Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Chesterton’

I’ve been thinking a lot about simplicity coupled with radical faith.  Priests sometimes take a vow of poverty, renouncing worldly goods as Jesus suggested to the rich young man, “Sell all your goods and give the money to the poor.”  Since the last day of camp I’ve been thinking of the usual pattern of getting back into the routine of life, or adjusting to the real world.  I think that God doesn’t want me to get back into my life.  He wants my life to adjust to me and the changes He’s made.  This week at church was Vacation Bible School, and before each night our pastor gave a devotional to the volunteers.  The one I managed to make was about being doers of the word, not hearers only.  So Jesus says not to worry about what we will eat or wear, to take up our cross and follow Him.  He says blessed are those who suffer for His sake.  What if I was an actual doer of those words?  How seriously do I take the words, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend”? 

 

So God has called me, at last, to change.  My life has been essentially the same for six years.  Now I’m going to do something different – a lot of things different.  I’m a different person; I even eat spaghetti and drink tea.  But I don’t know exactly what He wants me to do yet.  I’m looking, trying to accept that faith is a moment by moment dependence on Him, not a leap into a well-understood long term plan.  What I do know is that I need to spend diligent time seeking Him about it: praying and reading the Bible and asking friends to counsel and pray for me. 

 

I think a lot about Abraham.  He’s the man who packed up and left Ur, where he’d lived about seventy years with all his family.  He left everything and didn’t even know where he was going, except that God would show him the place.  Well, he brought his flocks and herds, his wife and slaves, and even his extended family. 

 

If I literally followed Abraham’s example, though, America is not very receptive.  Abraham could travel through the land, pitch his tents where no one else’s were, feed his sheep on the grass there, and probably do a bit of hunting for his household as well.  In America there are things like licenses, fences, and laws.  I don’t have to worry too much about being attacked by a band of thieves or a local city-state’s hyper-vigilant army, but then I must submit to laws. 

 

We actually have some very strange laws.  If you are too poor to own or even rent a house, there is no public land on which you are really allowed to camp, not public land on which you can trap or hunt your dinner.  In fact if you are too poor to have a house, you can be arrested.  GK Chesterton says in his commentary on Matthew 8:20, “For our law has in it a turn of humour or touch of fancy which Nero and Herod never happened to think of, that of actually punishing homeless people for not sleeping at home.” 

 

But Psalm 84:5 says, “Blessed is the man… whose heart is set on pilgrimage.” What does that look like in my life?  How can I obey that today? 

 

At least I can shun things that are part of my normal life but not “of faith.”  I can pursue the things God describes: righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.  Jars of Clay’s Oh My God describes one side of this calling, the side that sorrows for the world and sees all the need and brokenness.  In their account of how the song came to be, Jars of Clay says, “It takes a long time to kill 5,000 people in a church. Think about being in there with your family as these murders get closer and closer, and to hear the screams.  I’m sure those people weren’t praying, “God, please help me have a better car, or please increase my land.” It was, “God, please stop the hand of our aggressor,” and it didn’t happen. That prayer wasn’t answered for anybody in that church. And this wasn’t the military doing this violence; it was their neighbors.”   

One of the verses everyone memorized at camp was Romans 8:38-39 (and we talked about verse 35 as well).  There are 17 things listed in those verses that cannot separate us from the love of God, things like famine and plague and persecution, death, demons, etc.  And it hit me that I was doubting God’s love not for any of those massive earth-shattering things like 5,000 people murdered in a church in Rwanda.  My doubt of God’s love for me was when He didn’t give me what I wanted.  When my focus is on God’s amazing love, love that even death and things to come cannot quench, the way I pray and the way I live is different. 

My brother went to Mexico this month.  He was gone for two weeks.  In Mexico people live simply.  Where he went kids raise themselves, and there is trouble and need – so I’m not saying it’s ideal.  But when there is so much need in the world, physical or spiritual, how can we come home and play video games or go shopping at the mall?  Another friend spent over a month this summer volunteering at an orphanage in Haiti.  Her love for God grew so much there as she was stripped of distractions and dependent on Him for the strength to love and serve others.  Her kids needed what even she could not give them. 

Some fellow counselors from camp talked about getting back into the real world by buying a new Guitar Hero game.  How can we leave camp so unaffected?  Do we really have to move to Haiti to live sold out to God? 

We’re willing to work.  At camp, in Mexico and Haiti, we didn’t just sit around and think spiritual thoughts.  And we don’t want to be cloistered away from all non-Christians; that isn’t the point, either.  Just we don’t want our ministry to be a section of our lives.  We want to sell everything else and make sure that our whole lives are about glorifying God.  I don’t just want to have my ministries, of VBS or Awana or Sunday school or youth group.  I believe God wants me to invest my life in a lot of people, and not necessarily be a one-note person (at least not at the moment), but there shouldn’t be ministry intermissions.  Everything I do should be about my relationship with God, whether it is taking time (as we did at camp) to refresh and refocus our spirits by prayer and Bible reading, or worship, or intentional fellowship for edification. 

I guess I’m saying that having a job isn’t wrong.  My job isn’t even bad.  In the job I have I could do the things I said, and continue a ministry focus without interruption.  Those of us in the world with normal jobs can be what another friend calls laborers, people who don’t see ministry as a vocation, but as an approach to life as they go, building the kingdom whether they’re paid or not.  But for me God is calling me to a different sort of job right now.  I’m looking for one.  Requirements are that it be something in which I can move, not just sit at a desk, one where I’m working in community with others, preferably Christians, and where our business or ministry is reaching out to the needs of the world.  Any suggestions? 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

Read Full Post »

I recently read GK Chesterton’s first novel, Napoleon of Notting Hill.  It was a quick read, interesting and fast-paced.  It follows the life and career of the most unique humorist of England, one Auberon Quin, who was elected by lottery the king of England according to the consummate democracy of his fictional future government.  Auberon enjoys making people confounded and annoyed, by being himself completely ridiculous.  I have a feeling that this would be an even less popular course in England than in America. 

 

Inspired on a fine evening by a little boy with a wooden sword defending the street of his childhood, King Auberon revives patriotism by designing a heraldry and history of each neighborhood and suburb of London.  What he did not anticipate is that, aside from entertaining his whim by appearing before him in uniform, anyone would take him seriously.  When Adam Wayne refuses to allow his beloved Pump Street on Notting Hill to be demolished in deference to a highway, he brings his sword to the king and informs his majesty that blood makes all ordinary things and landscapes sacred, and he will risk his own blood to defend his homeland (or city block). 

 

The neighboring businessman and politicians do not take Notting Hill seriously.  They don’t take anything seriously, though they are very grim themselves.  Read this book for laughter, thought, and inspiration.  You’ll never look at your grocery store the same way again. 

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

Read Full Post »

I finished a couple books that I haven’t reviewed yet.  One was by G.K. Chesterton, a genius who despised Protestants without ever really disagreeing with them.  Ok, but that’s not why I was reading him.  He wrote about marriage, home, and family, with great common sense.  Sometimes we say insight, and we mean something little.  I want to say prophetic in that intangible, surreal sense, but that’s strange.  He got into an issue and saw outside of it so that he could make points that should be so obvious, but none of the rest of us could see because we were busy arguing the points the wrong people were making to distract us from our strongest case.  So that was good, and beautiful, and challenging. 
 
Side note here to transition into the next book review.  I love reading books because they inspire me, make me think, or challenge me.  Books, unlike the majority of people I know, will tell me what I’m doing wrong and what I ought to do.  This is why I read books about relationships.  Maybe I’ll be burned by thinking I have all the answers, but in the mean time it makes me want to live a life preparing for the ideal romance and marriage – if I could just figure out what ideal was.  And for the moment, I have no firm idea of what an ideal man looks like to me either.  I think I have to meet him.  It’s like The Witch of Blackbird Pond says: Kit had to stop planning and start waiting.  The reason was, she would find out, a lot of these details are not a lady’s to figure, but the gentleman’s.  Letting other people make the decisions when they affect you is hard, but relaxing.  I did a lot of that this week. 
 
So I did just finish The Witch of Blackbird Pond, making a whole two books I’ve read with “Witch” in the title.  The first was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, a book that my mom probably first read to me, and then I read it.  When your mom gives you a book as a kid, you think there could be nothing wrong with it.  That’s a good reason for rereading books when you’re smarter.  (So many people like CS Lewis, but his theology wasn’t always biblical; he never bothered to study the Bible, I think.)  Anyway, I would never have picked up this book either, but for a friend recommending it and saying how real the characters were.  It came from my library’s young adult section, which I think is sad because adults are not encouraged to read these really good books that would do them more good than they do kids.  It was short, though, so it would have looked strange next to the three hundred page hardbacks in the adult section. 
 
I’d say the book is about making choices, and the freedom that comes from doing the right thing even when you don’t understand what’s going on.  And it has to do with contentment and waiting and hard work.  I see my friend, who recommended the book, in the pages.  It’s the kind of thing she would like and live – and the kind of thing I would like and try to live. 
 
So some people think I’m perfect.  I don’t know what I have to do to convince them I’m not.  What’s more, they think I’ll despise them for their weaknesses or desires.  All my life I’ve determined not to forget who I was and what it was like to be younger.  For example, I remember how very serious everything was in my life, and how sure I was of my ideas, and even now it isn’t so much that I was wrong as that I didn’t see the whole picture.  I desperately wanted someone to help me out with the big picture, but I guess not enough because I wouldn’t ask anyone.  This to say that I wanted to remember feeling those things so that I could relate to young people.  And I never wondered how I would clue kids in that I knew: that I hadn’t forgotten, that even though I’m not entirely normal, I had some of the universal experiences. 
 
I think of some of my friends not so much as perfect, but as good.  They love Jesus and they are willing to make right choices – the kind that don’t radically mess up their lives – but they struggle with the choices, and sometimes fail.  My friend who likes Blackbird Pond is one of those.  And now that I think about it, that’s probably one of the things I’m looking for in the man I’ll marry: that he’ll be good (but as Anne says, with the capability of wickedness which he denies) but struggle, and sometimes fail.  I’ve never loved a person before I knew some of their faults.  Weird, huh? 
 
So even novels I read, even the romantic ones that send me to long drives talking to God about waiting and “Where is he?” – are challenging.  Because The Witch of Blackbird Pond was about waiting and serving and looking at what is and what I can do instead of what might be or isn’t and what I can’t do (yet), and because it came packaged in a daydreamy story, I’m inspired.  Now if only I wasn’t so exhausted from a trip across two time zones… 
 
And the number one question on my mind is what to read next.  Seriously, I have a stack.  But I didn’t have to tell you that again, did I? 
 
Hey – in case you’re one of those people who thinks I’m perfect, I’m going to confess.  Maybe I should have confession Fridays or something.  = )  How’s that for a blog series?  Anyway, we were at the beach and I was feeling dreadful, but our group was taking pictures, and as I threw down my hat and jacket on the sand, I exclaimed that I had no idea how I looked, and asked a dear friend if I looked beautiful.  The other night she’d told me I did when I, a reflection recently refreshed in my memory, did not think so.  But honestly.  How immodest.  To beg for flattery even just privately from her would have been wrong.  In front of everyone?  Arg.  Not perfect.  Proud.  Vain.  Immodest.  Quick-tongued.  Self-focused.  Didn’t do personal devotions all week either.  I thought it was ok, and it was in an anti-legalist sense, but I think it would have helped to hear from Jesus. 
 
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

Read Full Post »

I couldn’t have said it better myself: 

I’ve been reading GK Chesterton today.  This is only a sample.  Read the full essays. 

“There is only one way to preserve in the world that high levity and that more leisurely outlook which fulfils the old vision of universalism. That is, to permit the existence of a partly protected half of humanity; a half which the harassing industrial demand troubles indeed, but only troubles indirectly. In other words, there must be in every center of humanity one human being upon a larger plan; one who does not “give her best,” but gives her all.” – The Emancipation of Domesticity by G.K. Chesterton

Read Chapter IX of All I Survey: On Dependence and Independence.  “Thus, in the present case, we could at least settle down to discussing serious the Independence of Woman, if it were regarded by anybody as part of a real philosophy of the Independence of Man.  What we find, as in the case mentioned, is that one woman has made one claim to one curious and rather capricious form of independence.  She is independent of the breadwinner, but not of the bank or the employer – not to mention the moneylender.” 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

Read Full Post »