Sunday, October 27, 2013

Duck Dynasty (and Why This Country Needs Jesus)

Even though it has been on for a few seasons now, I didn't discover the show Duck Dynasty until sometime around this last spring.  I'd heard people talk about what a funny show it was, and tell me how much I ought to watch it.  But from the talk, I wasn't too awfully impressed; I just didn't think it would interest me any to see a bunch of southern rednecks and their shenanigans.

I wound up watching several episodes though as they came on after another show I was watching one night.  I decided to watch just to see what all the hoopla was about.

I can't remember which episode I watched first, but something that struck me was the ending.  The whole family gathered at a single table to eat, and said a prayer.  I remember feeling really warm and close to God in that moment.  And I loved seeing a REAL family come together like that and to offer thanks and praise to God.  That's just not something you'll find that much of on television these days.  But I liked it.  And the more episodes I watched, the more I liked the show, and the more I liked the Robertson family.

Since that time, I have continued to watch their show, and I have even read from some of their books.  They just recently put out a devotional book that is exceptionally good, if you are interested.  In all of it, though, I find God as a theme.  I see this family that has such a strong connection to God, who genuinely love God, and try to do right by Him.  I love seeing this.  And I know it has helped me in my own walk with God as well.

A few nights ago, my brother told me he'd come across a video of Phil Robertson (the patriarch of the family), preaching somewhere in California.  He showed me the video, and I was even further impressed.  Not at the man though, but by the fact that God could use someone like Phil Robertson to preach His word, and to do so much to help so many others.

I included that video above.  I'm not going to tell you what's in it.  I just want you to watch it.  He gives such a powerful sermon, and it seemed to me so completely relevant to our times/needs as a country.

I wonder if anyone would have ever guessed that a wild young boy, who gets married in his teens, drinks and rough houses for years, doesn't believe in God, treats his wife like crap, and neglects his children could have ever come so far in the Lord to become the man that he is today.  I like watching Duck Dynasty if for no other reason than to gain that reminder that through God, all things are possible.  Poor can become rich; atheists can become Godly, sinners can give up their sins, and so on.  What I like most, though, is seeing how a family can come together through anything, still in God, and still in love for each other.  Sorry to give it away, but that is pretty much how every episode ends.

I thank God for spreading His word through the Robertson family.  And I thank that family for being so willing to allow God to do so.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


My mom recently told me she thought I was holding myself back. She thought I was adding too many restrictions to myself—that I won’t do this thing for this reason or that thing for that reason, etc—and not taking enough risks. I know the reason she said this was mostly because she wants me to be able to find a better job and to have more opportunities to do things. I have to admit that I felt somewhat bothered by what she said though.

I know it is true that in some ways I have actually held myself back. I think I’ve had some really good reasons in doing so, but I also know that holding myself back is not entirely the reason why I haven’t moved along in life as much I should have, or would have wanted or liked to, by now. I have taken many risks and stepped way beyond my comfort zone many a time. But I have also come up against personal politics, a lack of job openings, and in some circumstances, my own ignorance. My circumstances, to some extent, have just been largely out of my control. I haven’t liked this. I’ve hated it, I’ve prayed relentlessly about it, I’ve worried about it, I’ve asked for advice, I’ve taken advice, I’ve tried to learn from past mistakes, and I honestly feel like I’ve tried my best with all of it. It just hasn’t been good enough though.

When Mom said what she did, it just made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. With what she said, along with a few other things that has happened in the last few months, I feel like she blames me for not being further along. When it comes to holding myself back, yes, I will admit that in some ways I have. I don’t want to move a hundred miles away or to another state. I like where I live. Besides that, I absolutely hate the thought of being away from my family like that. I know I don’t have enough courage to be so completely on my own, so far away from family and friends. Keeping those things in mind, I have held myself back some.

I tried explaining some of this to Mom. She understands, but not fully. She’s never really liked living around here, so she just thinks I’m nuts for actually liking it. She told me she thought I was lucky (Me? Lucky? I couldn’t wait to hear her thoughts on this). She said I was lucky because I didn’t have any attachments. I don’t have a wife, I don’t have any kids, I don’t have family right now that just has to have me around, I’m not in school anymore, I’m not indebted in any way to anyone or anything that would keep me from moving… all in all, I’m free to go where I please and do as I wish.

I’ve thought about all of this a lot. I know my Mom is right. I do have that sort of freedom right now. But in knowing this, I can’t help feeling somewhat sad about it and in some ways not wanting it. I honestly thought I was needed more, and it kind of sucks to find out that apparently others don’t think so. And that just makes me feel so unappreciated for the things I have done for them. I know this isn’t what my Mom wanted me to feel, but it does make me question just how close we really are, and how close I might be to others.

I know what my goals are, what my dreams are, where I eventually want to wind up, and I do believe I am on course for getting where I want to be in life. But it is slow going. And it is easy to want to give up. The trick is to not give up though. I believe the worst thing I could do right now is to just run off any ole place just to get a quick fix. It wouldn’t be a fix. It would just be some short term solution, throwing me off course, and causing me more problems than not.

I know my Mom wants good things for me, and I know she is tired of seeing me try for something that is so slow achieving (and it has been tough), but in this one regard I do believe she is wrong about what I should do. I honestly do believe that if I just keep building up, keep working hard, and keep having faith and patience to get where I’d like to go, I will eventually get there. And that option will be so much better for me and for others around me than taking some short term quick fix.

Having said that, I do feel tired though. I know I’m not doing certain things right, and I’m not just talking about in trying to find a job. The thing is, I really haven’t wanted to care about a lot of things that I know I should care more about. I’m tired of caring. And I know how horrible that sounds, but it is the truth. I’m so tired I just don’t want to care. In this, I know I need God’s strength. But it goes much further than that. I just don’t feel right.

I keep trying not to think too far ahead, but to rather take one day at a time. In this, I know I need God’s hope. I know that’s something I’ve not felt much of lately: hopefulness.

And I know I’m having a hard time dealing with loss. In the last few years, I’ve lost a lot of things. Things I cherished in my childhood, things that shaped how I think and feel about myself, dreams and goals for my future… my grandma. I miss my grandma terribly. She was such an important part of my life. She lived across from me almost my entire life. I was so used to seeing her and being around her. Now that she’s gone, a part of my life just seems empty. I feel like a part of me was torn away. I feel that way really in all the things I’ve lost.

And I hate getting older. I’ve never liked the thought of it. I don’t want to lose people. I don’t want to see one dream after the next come crashing to an end. I don’t want to see and feel my body age.

I turned 30 this last spring. I think it shows on my face. I do look older, more worn, less energetic. My hair keeps getting grayer, my eyes tired, my joints more sore. It terrifies me, the thought of getting older. Even worse, however, is the thought that I will not live to be very old. I have always had a very strong feeling that I won’t live a long life. This, to some extent, is an even more terrifying thought, because it makes what time I do have seem all the more urgent. And I feel as though I’ve wasted, intentionally and unintentionally, a lot of that time. At this point, I had hoped to be so much further along than I am. All combined, however, either outcome makes me somewhat panicked feeling about my future.

“And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life's span?” – Luke 12:25

I think about this verse a lot. I know I’m worrying too much. In this, again, I know I need God’s strength and hope. I need faith, too, that everything, regardless of outcome, will be as it should in the end.

How much longer must I wait though? How much longer before I can begin living as I’d like to live? Will that day ever come? If not, then what? How do I accept my life being something I don’t like?  I find all of these questions beyond my answer, but ones that carry so much weight.

My mom may be right. Maybe I do hold myself back too much, and maybe I don’t have any attachments. But that’s not what I want, or how I wish it was. Regardless of any faults I might have, this is not where I’d hoped to be in life. This is not how I had hoped my life would be. And yet, even in that thought do I find conflict, realizing that maybe what I want really isn’t in some way what is best for me. Again, how do I come to accept this? When will God ever lay this upon my heart, if it is true?

Perhaps what I really need to do right now, more than anything, is to try to learn how to be better content with the present. God, I know I need your help though.