Peripherals

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I know I am a little late with New Years resolutions but this year has already taken me to London, Istanbul and the emergency ward. The good thing about traveling is perspective and an important thing about illness can be enforced silence. All of this brings me to a New Years resolution that started germinating In Divorce Care.

One of the classes was on forgiveness. On the face of it, it would seem that the hardest part of a divorce is forgiving the other party. I had put a check mark besides that one as my goal was to move on with my life and to give as little energy as possible to fighting a battle where the treaty was already signed.

While in Istanbul the weather altered between snow and freezing rain. I’d watch as it would pour down on the narrow streets and what most held my attention was the persistence of the street vendors. There was every item imaginable for daily living. Even in the cold the life of the city, unlike in Canada, is primarily lived  outside in the side streets and alleys. I realized that the life of the heart is also caught up in the small daily purchases and encounters we have in the side streets.

Like so much of Christianity it is easier to deal with the big issues. Would you renounce Christ if a gun were pointed at your head? No, we proclaim. We would be heroes, but our lives aren’t made up of those moments. In forgiveness in my divorce it was one thing to say I forgive him but the truth is that forgiveness is a lot harder when it comes to all the other people who had a hand in the demise of my marriage and involvement during the divorce. By ignoring the side streets I had hidden resentments in the shadows. For a real forgiveness to take place I needed to inventory my feelings about these people and events. The problem was I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to relive the pain, and anger and hurt. Who turned their backs and said hurtful things? Who said nothing at all? etc. I wanted it all to be done. I wanted to make one grand gesture and be done with it. I didn’t want to live in the process of forgiveness.

Honestly I still don’t want to do this as it leaves me tired and sad but to really be free I need to search out the peripherals, the real places I have lived and bled so that I can mourn all the other losses and move forward in truth.

Wishing you all a New Year that is more than cliches and richer in joy than you ever dreamed, Sincerely, D.

re-post: The Danger of Making Your Experiences Fit Reality by Brad Sumner

The Danger of Making Your Experiences Fit Reality

I love the book of Job.  To me, part of the fun in reading it is assessing what part of the various speeches are true and square with God’s picture of reality and what parts are vain or idle words (of which all parties are guilty at points).  That’s why Job 21 is so intriguing to me.  Job’s friends have spent the better part of their speeches to date building a case that the wicked do not proposer and that everything they have will be riped painfully from them as God’s judgement on their behaviour.

But good ol’ Job looks around and notes that this isn’t usually true. He notes that the wicked “spend their days in prosperity, then go down to the grave in peace. And yet they say to God, ‘Go away. We want no part of you and your ways. Who is the Almighty, and why should we obey him? What good will it do us to pray?’” (Job 21:13-15).  Job’s assessment of the situation seems Prosperity-gospel-motivation1fairly realistic and level-headed to me.  People with no regard for God, both then and now, often do fine at business, parenting, finance, marriage and life in general.  The rain falls on the just and the unjust.  The prosperity gospel is alive and well.

But poor Job’s friends can’t resist an opportunity to moralize, so they do something that is all to common then and now: they find selective stories that fit their worldview and they pontificate and over-spiritualize them ad nausea.  What they fail to realize, however, is that their selectivity doesn’t square with the overall data of experience.  Job reminds them “Look, I know what you’re thinking. I know the schemes you plot against me. You will tell me of rich and wicked people whose houses have vanished because of their sins. But ask those who have been around, and they will tell you the truth. Evil people are spared in times of calamity and are allowed to escape disaster. No one criticizes them openly or pays them back for what they have done.” (21:27-31).   His friends have conveniently ignored any examples that don’t fit their worldview or make their point effectively.

So next time you go to tell as story as an illustration of a point you are making, you might want to ask yourself if you have a sneaky habit of finding and sharing only blogs or tweets or experiences that agree with your pre-formed opinions. Or do you genuinely allow the aggregate and long-term data around the issue to speak for itself?  If you don’t you might be making your experiences into a reality that doesn’t exist!

Brad Sumner is the head pastor at Jericho Ridge Community Church in Langley BC. He has an amazing ability to open up the bible and challenge your everyday thinking.  This is a re-post of his latest entry on his blog Leadership Confessions on TypePad.  http://leadershipconfessions.typepad.com/leadership_confessions/

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