations. But for some reason, that love, even if it's missing here, I believe in it, I believe it and it brings peace. Other days I know I won't have it. But still. I believe.

I was sick last night, like bye bye food. But I'm okay today. When I was feeling less okay, though, for sure it sucked, but I didn't want it to stop me from life. Or from loving others. Michelle hasn't been able to eat for over a week, and yet she has the energy every day to get up and go to school and play with our beautiful little neighbor friend Lilyanna.

One other thing about Christ's love. It's getting so much bigger in my life that I have less and less patience for things that aren't it. Theology-wise, like, I don't want to talk about Christianity anymore, I just want to talk about Christ. His love. That's it. And yet you can't quite do that. Yesterday I was talking with Michelle about the war in Iraq and about Islam and Muslims and are other religions demonic or simply responding to the amount of light they've been given. And I don't know. About any of it. But all I know right now really well is Christ's love. That sounds really hippy. But it's not, I swear. It's real, it's genuine, it's Christ and it's the cross.

And maybe the settlers thought Christ only died for their tribe and were willing to kill for that cross, but Bobby knew that Christ died for all tribes and was willing to die for that cross. People seem to be so willing to take a life rather than give their own. Myself included. A friend I care about a lot made me realize the other day that I'm really quite the hypocrite. It was good. I hope that friend reads this. I know I'm a hypocrite. But Christ. And maybe that friend can't accept but Christ, but I think they might get a love that dies for the one that kills the one that dies.

I'm not that love. I wish I was.

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