Sunday, February 27, 2011

Imaginary Jesus

I just finished reading a book called Imaginary Jesus. It's a bit trippie but a good read. It's outlandish and funny with bits of startling depth scattered through out. I recommend it. The main character in the book is confronted with the realization that he has quite happily replaced the real Jesus with an imaginary one. The apostle Peter appears to him in a communist vegan cafe in downtown Portland, Oregon and proceeds to get into a fist fight with the imaginary Jesus. Yes, that is how the book begins. It goes on from there as the main character has to decide if he wants to find the real Jesus or stick with the comforting Jesus he has imagined up. As it turns out there are many imaginary Jesus' lurking in his life and they chase after him or he chases after them throughout the rest of the book. Apostle Pete and a talking donkey named Daisey are his help in addition to one trip back in time to see when the Apostle Peter first meets Jesus.

Of course I can't help but wonder if there are any imaginary Jesus' lurking within the walls of my mind. If I have fashioned my own personal Jesus to fit into a nice shape that I can make sense of and find comfort in. The problem with the main character's Jesus is that he was like the real Jesus but not real so it was really hard to unwrap and disrobe the imaginary one and find the real one. The real Jesus is mysterious and not under anyone's control. He is.

See, I've been really tired of late and disheartened. I've been seeking to follow after Jesus and it's very hard. I've got troubles that have troubles and I can't seem to leave them with Jesus. He seems slow in answering my distress call. I feel adrift in a sea of surging, swollen waters that threaten to overtake me. My sighs signal out an SOS. I know the real Jesus never leaves me but I wish He would speak up. My ears seem blocked up. This is the same problem the hero of the book had. He had something he needed to say and hear from Jesus. The real Jesus, not something of his own making and it took a whole book to find the real Jesus and when he, the hero, found Jesus it was worth the pages of wrestling, of seeking and seemingly not finding. That SOS sent out by the hero resonated within the longings of my own heart. I will keep seeking and I will keep wrestling. It is worth it all to be near the real Jesus.

Here is another song that I have been listening to called "Please Be My Strength" by Gungor:

I've tried to stand my ground
I've tried to understand
But I can't seem to find
My faith again

Like water on the sand
Or grasping at the wind
I keep on falling short

So please be my strength
Please be my strength
'Cause I don't have any more
I don't have any more

I'm looking for a place
Where I can plant my faith
One thing I know for sure

I cannot create it
And I cannot sustain it
It's Your love
That's keeping me

Please be my strength
Please be my strength
I don't have any more
I don't have any more

And at my final breath
I hope that I can say
I fought the good fight
Of faith

I pray your glory shines
This doubting heart of mine
And all would know that You

You are my strength
You are my strength
You and You alone
You keep bringing me back home

Oh, You are my strength
You are my strength
You and You alone
Keep bringing me back home

It's You and You alone
Bringing me back home

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Worms, a rat and a Valentines dance

It started with a slight twinge within. I felt increasingly uncomfortable. Soon it seemed my stomach was pressing against my spine and under the front of my ribs. I felt round and rung out like a dirty dish towel. Misshapen. That is when I began to suspect worms. Yes, worms, living inside of me. The other night I couldn't sleep as I imagined the tickling in the back of my throat to be a worm wriggling about. It's hard to relax with such thoughts roaming and rattling around in the dark of night. By Wednesday I was sluggish and slow moving, the worms within eating my strength. Steve and Sam went to the pharmacy and picked up a worm treatment for us all. Since then I am feeling better. It seems that getting worms here is not an if but a when. So now I am among the many that have had living worms within.

The other night we went to do a surprise pick up some friends coming back from a quick trip to South Africa. It was Sam's one and only friend and his mom. They are Americans and work with the US Embassy. We got there just in time to see the plane land and then walked down to the police area to spy them out of the crowd of new comers from two flights. We called and discovered that they were way in the back of line waiting to go through immigration. We decided to walk out of the airport and pick up some pizzas out of a parked truck that has a wood burning pizza oven built in the back. We ordered and walked a bit before turning back. We paid for the pizzas and locked them back in the car before checking on our friends progress. They hadn't moved very far so we walked out of the airport in search of drinks. On our way to the small shop we walked alongside a busy road with street vendors selling everything from grilled meat and fish to horse track betting.

Along the way I noticed something small moving along the trash and debris. It was a not so small ugly rat. My stomach twinged reminding me of the worms I carried within. As we walked by the rat stopped and watched us watching it. We shared a moment, the rat and our family, as cars sped by and vendors called out. We finally reached a small shop and bought some coke and sprite. On the way back we bought some seedless grapes (expensive,from South Africa) and some bananas. By the time we made it back to the airport our friends were just ten minutes from freedom. We drove them home, shared pizza and drinks and talked about the adventures of mother and son in South Africa. It was a lovely surprise complete with a white chocolate covered angel food cake hand carried from South Africa to boot!

Tomorrow night Joe and Megs are attending their school Valentine's dance. Megan has a new red dress and plans to get ready with her friends. She has been looking forward to such things her whole life. Joe feels ambivalent about it, he figures he will have fun there but "it's not like I'm bouncing around in anticipation" or something like that said Joe recently on a skype chat. So here I am missing them like crazy and wondering what the heck we are doing here. I mean other than trying to follow a call from the God of the universe... no pressure or anything... Joe and Meg have assured me that they love it at RFIS and we have made the right decision but I am still struggling. I guess that is to be expected but I had hoped that by now I would feel more comfortable and settled. I feel neither at this moment. Sorry to be such a downer but that is where I am as the worms die within. Hopefully my sorrows and discomfort will die within as well. It seems the pharmacy doesn't have a pill for such things...

I will close with a song, an oldie but a goodie. It's entitled, "I Still Believe" sung by Russ Taft

I been in a cave
For forty days
Only a spark
To light my way

I wanna give out
I wanna give in
This is our crime
This is our sin

But I still believe
I still believe
Through the pain
And through the grief

Through the lies
Through the storms
Through the cries
And through the wars

Oh, I still believe

Flat on my back
Out at sea
Hopin' these waves
Don't cover me

I'm turned and tossed
Upon the waves
When the darkness comes
I feel the grave

But I still believe
I still believe
Through the cold
And through the heat

Through the rain
And through the tears
Through the crowds
And through the cheers

Oh, I still believe

I'll march this road
I'll climb this hill
Upon my knees
If I have to

I'll take my place
Upon this stage
I'll wait till the end of time
For you like everybody else

I'm out on my own
Walkin' the streets
Look at the faces
That I meet

I feel like I
Like I wanna go home
What do I feel?
What do I know?

But I still believe
Yes, I still believe
Through the shame
And through the grief

Through the heartache
Through the tears
Through the waiting
Through the years

For people like us
In places like this
We need all the hope
That we can get

Oh, I still believe