April 28, 2012

“Look, and Look Down!”

It is by no means perfect, but here is my interpretative message on Isaiah 63:7-64:12. This was the culmination of my second exegetical project for my class on the book of Isaiah. I'd like to continue to study this passage and perhaps, eventually, I'll make some revisions; because I'm sure they're needed (while reading this to my class I realized that somehow the word "purposes" had become "porpoises." Thus, in the middle of my sentence read, "God's porpoises," not "God's purposes." Greaaat...).

April 26, 2012

Dave the Dishwasher

This past weekend I went to San Francisco. It was our Senior Trip and the main item to be experienced, at least for me and a few others, was Muir Woods National Monument—though this post has little to actually do with Muir Woods. Yet while enjoying the stillness and peaceful beauty of the wood, I found my mind wandering to a memory of this past summer.

I spent the summer north in Nevada City, CA working at a Salvation Army camp for kids. Midway through the summer, rumor spreads one afternoon that something had happened to Monica's husband. Monica's the nicest office lady anyone could ever meet. She's truly great (she purchased my favorite snacks, wrote a note and gifted me with one of her favorite books all for my birthday).

Turns out, Dave, her husband, was in a tragic motorcycle accident and was killed. It's a reality that is impossible to grasp. Someone, someone you love and see every day, gone. Just like that. We were stunned.

That weekend was his memorial service. It was held at the camp and all the summer staff—whether we knew him or not (and I did not)—were invited. Up until then I hadn't seen a picture of him. I was surprised. He was a burly man. And hairy. His face actually reminded me of Edward Sharpe. Monica seemed gentle and, well, innocent enough that after seeing picture after picture of Dave's black biker clothes, unkept hair and beard and overall wild style, I was genuinely yet satisfyingly perplexed. There were recent pictures and ones decades old. I was intrigued, starring at his face, at the way he looked, and Monica too.

I learned that he was something of a man of God, whatever that might mean. His appearance screamed, "Get the hell outta my way!" But from the several and seemingly never-ending testimonies given by that diverse collection of individuals, his faith said something else entirely.

There was one story though that burrowed itself in my mind. It must have because it was this I was turning over in my head as I walked Muir Woods. So basically, Dave had his master's degree (from APU of all places) in history. And after moving to Nevada City years later, he decided, being burdened for the people there (washed-out hippies and the like), to get a job as a dishwasher at a local restaurant. It was a good spot in town where locals and passer-bys would hang out and chat. He wanted to love and serve others. And he did so humbly.

He scrubbed dishes...

A master's degree and washing the leftover food off plates. Dave was a loser by most standards. He had a higher education than over 99% of the world's population and he does what?... But there is something intriguing about this life. It was his choice after all to wash that dish, and that one, and this one.

When he passed away, he and a close friend were riding their motorcycles down a narrow road. Unfortunately, I forget the details, but they were either getting back from or heading out on a missionary adventure of sorts. Dave loved people and wanted them to find God through Jesus. While riding, a deer darted in the road... I think we know what happens next.

His friend who rode with him said when the paramedics came he started explaining about their journey and one of them repented and was born again. I remember his eyes swelling up as he talked into the microphone. I couldn't imagine. So much good in the middle, unabashedly in the center, of grief, confusion and death. Life in death. So strange. I don't understand things like this.

There is obviously so much about him I am ignorant of. So much of his story lies beyond my understanding. And yet, what I know of him inspires me. Apart of me wants to imitate the man in those stories, whoever he is.

I don't really know what I want to do with my life, my post-graduation life that is. But inspiring others who you've never met (I'm writing about a guy I've neither met nor spoken with), when people talk about your life and heart and faith isn't such a bad idea.

I hope I'll think about Monica and Dave again soon.

Monica, I wish you blessing, peace and rest in the remembrance of your husband Dave.

April 15, 2012

The Big Rush: A Thought About Educational Trailblazing

Since I'm graduating, many friends are applying, being accepted to and beginning graduate level programs, even as early as this summer. When I hear things like this I get both excited and concerned.

I'm excited because education is good, formative and at times exhilarating. But at the same time, what's the big rush? I feel like many people are planning on blazing trails through their academics like they're running some marathon, with no foresight of breaks or slowing down. I understand for people in relationships who want to be married (or are married), who want to start a family and don't want to be old geezers when they have kids because they wanted to finish their education. I get that. I also understand that some people just know what they want and how to make it happen!… Hopefully that doesn't change.

But there are others, others—and I was one of these up until recently—who should think about slowing down and taking some time… taking some time off to………




Then think…

Go ahead and try it.

Education is important and something I care about. But since life is short and we are all going to die, we are limited in what we can pursue. This goes for everything, not just education. To be human is to be limited. God knows that I want to study everything! Well… a lot of things: theology, philosophy, history, psychology, sociology and ministry for starters and each of these is a portal to a whole world of its own. There's this heap of potential knowledge with not enough time to conquer it all.

Your studies should be well thought out. I think there is something to be said about, upon graduation, taking some time and honestly evaluating yourself and your life and intentionally putting into practice what you have learned and attempting to live in light of how you have been formed through your education. Obviously, though, for most of us, this doesn't mean chilling around and not working. Unfortunate, right? Life goes on. Bills need to be paid. Relationships happen. Etc.

But what's the point of studying the Bible, exegesis, hermeneutics and ministry if you abandon biblical studies and remove yourself from ministry? What's the point of your studies here and now if all you can think about is "moving on"?

I'm all for higher education. I just want people to treat their education well. Treat your education as if it were your grandmother. Be ethical. If you were your education, how would you want to be treated?

I guess all I'm trying to do is urge people and myself—in the middle of the crazy, up and down, go-go-go busyness of life, work and going to school—to walk in a manner worthy of the calling education to which you have been called received
(Ephesians 4:1 slightly modified). And so I suppose my one (multi-layered) application from this thesis is to stop, sit, breathe, then think about your educational road ahead, being honest in evaluating yourself, your talents, passions, dreams and calling. I don't know what the big rush is (other than the *strange trendiness* of graduate school of late and wanting to be a young, fresh scholarly genius who impresses others with his or her intellectual swag)! Time is not the enemy, it's the gift.

A true story (slightly modified as well):

A good friend of mine—and by no means am I saying this because I think she did not think through her life or education!—went to a very nice school to study education (what a coincidence) to be a teacher. She studied and passed and studied and passed and studied and passed until she was in her fourth year of college. Yet somehow, somewhere down the line she discovered a very sobering fact about herself. Drumroll please………

She did not want to be a teacher… *crowd stunned*

Well, ok then… I tell this story to illustrate the point that someone who thinks they know what they want to do/study in the future does not mean they will end up doing that.

Think about it.

So instead of trail-blazing, steam-rolling and other forms of path-clearing through the academy in our respective fields, we should take some time and properly think about that next step. And while we wait we can do the education that we have received justice and honor by practicing, implementing and influencing our everyday lives.