Thursday, September 24, 2009

thoughts on young adults and the church: part 3

So, a while ago I wrote a couple of posts on this topic, that you can find in the archives on the right-hand side of the page if you wish. This is not really a continuation of those posts though, but it does broach the same subject matter. This post comes from a book that I just finished reading. It was a challenging book at some points, but also encouraging. Part of what was so encouraging to me about the book was to read a section that, at least for me and some of the other young adults I know in the church, described the tension we live with. Especially having grown up in the church, I find myself caught in the midst of this.

The book is called Off-Road Disciplines: Spiritual Adventures for Missional Leaders by Earl Creps. I don't think I could do summarizing what he said justice, so permit to quote a larger section of a book than I normally would on here. In this section, Creps is speaking of Timothy, the young Christian church leader that Paul addressed 2 letters to in Scripture, and the challenges he would have having a Greek father and Jewish mother.

Timothy represents in some ways the younger leader of today who feels
caught between two worlds, one dominated by the more traditional expressions of
the Church (I'll call them the "Jews") and the other made up of the culture in
which they are natives (the "Greeks"). As a product of both, these modern
Timothys also attempt to navigate a morphing culture in which the only question
seems to be the nature of the next change. Yet the "Jewish" world of traditional
church that asks for the allegiance often seems so poorly suited for our highly
fluid environment that they cringe at the thought of giving their lives to it.
Many of these hybrid young people ask me privately, "Am I going crazy?" Or,
after meeting a few peers experiencing the same stresses, they say with obvious
relief, "I thought I was the only one!" (pg. 163)

They cherish their"Jewish" heritage of conservative spiritual values but
recognize that it now faces the challenge of the increasingly diverse, "Greek"
world of which they are also citizens. The mingling of both influences makes our
Timothys something like the the children of cross-cultural missionaries: third-culture people who bond both to their homeland and to their
adopted nation, creating a virtual citizenship that does not exactly represent
either. (pg.163)

I have been incredibly blessed to grow up in a church community that has allowed young adults freedom to do things in a way that works more for them while still being a part of and accountable to the larger community. And I have deeply appreciated that. But, even still, there have been times when I found myself feeling these same sentiments - as I struggle with wanting to be a part of reaching out to my world, balanced with a love and respect for those who are older and more traditional in how they view things and do things.

I would venture a guess that this section from this book describes the way many young adults have felt, and probably do feel, in their interactions with the church. I know when I read this section of the book it was like someone was reading my heart and mind on the matter at various points in my life. And, it was encouraging to me to read it in a book written by someone who is far beyond the young adult years, but "gets it". Then it made me grateful for the number of other followers of Christ in my life who don't fall into the category of young adults who also "get it." I can only pray that more people, both young adults and those who aren't, will "get it". I think that will make a huge difference in how the church (as in the whole body of believers, not just a specific building) moves forward together, rather than divided.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

disturb us Lord

I came across a prayer in some of my reading recently that really spoke to me and I want to share it with you. It really challenged.

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we ahve dreamed too little,
When we arrive safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask you to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to puch into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.
(Sir Francis Drake)

Friday, September 11, 2009

tribute to Grandma & Grandpa S

I was doing some tidying up of files on my computer tonight when I came across a speech I wrote and a slide show I made for my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary a few years ago. It was cool to go back and read what I wrote and to watch the slide show again. What I wrote that I appreciated about my grandparents then is what I still appreciate about Grandma and Grandpa S today.

I've had a few people over the years who didn't understand why I would choose to spend 4 hours at a time on the golf course with my Grandma and Grandpa S. But, I loved spending that time with them - building a relationship with them. It was always an enjoyable time. And I feel that my life is so much richer because of the little things I learned from them either through something we talked about or watching how they handled things on the golf course. I always look forward to those times with my grandparents.

I have so many memories of spending time at their house growing up. They lived on the lake and so the beach was a huge draw to get us to come. But once we were there they were always so involved in whatever we doing - from building huge sand castles on the beach, to making sure all the air mattresses and tubes were blown up for us, to making projects in the shop, to playing with the train set, to baking buns together, to making roll kuchen, to having sleepovers. We spent many hours together.

And we always knew that they were there if our parents were out of town or were unable to pick us up if something happened at school. Oftentimes, it was way more fun for a sick day to fall on a day when Mom had other plans, because it was way more fun to stay home from school at Grandma and Grandpa's. Grandma S definitely spoiled us when we were at her house when we were sick. And, as we got older and Mom and Dad started to go away for weekends and leave us at home, it was always comforting to know that Grandma and Grandpa S were just a phone call away if we needed them for any reason.

I always felt extra special at band concerts and other school special events because I knew that oftentimes Grandma and Grandpa S were sitting in the audience as well as my parents. And I knew that they were just as proud of me for whatever I was doing as my parents were too.

Even now that I'm an adult little of this has changed in my mind. I still love spending time with Grandma and Grandpa S. I still look forward to being able to have conversations with them about so much of life. I still look forward to going to their house, even though they no longer live on the lake - I go because I enjoy them, the lake was always a bonus but it wasn't why I went over there. I may get kind of embarrassed when they start bragging about me to other people and I'm there, but deep down it makes me feel special and loved. It's been a couple of years since we have been able to golf together, and it's something that I really miss - that time with them was always special. But spending time with them now is still just as special.

Grandma and Grandpa S have been a huge part of my life and have played a very important role in my life. I appreciate that a lot. They are truly special people to me.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

trusting God even when questions are not answered

In the last month or so, since my friends lost their little boy, I've wrestled a lot with the whole idea of God being good. It really doesn't seem like a good God would let all that has happened for this family happen. When life doesn't seem fair it can be easy to begin to question how a good God could allow that to happen.

And, I'm discovering that sometimes the questions we ask in those times when things seem unfair because of suffering on this earth don't have an answer that we will understand on this earth. We can't open our Bibles and find an answer. We ask God and what we hear doesn't seem to really answer that question . . . because He's calling us to just trust Him anyways . . . to trust Him and believe Him even when it doesn't make sense. That's not an easy thing to do.

We want answers. We want to know "why" something happened. But sometimes we don't find out. And then we make the choice to trust God and believe Him and continue to follow Him even though we don't understand His reasons for what He allowed. We look back at times in the past when God has showed Himself good and worthy of our trust in the past and we move forward in the current time because of those times in the past, not because what is going on right now makes sense.

Almost a year ago now, another friend of mine from working at summer camp lost her husband in a freak accident and now this has happened just a month ago to more friends from camp. Neither situation seems fair from an earthly perspective. And I don't know that I'll ever totally understand either of them while I'm on this earth. I can't imagine being in the position of any of my friends who have gone through this. It seems almost impossible for think of what they are walking through. And yet, I also am amazed at how they have walked through this all. They haven't given up. They have persevered even when it would seem easier to just give up. And that's something that has made me realize that it is possible to trust God, to believe God is good, and to continue to follow Him even when all that is happening in life seems so unfair and their seem to be no answers to hard questions.