Hmm…it’s strange how suddenly I’m back to blogging again. As soon as my busy schedule dies down a bit, I’m straight back to blogging. Perhaps it’s because being busy keeps me from thinking too in-depth about anything. Or perhaps it’s because now that I’m not going to see some of my closest friends for the entire summer, I now can’t spill out my thoughts to them and am now resorting to my previously tried-and-true method. It’s strange to see just how much the impact of friends can have.
At any rate, I already dealt with that in my previous entry, so I won’t travel down that road again, at least for the time being. Today has been somewhat of a strange day. I had nothing to do, so I pretty much did nothing. Watched some TV. Surfed the net. Nothing big. The mail came and I was happy to have gotten another $180 from the government – Steven Harper himself wrote me a cheque (well okay, that’s a lie…it’s from my income tax return) – to add to my $50 GST credit. I suppose I should enjoy getting money from the government while I can; I know it’s not going to be long before I have to start paying them instead. But anyways, eventually my parents got home and turned on the news. Turns out that there was another school shooting down in Virginia. My heart goes out to the families of the injured and the fallen. But it got me thinking.
It seems as though every time I rise up and make a strong decision before God, right after is when I fall the hardest. I used to just assume that after every climb there must be a subsequent crash. That’s how it works with drugs, right? But now I’m not so sure. I had a great time yesterday at church. In the morning service, my pastor was talking about how we need to use prayer to unleash God’s power on earth. He mentioned our communities and the city of Brantford, and as he did so, my heart just went out to this city that I call my home. I used to hate it here. But even still…it’s my home. And though there are about 70 churches in Brantford alone – I ran through my phone book and counted up all the ones just in Brantford, let alone in the surrounding towns – there are still so many people out there that just aren’t being reached. I prayed that somehow, somewhere, these people would be reached, whether inside or outside of church walls. And that was a big step for me. For just a brief instant, it seemed as though I saw the people of Brantford as Jesus does. I saw them with love in my heart for their lost souls. It was a revealing moment, and I prayed that God would somehow use me to impact those who I come in contact with. And so I made a decision to start up a Bible study in the residence I am at in university. It’s a Catholic residence, and that brings up its own mess of problems, but I resolved to do it. It’s one of the ways that God can use to bring people to Himself, and although Brantford is my home, I have a greater impact in St. Jerome’s than I do here.
That afternoon, I spent time reading my Bible, something which I have struggled to do throughout this school year. I realized that I hadn’t read the Bible in almost a week and a half, and so I resolved to get myself back on track this summer. Hopefully working at a Christian summer camp where we get time set aside for personal devotions each day will help me with that. Then it was off to worship practice for the youth service. It was a great service, and I went home feeling grand. Pastor Skipp spoke a message of forgiveness, and I felt like a new man.
But of course, today I fell, and fell hard. And now I sit here, once again with the inward appearance of a guilty man. I stand self-condemned. It happens every time I fall. I feel the tugging of the Holy Spirit at my heart, and I just can’t answer it right away because I know that I don’t deserve to even ask for forgiveness. And yet God offers it freely anyway. It blows me away. But a while ago, when I was sitting and contemplating my frequent and innumerable sins, I realized that Jesus doesn’t condemn me. I do it to myself, likely with plenty of help from Satan and his forces. He’s constantly looking out for ways to trip us up, and he has a variety of tricks in the bag. He gets us to sin, but even worse than that, he then gets us to avoid God’s forgiveness because we feel unworthy. I mean, it’s true. We are unworthy. But God declares us worthy of it, and so we should stand up and grab hold of it. So as I pondered this, I decided that every time I screwed up, instead of condemning myself and barely bringing myself to kneel down and humbly asking for forgiveness, it would be better to simply acknowledge my sin, acknowledge that Christ has already paid for it, and then get back on my feet and keep on trying to live the life God wants me to. I see failure not as a need for groveling and offering endless apologies, but as a chance to get back up and keep trying.
I know that it sounds a bit strange. I mean, we’re supposed to ask for forgiveness when we sin, right? But when you really think about it, Jesus already paid for our sin 2000 years ago. It’s already covered, and we are free from it. We are asking for forgiveness that has already been given. The act of asking for forgiveness is really more a way for ourselves to acknowledge that God will forgive us. I mean, it’s still a good practice to do. But what I found was that I was coming to God and saying, “God…uhh…yeah. I screwed up…again. I really hate doing this all the time. Why do I keep screwing up so often? Why can’t I just do what I want to do? Please forgive me, and help me to do better.” When this continues over and over again, it gets mentally draining. It gets depressing, really. Each time I prayed this prayer, the word “again” stung me like a bullet to the chest. I felt unworthy to receive forgiveness simply because I had to ask for it so often, like there was some sort of quota limit to the number of times we could ask Him for it. Please, for your sake, I warn you: Do not pray like this. Praying for forgiveness is great, but praying for forgiveness…again can have horrible results.
So now, instead of asking for forgiveness…again, I’ve taken to simply looking heavenward, thinking about the love and mercy that God shows me endlessly, and ending with a small smile on my face when I remember that God’s grace is always there to catch me when I fall. I can’t believe the difference that it has made. I basically told God, “You know that each time I sin, I always come around, repentant and humble. You don’t condemn me, but each time I do that, I condemn myself inside. So instead, let’s please just skip the whole apology process, since you and I both know that I am sorry and that deep down inside, I never meant to do the thing I did. You see my heart, and yet you love me, so please help me to love myself, get back on my feet when I fall, and simply keep on going.” It has made my life so much easier. I have fallen today, and yet here I am, speaking about God’s love and forgiveness. I know that His forgiveness is always there, and though it is certainly not an excuse to sin, it is a safety net that protects us when we do.
So as I sat and ate my dinner, and watched the news about the school shooting today, these thoughts popped into my mind. They had a sound clip from an “expert” who said that he placed the blame for it squarely on society, for bringing up a violent generation. And while I suppose that he is partially right, I have to disagree. School shootings aren’t about violence or the influence of video games. Violence is simply the event that occurs. “Society” should be blamed for bringing up a godless and hopeless generation. These kids see no more hope in life. They simply don’t care about the human lives that they waste, because they are either a) suicidal and just wanting to “go out with a bang” by lashing out at anyone, b) hate-filled and don’t care who else gets in their way as they attempt to kill a certain person or group of people, or c) attention-seeking and wanting to get their face in the paper simply because it’s better in their minds than being completely ignored. Sometimes it’s a combination of more than one of those, and the only question that one could possibly ask that is of any importance is, “Why?” Why would anyone seek to end human life for no reason except that they are about to end their own lives as well? Why would any child be allowed to grow up with such hatred or apathy in their hearts?
Perhaps it’s simply because I see the world from a different angle than most “adults”, because I am part of this younger generation, but it’s a huge thing nowadays. Kids are selfish and apathetic toward anyone but themselves. In some cases, that apathy extends even toward themselves. The whole “emo” subculture is growing simply because teens and even younger kids just don’t care. Parents have never instilled any values into them, and so they grow up without any value except for self-preservation. And what kind of society can survive when all its newest members are not concerned with society whatsoever? Some people say it’s just a phase that kids grow out of when they stop acting like a baby and become “mature.” But when you look at the maturity level of a lot of adults these days, it’s not hard to see where the kids learned it from. Let me let you in on a little secret: It’s not a phase…it’s a character trait that is now becoming embedded into these kids’ lives. It’s the result of parents who either indulge their child with anything they want and teach them that no one is important except themselves, or who neglect their child because they are too concerned with their own interests. It’s the result of everyone arguing for their own “rights” and not paying any attention to the rights of anyone else. It’s the result of schools that aren’t allowed to instill any moral values in children and parents that aren’t allowed to discipline them. It’s the result of fast-food, instant convenience, and personal indulgence. No wonder we have school shootings and other acts of violence. It’s the natural result of one person having absolutely no regard for anyone else. Shame on us. Shame on us all.
And how does this fit in with what I was saying before? The only way that we can stem the tide of violence is to instill a sense of the value of human life back into the younger generations. We must teach them that those other people around them aren’t just walking, talking machines that are there to satisfy one’s every need. They’re people, and people have value. Not “rights.” Not “liberties.” But value. If we treat them like we treat ourselves, then everyone ends up better for it. But how does one go about doing this? By teaching kids that Someone cares about them – other than just themselves. By teaching them that rights and wrongs are not right and wrong because some distant authority figure says that they are, but because it’s the best way. Today’s generation is godless not because they chose to be so, but because their parents decided that God was a myth, religion is archaic, and well hey, abortion ain’t that bad. Today’s generation is godless because Christians are known for their backsliding and religiosity instead of for their love (“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:35). And if that isn’t a reason for major change, then I don’t know what is. I know that there are great Christians out there that are doing amazing things for God. But for the rest of us – myself included – we have some major work to do. We need to smarten up so that maybe we won’t be responsible for sending people to hell, just because we were too comfortable in our padded pews. Maybe God wants us to stop just throwing money in the offering plate for the missionaries way out in Ooga-booga Land and actually go and do something ourselves. If society’s a wreck, and we’re sitting here with the Truth in our hands…whose fault is it really?
…And that’s what I have to say about that.