death and loss

For something as universal and experience as death you might think we’d talk about it more. You might think we would understand the experience better. You might think we’d be better prepared to love those experiencing a death in their life.

But you know as much as I do that for all we might think when we look at death objectively, rarely is that the lived experience.

For worse, death will touch everyone. It will irrevocably impact your life at some point while you are still alive. Talking with a good friend has brought the topic back to mind.

We’re going to explore death a little.

We’re going to do that because society is terrible at supporting people and sadly the church isn’t often much better.

But we should be.

And we can be.

We will be.

Today we’ll touch on some fundamentals, staring points so we are all in the same space.

Death cannot be fixed.

While I understand how redundant a statement that is we still try. We try to make people feel better. To fix or change what cannot be fixed. Death is permanent. It’s dark and traumatic and often our best attempts to fix the experience end up minimizing it.

So we won’t try. We won’t fix this experience. We’ll be with people in the darkness not tell them the darkness isn’t there.

Death is not purposeful.

We won’t try to render meaning where they is none. This is so important I don’t want you to miss it. Death wasn’t part of the plan. So when we talk about death we have to be careful how we speak. We need to understand the implications of the words we choose.

God can bring good from evil but it’s never His plan. He doesn’t cause evil to happen so He can do good. Evil is a part of our world and death is wholly evil. God can bring redemption out of death but it’s not the purpose of death. It’s not why it happened and God’s ability to bring good from evil doesn’t detract from how evil something is.

It happens because we live in a dark fallen world and people need to be allowed to experience that darkness without it being minimized or overly spiritualized. It’s complicated enough experience loss we don’t need to complicate it with some theological controversy over God’s involvement in death.

God doesn’t want death.

God doesn’t cause death.

God is 100% with us during the darkness, but that darkness and pain are very real.

With that as our start we’ll look at how we respond to death tomorrow. If death cannot be fixed and death isn’t part of some bigger purpose what do we say?

Or rather to start what don’t we say?

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don’t get me wrong prayer is important…

Prayer is important.

I worry every I write about prayer that people will get the impression that I don’t see it as important. I do. I value it a great deal. If you’ve been following along here you know that I wrote three prayers (here, here and here) and then reflected on them the following week (here, here and here).

Prayer is important.

But so often we stop there. I’ve written about it before. The temptation to just pray. To see or know someone in need and just pray. We are so much more than that.

That’s why this week’s challenge is for you to think of someone who you have recently said or have been tempted to say “I’ll pray for you” and go the next step. Make sure you pray for them, but also draft a list of the things you’re really and honestly prepared to do to love and support them. Then give it to them.

Most of us truly mean it when we say “let me know if there is anything I can do” but I’ve found this to be more impactful. It shows time, caring and thought. It wasn’t something that just slipped out or was said out of duty.

They’ll know you’re serious and that’s the point.

To be serious about our love and to not just pray for support but answer that prayer with tangible support as well.

sometimes…

I so want you to care about this.

I so want this to mean something to you.

I so want this life for you.

I so want you to want this life.

 

Why is it so hard?

Why doesn’t God make this easier?

Why isn’t this just how we are?

Why do we need to change?

 

What am I doing wrong?

What is it that I can’t show you?

What is it that I can’t teach you?

What is it I can’t help you to feel?

What am I missing?

 

Sometimes when all of these thoughts come I don’t know what to do. I just want to yell. I want to shake people. I want to press and be harsh. I want to scream. I want to leave people where they are because that’s all they want anyway. I want to not come back to someone who is content with what seems to me like a life that’s just existence. I don’t want to meet them where they are at, I want to drag them to what’s better. I want just loving people to not be enough. I want an excuse or reason or permission to make people a project because that is so much easier. I want love to be easier. I want life to be easier, mine and theirs. I want to give up on people. I want to just care about me.

I just thought you may appreciate knowing how I feel about compassion sometimes.

door to door

I had someone come to my door yesterday. They were from Amnesty International. They were going door to door asking people to support Amnesty International in their efforts in Syria.

As she left I said “try to stay dry” and she responded with “I’m out here trying to help with human rights, what’s a little rain?”

This brought three things to mind for me so I thought we’d work through them this week. It’s amazing how something so small can make you think so much. That or I’ve just got some sort of cognitive problem that I should see someone about.

It’s probably the second one.

The first thing I pondered on after she left was “should I have given her some money?”

I didn’t.

Was I wrong?

For someone who talks about generosity I was strikingly ungenerous.

I’d made up my mind when she came to the door. I don’t have money for this.

I didn’t consider it might be an opportunity from God. I didn’t pray or search my spirit to see if this is something God was leading me in. It was someone at the door soooooo be polite and get out of the conversation as fast as possible.

Just like Jesus would do.

But the larger question is do you have to give every time? How do you know when to give?

I said that we already have charities we support. They work building community and capacity. They are organizations that speak to our hearts. When I started to speak I made up my mind not to argue. I wasn’t going to get into if one was better or worse. I decided I wouldn’t discuss which was more deserving. Luckily she didn’t’ push.

The point isn’t to judge which is better. Aiding those in what will probably soon be classified as a genocide, that’s always good.

Taking those shunned by their community and giving them a chance to be productive for the first time in heir life? Also good.

Giving someone who’s never had the resources to support their family that chance? Good choice.

See it’s all good. There is so much good working going on.

Back to the question of action.

It starts with a wiling heart, which mine was not when that young lady came to the door. It starts with a sensitivity to the ask and the heart of God.

So back to my response. No is entirely ok, if you at least consider the question. I didn’t. So I was wrong this time.

That said, all your resources are going to other meaningful work? Great, thank you for getting involved.

But if that young lady comes to your door and not only do you say no to her you say no to all of the calls to support justice, love, peace and the work of God?

Point blank, you’re doing something wrong.

bounus content: give presentation

A few years ago I was doing some writing encouraging people to be more generous. The idea was that people could be generous once a day. Slowly start a revolution of generosity.

So I made a presentation about why we should be more generous and what that might look like.

In light of yesterdays idea of looking at ourselves this presentation came to mind. There’s a call for reflection, action, and perhaps a push to give in areas you might not have considered before.

We’ll come back to our discussion of what holds us back from giving and living the compassionate live we are called to tomorrow and Friday.

Today, I hope you find the presentation interesting, challenging and again a call to look at how your beliefs about compassion and who you are do or maybe don’t line up with your actions.

 

 

 

lets get ready

Are you struggling with all of this?

Do you see it all and say ‘this is all great’ and then look back and realize that it just isn’t happening? You want this to be a part of your life but for some reason it’s not.

Next week we’re going to touch on why we are held back. We know/want to start or be a part of this compassionate lifestyle but it just doesn’t happening.

So for today I’m going to ask you to do something a little different. Today isn’t’ a story or ideas on how to be more compassionate. Today is about you. Today I want to you think about living the life of compassion. Look back at the old posts, the older ideas, and start to ask yourself some questions.

Give these some time and space. Don’t rush them. Read them 2 or 3 times. Be honest with your answers to yourself.

Do I think this is where God is calling me?

 

 

Is this life of compassion the life God always wanted and still does want for me?

 

 

Do I agree that part of being a disciple of Jesus, a Christian, is compassion?

 

 

Do I want to do the work or want to want to do the work?

 

 

I think it’s important for us to have some idea as to where we stand especially if we are hoping to find out why things aren’t happening the way we want them to. We have to ask if we’re honestly ready to look at our lives and what might be holding us back. Are you ready to be honest with yourself?

I’m excited for next week. I’ve been working on some of these for weeks. Fair warning, it may not be an easy week. It’s important but not easy.