Sunday, April 29, 2007

Another Year Bites the Dust

I'm not sure I have ever been one to enjoy birthdays. Then again, I've never enjoyed being the center of attention. I recently had a birthday (I'm officially in my mid-twenties now), and it's the first one I can remember where I really did feel old. I suppose there are many reasons for that. I have been struggling some lately, trying to figure out what I'm doing in life. I am starting to get a few gray hairs (it unfortunately runs on my mother's side, so by the age of thirty I'll most likely be completely gray-haired). I still don't know what career to go into. Not for sure about that, anyhow. And it just seems like everyone I know is moving on in life, except for me. I feel sort of left behind. I feel old, but at the same time, I feel like some little lost kid, trying to find his way.

I wonder sometimes how Jesus felt about birthdays. I wonder if he ever celebrated them. I'm sure he probably did. But then I wonder how he felt, knowing that with each passing year of his life, he was moving ever closer to the day when he would have to lay down his life, and take upon himself the punishment for all the sins of the world. I wonder if birthdays were a dread for him. There again, I'm sure he put more trust in God, the father, than I do. He knew he'd be okay. I wonder about myself sometimes. I feel like I'm getting older, and I'm continuously going the wrong direction. No, not "wrong direction", but a different direction than what I'd wish or hope for. I wonder what my future has in store for me. Will I ever be at peace with myself? Will I ever be able to have male friends without eventually finding them attractive and letting that get in the way? Will I ever find a career? Will I ever have a family of my own? Will I ever write something really good? Will any of my hopes and dreams ever come true? Or am I to give up now on all of them? God only knows what's in store for me. I want to do God's will. I want to be whatever sort of man he wants me to be. But I find it so hard sometimes, and I find myself so frustrated with myself that I just can't hardly stand it. I wonder if I'm living my life God's way, and doing the things God would want for me to do. Or, in my confusion, or lack of listening to God, am I doing things my way instead.

Some people seem to always be happy about their birthdays. Anymore, I see them as just another day, just one more year gone by. Just one more year in which I still haven't found my way. I wonder if that will ever change. I hope it will. I hope.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

In All the Wrong Places?

Have you ever just wanted to scream out to God, “Lord, are you there!?”

There have been plenty of times in my life when I've felt so discouraged and so alone or upset, that I've just not wanted to communicate with God, period. It seems at times as if I keep praying over and over, and over again, for the same ole things and never see any results. I feel sometimes as if God doesn't listen to me. Which in turn leads me to think he must not care about me, which leads me into even further discouragement and eventual despair. How many of you have ever felt this way? It's an endless cycle sometimes, brought on most usually out of my own impatience, and lack of infinite understanding, which only God has. Who am I to question God, after all? But because of these feelings, I often find myself having trouble praying to God. I just get to thinking,
What's the use? What good will it do for me to pray one more time about something I've already prayed about a thousand times over? I think about where I'd like to be at in life and what I'd like to be doing—who I'd love to be—and I reflect back on so many lost or shattered dreams and hopes I'd one time had. If someone had asked me five years ago, “Who/what/where will you be five years from now”, I would have never imagined my life would be where it is today. Funny sometimes how life gives you those lemons, and you just have to make the best darn lemonade you possibly can out of them.

I realized very recently, while trying to put my life back on track, that I've been looking for my life's answers in all the wrong places. I've sought out family, friends, counselors, my preacher, and others in endless attempts to figure things out for myself. I've relied so very heavily on all of them for support. And it's been so odd to me how when I feel strength from that support, I feel closer to God, but how when I feel let down or discouraged by them, I feel distant to God. I only realized these feelings a few days ago. You see, I'd been having a great deal of trouble finding the will to talk to God, or to read my Bible, or want to go to church, or do any of that. I was stumped trying to figure out why I was having those feelings. I know now, it was because I was reflecting my feelings toward family, friends, my counselor, and my preacher, upon God. I was looking to all of them for answers, which only God could ever give me. When I realized this, I found it rather curious how much easier my relationship with God became, though I'm still not completely over the hurdle.

Sometimes it's so very easy to get off track. It's comfortable, tangible, and easy to rely on others as your God. After all, you can see and hear those around you much more easier than with God. You cannot see God or touch him, and whether or not whom your hearing is God can be very confusing. The one you hear and believe to be God, may a lot of times, simply be your own self-conscience. God can be a tough person to know, but when you do know him, it makes all the difference in the world. God alone can carry you through the toughest of times, no matter what circumstances you're in or what issues you're facing. Whenever I'm down and out, I know I can always turn to God for love, support, and warmth. I can rely on him to satisfy all those wants and desires of my heart. He will never let me down.

Now it's true that my idea of what and how God should respond to me may not always come about as I think it should. It usually doesn't. I know that I need to be more patient with God, and myself. And I know that the only way I'll ever truly figure out all those answers in life is to rely on God. No one else can tell me what God can. He's the best guide a person could ever have.

Now don't get me wrong. Friends, family, and the like can be great means of support. Sometimes you need them just to stay sane. Sometimes God uses them to let you know what he wants for you. But overall, it's God alone who can provide you all you could ever want or need. God is where the answers lie. In God I'll draw my strength, because nowhere else, with no one else, can I find the comfort of hope, peace, grace, understanding, and love that comes overflowing through the greatness of the Lord.

Are you listening, God?”

Brandon, each and every word you speak, every thought you have, every everything about you, I am interested in knowing. I love you, I care about you, and I'll never forsake you. You are one of my children, and no matter what hardships you face, I'll always be there to strengthen and comfort you. Look to me, and I'll never lead you astray. If you truly love me in return, follow me—always. That's all I'll ever ask of you. That's all you'll ever need do."

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Sad Day

Isn't it horrific what happened at Virginia Tech? I hadn't planned on making this the first post on my blog, but I figured it important to bring up. I was recently sent an email, which I feel is very relevent to this topic. It went something like this:

"Some years ago, we were told we came from monkeys. We sat back and accepted that as the truth. Then we were told that there could be no prayer in schools because we didn't want the possibility of someone getting offended by our prayers, which they in no way were forced to participate in. We accepted this. Then someone said we should start experimenting with drugs in order to become enlightened. We accepted this. We were then told that a woman had a right to choose whether or not her unborn child should be allowed to live or die. We accepted this. We were also told that it was okay to divorce. Hey, if you get in a bad situation, flee! We accepted this. From that, we began telling teachers they couldn't discipline students or else it be called physical or emotional abuse. Then someone told us it was okay to begin allowing cuss words on tv, in movies, in plays, in kids shows, etc. We accepted this. Then came explicit sex scenes, and we accepted that as well. Following sex came movies of mass killings by crazed psycho killers wearing razor blades on their fingers and hockey masks on their faces. And we accepted that too.

Now, what is the cost of all this acceptance...

We have kids growing up where they're told they don't have to mind anyone, don't have to follow the rules, are tossed about from one parent (or usually grandparent) to the next, where they're told it's not okay to talk to God unless and only in church, or to believe in God at all, who see no less than fifty killings by the entertainment industry before the age of ten, and who end up doing all sorts of risky things in life, which usually drags them down the right way for disaster, leaving them shallow, callous, disturbed, tormented, full of hate, and empty inside.

And people wonder why our children are so messed up these days?"

It's no wonder to me. We've become a society so turned off to God, where anything goes, and where so few truly care about those around them. We've become self-centered and full of all sorts of horrific and evil acts. Our children see this on a daily basis. They know the dangers that lurk out there. I knew them, sadly, when I was in school. I knew where the drugs could be obtained. I knew where to buy the booze if I wanted it (and I lived in a dry county). I knew full and well how to do all sorts of things, which wouldn't be good for anyone. And so did most others. I knew that at any time, a dangerous person could easily come waltzing into the school with a gun to kill off all of us. It could have happened, and still could, so very easily. It's simply sad beyond belief.

My heart aches for all those involved in the terrible killings that took place in Virginia. I pray for the families of all those involved. And above all, I pray for our nation. It's what we've allowed to enter our lives, our society, which has caused this sort of thing to take place. And out of our indifference to act, it'll only be a matter of time before it unfortunately happens again. God, please help us before it's all too late!