My 40 Acres

BEEN RUNNING LATE HAVEN’T WE?

It’s been a fully loaded summer so far hasn’t it? Over the past few months, I at last realized a dream and graduated from none other than the Georgia Institute of Technology. Since I was a young boy, I hoped and prayed that I would someday be able to call myself a Tech alum and it’s nothing less than inspiring to experience that thrill. A lot of sweat, tears, and late nights went in to this degree and it’s all worth it.

So now, borrowing a term from a favorite band, I am looking upon my “40 acres.” When the Civil War ended and the slaves were freed, many were given by the government 40 acres of land and a chance to begin again. After a life dictated so much by things around me, I can empathize so much with those newly freed slaves and I am simply floored by the untilled land and trees the expand out before me with endless possibilities to explore. Over the last month, I’ve pondered so often, “What does God want me to do with my 40 acres?” I don’t think there is an immediate answer, but I look forward to slow revelation of the answer as I begin to put my plow in the ground and move forward.

WHY DO WE…..

Lately, I’ve become more and more keenly aware of how faulty and broken we human beings are. And yet, we want so badly to put all of our faith and hope and dreams in _something._ We follow a sports star and emulate them and celebrate when they succeed and crash in disappointment when they so themselves as only humans. We put our energies into political bodies, believing that they will restore our country back to the “old days” (and what were the old days, anyway?) We put our money and faith in a church and a doctrine and a pastor, hoping they have all of the answers that we can’t figure out. Still, eventually none of it satisfies. Why did God spend so much time fighting the infiltration of idols in His people’s cultures? Why does that part of the Bible matter to us anymore if we can’t count more Asherah poles and Baal statues than fingers and toes in today’s world? Could it be that these idols have taken a more insidious form that runs through the very fabric of our culture? Daily I am forced to remind myself that we are fallen people and my disappointment in others only reflects how badly I wish this wasn’t true. Why not stop trusting political parties to save our country and instead vote for Godly men and women? Why not stop depending on a denomination to decide our theology for us and instead dig deep into the Word and ponder the mysteries of God for ourselves? Why not stop depending on friends and attention from others to fulfill our need to be loved and instead know that The Almighty thinks of us every second of the day? I don’t have the answers to how to live the perfect life but every day I tell myself “Be God’s.” and pray that the rest of the pieces will fall into place.

WHAT REAL LOVE IS

It’s not that hard to be a Christian anymore. At least, not in America. No one here throws Christians to the lions or burns them on the stake. So, what is the challenge that we face as Christians in America that keeps us from moving forward in our faith and trusting God more? In my life, the monster of pride and image continually confronts me. More and more, God is teaching me that my appearance and image to others, which in American society is critical to our careers, our friendships, and our status, must be put aside to follow his first commandment “Love the LORD with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” and his second commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

(How’s that for a run-on sentence?)

So I stand diametrically opposed to God screaming, “That will make me look bad!” and “I can’t do that, what would my friends think?” when God roars like a lion back, “LOVE.” If all that matters in life is love, then why do we put try so hard to put up walls around us, hold grudges, and drive those who have hurt us to their knees and demand they beg for forgiveness? If all that matters in life is love, then why do we put up walls with our enemies (or even those who may not be our enemies, but simply those who carelessly slighted us?) If all that matters in life is love, then love must come first and we must be willing to lose face in front of those whom we deem important. This is my First Acre of land to plow in my new territory: To love those who hurt me and hate me and cross whatever barriers have been built up in my mind and heart to do what God commands first, love.

THE SUMMER OF LOVE FOREVER

Two summers ago, my friends and I jokingly dubbed the summer, “The Summer of Luv.” It was a glorious time and we haunted OK Cafe and Cafe Intermezzo almost nightly pondering the love of God and what it took to earn the love of another. We didn’t find any love that summer. I don’t think any of us even went on a date. Nevertheless, last year brought about a return to those glorious days and in a fit of joyous nostalgia, the summer earned the sequel name, “The Summer of Luv, Part Deux.” These hot days of this year are worlds apart from the previous summer, but what God is ever so slowly opening my eyes to is the wonder of love for a lifetime. Many of my friends are getting married this summer and many others are now celebrating their one year anniversaries. I am being blessed with the opportunity to witness love that surpasses emotion and desire and I am witnessing around me the kind of love that drives deeper to the core of a person and keeps them together until death. I am awed. Am I ready to jump into that kind of love? Absolutely not! God still has a lot left to teach me for it’s my turn, but wow, what lessons I am learning in the meantime. Due to all of this, the summer has been dubbed, “The Summer of Love Forever.” I pray often for my friends making this serious and momentous commitment that they will not let the demons of self pride, impatience, and wandering eyes rip apart what God has placed them in and that they will learn of the love of God increasingly more through the love of their spouse.

WHERE TO BEGIN

As with all of my essays, inspiration usually comes from a wondrous journey to a (somewhat) far off place. This time it was a return trip to Chattanooga. I returned to some of the wonderful memories with a wonderful friend where we watched the sun set over the mountains, danced until the night came, and then laughed our way down the streets of downtown about six months ago. This trip was much warmer and the location of our dance was closed, but I was blessed with a chance to add more wonderful memories to that beautiful city with walks by the river in the afternoon sun. Thanks for the conversation and company, Adriene. May there be many more long talks and long walks to come.

And so, now it’s time to close. Next time: The Equinox. Lots of stuff is going to happen between now and then and I’m going to get lots of chances to put into practice many of the things that I’ve pondered here. I just keep telling myself “Be God’s” and begin to push the plow forward…..