Living and Active

it’s so weird how everything is changing for me now. And there are so many verses that I stumbled across in the Bible over the last 35 years or so that never made a lot of sense. It was more like I came to them with a preconceived idea, and then I tried to wrestle them into that box. That actually describes a lot of my early Christianity.

And my later Christianity, unfortunately.

And right now I’m listening to Sophie’s world – it’s a book about philosophy and it’s kind of told in a really cool way,it’s sort of like a modern parable. But a super long one.

anyway, as I’m listening to these early philosophers’ viewpoints as told through the mystery tutor in the book, I’m hearing all of these things that are true. Not completely true but like facets of the same diamond. And as I was out for my evening ride tonight just listening to the book as I rode I realize that God has always been trying to talk to us. Each of these philosophers was stumbling on – or at least wrestling with – different facets of the truth. And of course, like all of us, all they had to work with was what they had been given. And there’s almost like this evolution of thought and perspective as you move forward through the different philosophers.

I absolutely believe that Jesus is the truth. There is just no question about that in my mind. I don’t have an argument for you, I’m not going to try to convince you, I’m not even positive that that’s necessary anymore. (At one point in my life I thought it was the only necessity in life). I definitely believe that Jesus revealed the fullness of God. I definitely believe that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. I definitely believe that the Bible is the word of God.

But I also believe that a child’s laugh is the word of God. I believe that physics is the word of God. I believe that everybody who seeks peace and humility and wisdom seeks the face of God. And God is so incredibly full of grace, that he allows himself to be seen and whichever form we need to see him. This is not universalism in the sense that I’m saying that all truths are equal. This is lifting God up and saying that all of our glimpses of the truth point to the real thing – Jesus. God personified. Love personified. Wisdom and peace and holiness and gentleness personified. The fruit of the spirit personified. Simultaneously the lamb and the lion. Simultaneously a strong father we can stand behind, and a perfect husband we can proudly stand beside. (Being the bride is still weird to me.)

My life is so weird right now. It is so much different than it ever was. I used to think I loved God and believed the truth, but I felt worthless and crappy and dirty, and I didn’t believe that God loved me. If God doesn’t love you more than you can possibly understand, and he doesn’t also love all of your friends (especially the annoying ones) and all of your enemies (especially the horrible ones) – you got the wrong God. You got a God of your own making.

I can already hear my former self arguing with these self-evident truths – trying to make myself separate, trying to make myself special and unique and set apart from the others around me. But there’s no way to feel that way and embrace the Scripture. The Bible seems wildly contradictory when you really face it. But I would argue that it’s beautifully paradoxical instead. And that when you really get it… Everything the used to confuse you about the Bible kinda folds together. The contradictions cooperate rather than clash.

This must be the new minded talked about. The scales must’ve just fallen off my eyes. I want to write so much more consistently and publicly that I am – but there’s always fear around it. I know exactly what my apologetics loving evangelical former self would be saying and it makes me wonder if I’m really right about all of this.

But I know without a shadow of a doubt that I finally get it – and the verse that never felt really true feels totally true right now.

When you know the truth – it set you free.

Meditation and Thinking

all thinking is a construct – a projection. The internal dialogue itself is imagining a conversation that will never take place. When we say were thinking, it’s almost always imagining ourselves interacting with the result of our thoughts in the future.

even now as I’m writing this – I’m imagining myself reading it tomorrow and wondering if it makes sense. My current thoughts are wondering what my future self will think about this letter. Will it make sense? Is the grammar right? To think about how to form the words in our thoughts, we must imagine ourselves reading what we are writing.

Craftsmen also do this. A sculptor isn’t “thinking”about what they are doing now… There imagining what the statue will look like as they strike the chisel now. And even striking the chisel now is based on every former strike and how the marble of similar shape split and averaging those former experiences together. It’s a memory and fantasy.

And you don’t need drugs to see this this is what it means to be awake. Being awake is recognizing you never were even aware that there was a present to be in. And when you meditate and just get aware of your actual thoughts instead of thinking about how your future self (the fake self that is a dream of the future) will read this… You are present in the present!

You’re not in the future or in an imaginary person’s head, hearing your words, looking at the statue, writing the surfboard you’re shaping, or playing the game your coding. But most of our thoughts are imagining what the future would be like if we took the current course of action. Very rarely do we stop to ask the question, “what is happening right now?”

Thinking is fun, and necessary, and addictive, and unavoidable, but you can take a break from it if you want to. If you don’t control your thoughts – they control you. This is the state that most of us are perpetually living in. If I’m honest, I think I’ve only been fully present 10 or 15 times in my life. This is new for me – but I can finally see it.

God is the “I am” (the now, the present) because his thoughts are not our thoughts… He is perfectly aware and awake! Meditation is medication – it is awareness and being present, just like God. And we we are in the present like God is, we can actually meet him as he is – rather than as the imaginary results of our current thoughts or actions. We don’t try to impress him, we don’t try to avoid him, we simply experience and enjoy him. This is what it means to be present with the Lord.

Meditation is simply being awake and aware. It lets you control your thoughts and simply relax your brain. This is why people use drugs, or by fancy houses, or tried to “win”, or seek to be loved… They think they will finally get to rest if they can just achieve the thing they are chasing.

But you can rest right now. It is free – and it is within you. It was placed there by God himself.

Meditate. It is everything you are after. Calm your mind. Stop it with the silly ambitions and fantasies. Stop it with the stupid regrets and bitterness. Be present.

The Lord our God is one. He is present. He  is the truth (that sets you free from your chattering mind.) he is the truth because he is literally the truth. He is truth personified. He is the present now, not your thoughts – the mind you can’t quiet. Quiet your mind and you will see him face-to-face in the present – here and now.

Jesus is the life because you’re not in the dream. You’re finally living right now and aware of the fact that you are alive – and not asleep – not distracted with your thoughts but just present and alive. Most of us move through life constantly dreaming about what would happen if we did this, or how things would be if we never did that, or who we might be if it weren’t for so-and-so. This is all a useless waste of time. We have no idea what it would be like or what it could be like because very rarely have we ever actually been.

all sin is sin because it keeps you trapped in the mind – “I’m going to do X because later it will make me feel like Y…”. this is the trap. This is what sin does – it makes you focus on a past that never happened, or future that never will. You focus on your desires more than your reality. It literally is a lie.

Let’s take a look at how this works out in some of our favorite sins:

  • greed – “if I have this, then imagine how people will look at me and go wow…”
  • Vanity/ambition/pride – all of these are imagining or remembering how you think you will feel in your imagined future, or how you used to feel or would have felt in the past. You looking forward to a future that will never happen, or looking back into a past you cannot return to. And it keeps you from doing anything in the present.
  • Vengeance –  “one day I’ll make you feel pain” but you can stop feeling the pain right now by simply being present and accepting the truth.
  • Murder – “if I kill you, I’ll feel this way later” but you can never anticipate all the feelings you will have because our imaginings rarely turn out the way we expect them to.

sin is deceitful because it has you stuck in the past that you cannot change or influence, or stuck in a future that will never happen. Sin is simply not being present – it’s being asleep – thinking that “I’ll feel better tomorrow if I do this today…” But it rarely turns out the way you imagine it will.

Sin always over promises and under delivers because sin is simply your imagination. Be awake and present and you might find you have already obtained all you ever wanted or needed. Be still and know that he is God. Then you will know the truth. You will know Jesus, God himself. He represents the truth in your imagined future – if you can take the time to stop and be present with him today.

Thinking is just imagining. Einstein said “imagination is more important than knowledge.” This is true because “knowledge” is just thinking somebody else’s thoughts again, or remembering your own thoughts again. Knowledge itself is a brain bulimia – you’re bringing up the things you’ve already digested but not thinking about how to get closer to the reality that is the core of the thing you’re thinking about.

Imagination is making a “image” of something new. It’s reassembling your experiences together in a new way, a new combination of all your past experiences of the present.

Getting stuck in your knowing – being “right” – is refusing to be present and imagining your former thoughts again. “Knowing” is the opposite of thinking – it is simply the act of remembering your former construct. And if you weren’t present and aware when you had the original thought – you are dwelling on something fake, something you simply imagined, something you once dreamt about and simply want to dream about again.

Wake up O sleeper. Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you…

In the present.