What can I say, the last few days have been pretty rough. There has been the odd ‘heated discussion’ around the house, I’ve been feeling rough and thwarted.
There was a moment on Thursday coming over the rail bridge in Lambeg when I felt as light as feather, like everything would be OK and that there is redemption and hope. I had read through the sermon on the Mount and came to the bit where Jesus says that anyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who builds his house upon a rock, a house that won’t be overwhelmed by the storms and flood waters.
For a moment I ‘got it’. I haven’t prayed much over the last number of years and the only two I can usually muster are
1) The Lord’s Prayer
2) For Wisdom
Yes, I’ve prayed for wisdom as much as anything over the last years as I feel overwhelmed by the floodwaters of empires, consumerism, my own sinfulness and inability to to do good, ugliness, fake religion, and on and on.
It felt like God had answered that prayer.
If you want to be wise and not be overwhelmed you need to put into practice what Jesus says. Simple.
After reading the sermon on the mount I felt the storehouse of wisdom had been opened and that I was allowed in.
So Thursday night up over the rail bridge feeling light as a feather (blessed?) whistling ‘We Are Alive’ from the new Bruce Springsteen album.
I suppose the bit I zoomed in on was the bit about not worrying about tomorrow, about what you will eat and drink, or about storing up treasure in heaven. Put those words into practice and you will be wise. Often those words seem to be a like a floaty devotional, wispy and ethereal. Yet they are supposed to be sold, like a foundation that you live.
There are contradictions as well.
One bit say let your good deeds shine before men while another bit says when you give to charity don’t even let your other hand know what you’re up to. One bit says don’t judge other people while another bit says watch out for false prophets who you can judge by the fruit they produce.
But I was so happy on Thursday night that those bits didn’t even frustrate me, I put them down as paraodox and the complexity of life. Light as a feather I was, almost blessed.
Now though, those words seem like dust because in ‘real life’, a life which I often seem to avoid in my internet bubble and idealistic thinking (or false thinking) these words are very hard to put into practice – as Jesus says we should do if we want to be wise.
My youngest brother is getting married next week so here I am in Belfast city centre walking around looking at suits to buy and worrying about it. They’re expensive (even the cheap ones) I don’t want to worry about buying a suit but after conversation with my mum she has got me worried.
‘Have you bought a suit yet?
Have you bought a shirt and tie yet?
Have you bought shoes yet?
Have you got your hair cut yet?
She also wanted to know if I had shaved my beard yet.
Suddenly there are fights about how I always leave everything to the last minute, how I can’t just go with the flow of worrying about what clothes to wear at the wedding months before hand and that I’m awkward( ‘You’re being a tit!).
Which in fairness I probably am, as that does happen on occassion.
A tired and grumpy tit who for reasons he doesn’t altogether understand is walking around worrying about to wear for next week, for a reasons I’m not altogether sure about.
This is a theme that seems to come up again and again, trying to actually do what Jesus commands in real life here in 2012. If you’re unfamiliar with the words here is what Jesus says
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
This is what Jesus says we need to do to be wise. Yet so often in the push and pull of life the words seem impossible to implement, or at least to implement without fights and causing loved ones hurt and pain. If you stick to your guns of not storing up treasure on earth there is the pain that not providing for the future might cause. If you try to wear basic clothes and not spend much on them you are said to be ‘through-other’ or not looking after yourself. If you try to find a job that you think doesn’t take advantage of other people or try to seek first the kingdom of God by forgiving your enemy he does it again or takes advantage of you.
H___ is right, I am a tit. Stubborn and lazy, proud, so proud.
But I can’t help feeling that if you do want to be wise there are some things which you’ll probably get a hammering for. The problem though is knowing if you’re getting a hammering because you’re being a genuine tit or because you’re being persecuted. It’s hard to know when you’ve just got a persecution complex and when you’re just being selfish and self-righteous. It’s hard to know if you’re really doing it for Jesus or because you’re being an arse.