Looking back now at the weekend of my amazingly perfect wedding, I think there may have been one moment where I felt overwhelmed and nervous about what was happening.
It wasn’t the night before the wedding. It wasn’t as we were driving to the site. It wasn’t at 5:15 when we were a half hour behind schedule and weren’t starting yet.
It was the week before when I was sitting down and trying to write my vows.
There aren’t a lot of times in someone’s life when you publicly make HUGE claims and promises in front of the people you care about the most, especially the person you’re going to live with forever. The thought of me actually following through with everything I was writing in my vows was a very sobering moment. It forced me to re-think what it meant to be in marriage.
As scary as that initial moment was, once I thought about how much I desired to be with Deborah, it became much easier to settle down and write what was in my heart.
If I did not love Deborah, if I did not delight and find my joy in her the way that I do, then creating and saying those vows would have been merely a show.
And the same goes with our relationship with God.
If we truly love and find our joy in Christ, should it not naturally lead to vows? Would offering up our lives in surrender or making huge claims and sacrifices be that outlandish?
When we are not captivated by our Creator, when we are not ravished by our Redeemer - when we aren’t confident enough to make promises to our true first love, that would be a time for us to worry.
God is worthy of our promises. He’s deserving of our dreams. Who else but the Savior of our souls should our boldest claims be made to?
People were requesting that they hear the vow again, so I decided to just post it here. This was as much a reminder for me of the Gospel as it was a promise that Jesus would be the center of our marriage.
"I, Jesse, vow to love you, Deborah, as Christ loves the church.
As Jesus Christ guides and leads the church, so I too will guide and lead you. I will point you to his promises, and sharpen you with his word. I will listen and honor you as my beloved helper. With the pursuit of Christ as my primary passion, I will guide and lead you.
As Jesus Christ is patient with the world, not wanting anyone to perish, but wanting everyone to come to repentance, so I too will be patient with you. In your mood swings, in your “times of the month”, in your stubbornness, in your neediness, on your worst day, on your worst week, month, or year - I will be patient with you.
As Jesus Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, so I too will give myself up for you. In every opportunity that I can sacrifice something for your good, whether it be my life, my weekend, or even my USC football games, I will give myself up for you.
And as Jesus Christ will one day present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle, holy and without blemish, so I too will do everything in my power and ability to labor towards presenting you on the last day as blameless.
I will fight for your flourishing.
Pray for your empowerment.
Suffer for your sanctification and
Hope for your holiness.
In word and in deed, in thought and in motive, I vow to love you, Deborah, as Christ loves the church.”
Let it be true that I can be as intentional with God as I was with Deborah on my wedding day.
As I was minding my own business in Deborah’s kitchen, little Esther came up to me with a precarious question: “Wanna see me do a backflip?”
Without a second’s warning, she faced me, grabbed my hands, propped her feet on my knees and leaped back only to land on her feet again.
"Whoa that was scary Esther!"
"It’s not scary as long as you don’t let go."
"Well of course I wouldn’t do that!"
My heart, warmed by the sweetness of what just happened, was also reminded what it means to be a child of God.
1) Faith is simple. It doesn’t have to be a hebrew/greek word study. It doesn’t have to be preaching a sermon on the eleventy seven aspects of faith portrayed in Hebrews. Sometimes, it’s just taking God’s hand and doing something a little risky.
2) God is strong. I’m not the most muscular man Esther’s ever seen or known, but she knew that I could support her. How much more of our burdens and struggles can our God support when we rely on Him?
3) He Won’t Let Go. I was nearly shocked (and a little saddened) at the idea of wanting to let go of Esther as she was flipping upside down. Of course I wouldn’t do that! Yet I remember the promises of God my heavenly Father as He says “Never will I leave nor forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5, Deut. 31:6) I could almost hear Him in the midst of my worries and fear: “Of course I wouldn’t do that! Of course I’m here for you! Of course I’m in control!”
How much does it sadden the heart of God when I don’t trust in who He is? In how loving of a Father He is?
How powerful would my testimony be if I believed in these three things about my God, the way that Esther believed in me?
Faith is simple: God is strong, He won’t let go.
To see how integrated deistic language has been in our culture for the past century, just think about the vernacular that everyone uses every single day.
We use deistic language when we’re:
Surprised - Oh my GOD.
Frustrated - JESUS CHRIST!
Angry - God d*** it!
Relieved - Thank God!
Standardizing something by calling it “Bible” or the “Gospel”
Or how about these popular slogans:
"Like sheep in wolf’s clothing"
"a David and Goliath situation"
"This is my cross to bear"
And on and on and on we could go.
What happens when people are surrounded by the language of God, the sayings of God, and the stories of God, without really hearing it in the context of the Gospel of God?
What happens when people that don’t even believe in God are the ones emphatically saying these things?
I believe we begin to think we know what God’s about without actually looking into the bible. We don’t hear enough to make an educated decision on our faith, but we hear just enough to feel like we understand what God’s about and disregard it.
I believe a tragic, subtle form of inoculation to the Gospel occurs to our culture.
When talking about Jesus to non-believers, I find that oftentimes people immediately respond with difficult, deep-rooted questions. The “why is there evil in the world” kind of questions, as if they had already read through the Bible and came up with these questions themselves - what a rarity that is amongst non-believers!
This is what inoculation looks like. It’s feeling like you understand the whole thing without having gone through the evidence.
There probably used to be a time when people said these things in the context of their knowledge of the Bible, and they actually meant them. When they said “Thank GOD” after something happened, they actually thanked Him. When they said “Hallelujah”, it was actually praising God. Now, we unfortunately live in a society where it’s commonplace to take the Lord’s name in vain.
As one person I feel that there’s not much I can do but be wary of how I speak, because it can have many subtle implications on an entire culture’s faith views. When I say God, Lord, or Jesus, do people know that I’m actually talking about Him?
More importantly, do I know that I’m actually talking about Him?
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. -Psalm 19:14
No matter how terrible of a day I had at work, my negative feelings always disappear when I see Deborah’s weary face as she returns from the hospital.
After all, my work environment includes live music, endless snacks, cereal and candy bar, an actual fully loaded bar, a pool and ping pong table, and TV’s everywhere. There have actually been nights where I preferred to stay longer at work just because it’s so comfortable here.
Deborah’s working environment (probably) has a eerie, sterile smell with death lingering around every corner with the strangest combinations of people from all different life stages and problems. Hearing about her day after a long shift is tedious. I do my best to share in her burden, but there are just some things she chooses not to share with me because it’s too graphic or confusing (thank you). It makes my tough day seem like a cakewalk in comparison.
Imagine then if someone came in with a serious injury or condition that needed to be treated at the Vevo office. How awkward would that be? People would be standing around, not knowing what to do. Other people might feel extremely uncomfortable because it’s so abnormal from the cultural norms of my company.
This is how I feel many churches are when it comes to the broken and hurting people. When I think about the environment of a church, I typically compare it to Vevo more than I do to a hospital. There’s plenty of ping pong tables but no operating tables. There’s mounds of candy but no real sustenance. Everyone’s seemingly well put together, and it’s in general a fun place to be, but what then happens for the people that are broken and in need of serious healing? What happens to the people who need mentorship and counseling?
These people get suppressed into fitting into the fun, consumer culture the church has regressed towards. Other people might have serious needs and may never know it because they’re never addressed.
My hope and prayer for the church I’m in is that we aren’t out of our element when a person is in need of healing. That we’re not frozen when someone asks why they would even need the Gospel.
Let’s instead be a church that understands how hard and exhausting it is to be a sanctuary for broken people.
Let’s instead be a church that not only knows how to have fun, but also knows that we work for the Great Physician.
Let’s be a church that can be better described as a hospital for the sick than as a daycare for the dead.
“And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” -Luke 5:30-32
Ever since I left college and entered into the post-education world, each year was able to provide for me a very clear and encapsulating theme in summary.
2009 - Out In The Ocean. This was the year of leaving the comfortable and entering into the great unknown. I felt like I had been floating along in this gentle stream for all my life, only to be thrust into a giant, haunting, endless body of water. My career path? Relationship future? Who knows? How do I know where to go?
2010 - From Vine To Vine. There were so many transitions this year. It gave me great clarity into many aspects of my life, at the expense of leaving what was comfortable. I left my part time job teaching guitar and found full-time work (after 4 months of searching). I left my church that I had been going to for over 10 years to go to TPC Joy. I even left my state to go to many different places (Japan, drove to New York, and Mexico).
2011 - Faith In Waiting. Not every year calls for immense change, and this was one of those years that felt like a standstill. Even though I felt like my life was stagnant, I knew God was active in teaching me. It wasn’t an easy year, but that’s not to say it wasn’t a fun one.
2012 - Clean sweep. This is the year that everything is going to change. I know it. When everything changes, what will my security and foundation be? I’ll know by the end of this year. God tends to show you what your biggest idols are when they’re threatened to be taken away, and everything about my life right now could possibly be changed or taken away.
2013 - A Clear View. This year, I believe it will truly be the year of revelation. Things in my life that I wasn’t sure about, like my purpose in being here, the reason why I have this spiritual gift set, and so on, will become clear this year. I see it as a clear view of a window that looks forward into the rest of my life.
Looking back, I’m not so sure that God revealed to me all these things this past year. I’ve grown in my convictions and my passion for the church, but I haven’t received a calling. One thing that I can say though is that it was made clear this year who I’d be searching with. I thank God for the gift of getting engaged, and am looking forward to marriage in the coming year.
2014 - Overflow. One of the most influential quotes to me this year was from Rick Warren when he said “Let the size of your God determine the size of your dream”. The phrase “Wait and See” was in my heart, but I have faith that God will do so much while I wait and I see. I have faith that my cup will be filled to the brim, that it’ll spill over.
One of the top news stories of the day was the millions of people flocking to the millions of dollars in the MegaMillions payout - $636 MM. Even my co-workers started a pool so that they could buy some tickets. As tempted as I was to join (only $5 to buy a few tickets!), I knew in my heart I was being tempted for a fleeting dream that had a 1 in 259,000,000 chance of coming true.
The question that most haunted me was, “Could I forgive myself for foregoing the possibility of millions by giving only $5?”
After wrestling for awhile, I decided not to go through with it. Even though $5 is not a lot of money, I felt that God was teaching me a lesson about the idea of small investment, huge return.
You are tempted with the thought of losing a little for the chance of gaining a lot.
What I ask of you is to give up what little you have for the guarantee of riches beyond measure.
God is calling us to forego the pursuit of “things of future garage sales” (as coined by Matt Chandler) so that we can see it for what it is - rubbish, compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ. (Phil. 3:8)
We have a guaranteed payout. A sure thing. A winning ticket. It’s worth much more than $636 million dollars. Yet we live as though knowing the God of the universe is a burden. It’s a chore. It’s a discipline. We live as though His streets aren’t paved with gold, that He doesn’t care for our needs, and that He’s not powerful enough to provide for us.
Even as I write this now I see the silliness in my thinking. The question I have to ask myself now is this:
Could I forgive myself for foregoing the possibility of infinite blessing by giving only my life?
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. -Matthew 13:44
Growing up, we develop in ourselves a set of values and expectations that govern how we feel an organization, club, or friendship should act. This is instilled in us from the year that we’re born, and especially when we enter into education.
We’re taught in school that good efforts get rewarded and praised, while bad efforts and bad behaviors get punished and reprimanded. Our parents are involved in every aspect of our education to ensure that we are able to perform at the highest level possible.
We’re taught in clubs that common interests and hobbies are what bring people together. Similarly, we learn that friendships often derive from these common interests and shared experiences.
We’re also inundated in our lives with constant entertainment. We pay hundreds of dollars to be entertained, and some of our culture’s biggest voices are entertainers (see Top Twitter Users - 3 music stars rank higher than our own President). We love good performances and idolize those that perform well, whether it’s music, sports, or theatre.
Then when we gather together on Sundays under a building no different from the ones that we’re in 5 days a week plus a wooden cross, we bring these deep, deep assumptions in with us.
We get disciplines and habits forced upon us and expect to perform.
We are discouraged when we can’t find anyone that is likeminded to us.
We sit in our comfortable chairs and expect to be entertained, and ask things like “Did you like the sermon?” like one would after a Lady Gaga Concert.
I’m realizing more and more that I have to re-think what I believe church to be, and unlearn the things that our culture has taught us.
When the entire world around us teaches us to live for ourselves, I need to constantly be reminded that Jesus calls me to die to myself.
Church is not a place to be judged based on what we do and what disciplines we partake in — we all have fallen short of the glory of God, and we are saved by Jesus’ good works, not our own. (Romans 3:23, Ephesians 2:8-9)
Church is not so much a place for people to find friends as it is a place for people to realize their family. (Romans 8:14-15)
Church is not a passive, lean-back entertainment experience — it is a fight, a struggle, a war against the powers and principalities of this world. (Ephesians 6:12)
Selfishness, greed, and indulgence are expected and encouraged in our culture, but I pray that these do not define the members of the Kingdom that God has made holy.
"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” - Romans 12:1-2
This past Tuesday I had the opportunity to take the day off and drive with Deborah to go Color Hunting, which is a cool way to say we wanted to see colorful trees. I’m surprised more people don’t care much about it, because it’s just about the most fascinating thing I’ve seen in my year at New York so far.
It was surreal to see the trees slowly start to turn from entirely green to spots of yellow and red to entire forests full of color as we drove for two hours. This is the kind of view that I’ve dreamt about, and was definitely one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to in my life.
After speaking to some of the locals though, we realized that we had just missed peak color by a couple days. That started to get to me. Then we noticed that mostly everywhere else was not yet full color yet. That started to get to me.
And I found myself slightly dissatisfied at the beauty that was before me, which led to me feeling disgusted that I would be dissatisfied at the beauty that was before me.
It was then that I understood better what C.S. Lewis said in his famous quote:
“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”
I still feel like there’s a beauty that I haven’t yet seen, like a home that I haven’t yet come back to. I could see all that the world has to offer, and not feel at rest anywhere.
So while I live the rest of my days on this leased body, I’m going to remember what Jesus told His Disciples:
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” -John 14:1-3
Yes, there will be a mansion with many rooms, roads made of precious jewels, and endless beauty, but God promises much more than that - He promises that we’ll be with Him. That’s the home that we should long for, that’s the place that we’ve all been missing, and even though we won’t experience its fullness until the other side of death, we can experience His presence now, today.
I live in Queens, NY, but I have a home that’s more beautiful than the Catskills.
I first started writing in my journal when I was about 11 years old. It was a Tare Panda journal, and I was pretty diligent in writing every day, and every day it was pretty much about girls and wondering if they liked me.
The reason why I am so glad that I wrote in the past is because I get a glimpse of who I was back then, and how much I’ve grown since then. I have an intimate view of how I thought and what I loved and hated. But if you wanted to know more about who I am today, the last thing I would do is give you my journal - I am not the same person who wrote in those journals 15 years ago.
When I read the bible, sometimes I forget how relevant it is to us today. The culture may have been drastically different, the language and styles may be ancient, but God has been the same since the beginning of time.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. -Hebrews 13:8
While one may understand in part who I am when reading journals no older than a few years, we have access to who God is today through the Bible.
The heart that cared for, protected, disciplined, and loved Israel is the same heart that loves us believers today (Romans 9:26).
The heart that delighted over Israel with love and singing delights over us today (Zephaniah 3:17, Romans 2:29).
The heart who, for the joy set before Him endured the cross, still deems that we’re worth the sacrifice of His perfect life today (Hebrews 12:2-3).
Our faith is utterly dependent on this truth. Our delight in reading the age-old bible comes from this truth. So why do we read the bible feeling that it’s outdated and irrelevant to us today?
Of old you laid the foundation of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you will remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away,
but you are the same, and your years have no end.
Over two years of long distance will give you a love/hate relationship with the airport.
We loved the days anxiously waiting for the other to arrive.
We hated the nights driving away from the person we felt like we knew so well, yet didn’t really know.
For what was one of the first times, we were on the same plane together. After moving to New York, we finally came to the realization that our plane tickets could be bought together. We needed someone else to pick us up from the airport.
It was for this reason that I knew without a doubt I’d propose to Deborah at JFK. I made sure to incorporate some of the things that she loved the most - music, friends, family, and a little spontaneity.
Check out how it all went down!
It is not such an easy thing
When two people are far away
Like we were
And though I could call you at anytime
I wished the distance from our phone lines was nearer
Everytime you felt jetblue
you’d head southwest
and I’d be waiting there for you
and though we were apart we were
United in the heart but baby
Here we are now
At the runway of our lives
Waiting for us to take flight
Are you ready?
'Cause after three whole years have gone
Flying solo far too long
I’ve been thinking
No point in waiting
I’m just gonna say it now
If you’d asked me, you wouldn’t have gotten a decent answer. It was true - I honestly felt like my room wasn’t that messy, everything was just…convenient to access. I could say with 85% confidence where any single thing in my room was, or so I had hoped.
Then I had company come over. Out of nowhere I felt a shock of fear. They didn’t have to say anything - I knew immediately from the anxiety of having to show them my room. The door swung shut and I kept the guests in the living room, but Deborah caught on. Later that night I showed her my horrendous situation in shame, and the following day she helped me clean everything up.
Isn’t it strange how easily a situation can become more chaotic without us being aware of it? That’s how I feel with certain sins in my life. Habits that I thought were normal or even righteous were actually harmful and unloving when exposed to other people. Sometimes even reading the Word will convict me of a sinful habit, tendency, or attitude that I never knew of (my current conviction is Romans 12:10 - honor one another).
In Luke 15, Jesus tells the story of the lost son. Here’s a young man who takes a huge portion of his father’s inheritance and lives the life. After some time though, he starts to realize that he’s run out of money and needed a job, especially with a famine coming.
”So he went and hired himself out to[a] one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs.” (Luke 15:15)
Was this the life that he was hoping for after taking his father’s money and bolting? Not at all! This situation became more chaotic without him knowing.
Sometimes, the Lord takes us to the troughs of animals so that we can “come to our senses” like it states in v. 17.
If it were up to me, I would much rather be accountable to the company of God-given community than be miserable in the company of pigs.
It’s March 25th, well into springtime, and we just had a snow flurry for the majority of the day in New York. As much as I love seeing the snow fall from the 25th floor of my Times Square building, I’m starting to sense the urgency for spring. On the streets, you can just sense that winter has extended its stay for far too long. After all, no matter how many days you’ve felt the bitter wind on your face, it’s never something you really get used to.
Looking forward, we see that winter isn’t the only season with its set of challenges.
After winter comes a time of new birth, and a time of fresh allergies.
After spring comes a time of sunny days, and a time of hot, humid nights.
After summer comes a time of vibrant color, and a time of school.
In one of the most poetic sections of scripture, the writer of Ecclesiastes 3 describes all of life in this way:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
The one thing that holds true to every season we experience is that they change. The trees will start a new life cycle, and so will our future families. The snow will eventually cease to fall, and so will our tears.
Read verse 1 again though: "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”
It then struck me like a ton of bricks - while this may be true for us under heaven, it will not be true for us while in heaven. How do I know this?
The seasons may change, but Jesus never does.
Our feelings may come and go, but Jesus remains faithful.
What Jesus reveals to John in Revelation is astounding: at the end of the age, there will come a time when the seasons of life will be no more.
There will be a time when there is no time to weep, only laughter.
No time of war, only peace.
No time of killing, only healing.
No time of death, only everlasting, eternal, unending, unchanging, all-fulfilling, solely joyful, sinless, life!
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold,the dwelling place[a] of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,[b] and God himself will be with them as their God.[c] 4He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” -Revelation 21:1-4
Oh, how I long for the day one hundred thousand years from now when I can look back at this beautifully written poem of wisdom in Ecclesiastes and find it to be incredibly outdated!
Honestly though, can you imagine a more irritating sound than a person banging away on a drumset with no desire to play it appropriately? It sounds horrendously loud, incessantly rude, and causes my hands to fill my ears with anything that can drown the sound out.
Yet on the flip side, is there anything more powerful and driving than an experienced drummer playing to the fullest of his passion and strength along with a band? It carries the band to levels of intensity it could never go without one.
It’s interesting that both are making the same sounds at around the same volume, yet one is painful, the other is powerful. One is annoying, the other is amazing.
I found examples of this kind of distinction in the bible in two different passages:
"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” - 1 Corinthians 13:1
"Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!” - Psalm 150:5
Both are audibly the same, yet are used in completely different contexts. One is detestable, the other is delightful. One is woeful, the other is worshipful.
After much thought, I came to the conclusion that there was a difference - a huge one, but not one that can be heard - it’s about motivation.
There are people who hit cymbals just to be heard. These are the people that do things without being motivated by love like mentioned in 1 Corinthians. These are the people that pray out loud on the streets so that other people can recognize and acknowledge them. These are the people that boast about their knowledge to make them feel superior to others. Paul warns us against having this kind of attitude.
Then there are people who hit cymbals for a greater purpose. These are the people that see the value of playing in a part of a band. These are the people who want to hit cymbals as hard as they can to make God look good, not themselves. These are the people that are obviously motivated by something other than seeking attention and fame for themselves.
The crazy part? Even a talented musician can serve with the wrong intentions and be like white noise to God. Even a novice can play poorly out of a worshipful heart and be a sweet, sweet sound to God.
So I’m left with this reality check: What is my motivation in serving God today?
(The Circle of Fifths. Music is so mathematical and beautiful!)
While in many ways I don’t consider myself established enough to be a professional musician, I pride myself in my knowledge of music theory. With it, I can predict where songs are going, replicate them after they’ve been played once, and come up with fairly decent songs simply because I am so familiar with the structure of chords and melodies.
At the same time, mastering music theory does not mean that one will have a successful music career, or that everything you write will be a great song (I can definitely attest to that). Paul McCartney is famous for purposely not learning music theory, and he’s had some success in writing songs, I think.
The strange thing about utilizing music theory in songwriting is that I believe it has some disadvantages:
This isn’t the point of gaining knowledge! It’s better not to learn at all than to learn and be stuck with those three realities. What really should be happening is best said in James 1:22-25.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.
Back in California, I was proud in my sense of direction. I always knew my frame of reference because I was accustomed to where the sun would set. It didn’t matter if I was in a remote area of California that I had never explored, I rarely ever felt like I didn’t even know which direction I was going.
In New York, my internal compass that was so finely tuned in California is now completely thrown off. Even after working here for two months, I have to think twice about which direction I’m going. My confidence in exploring uncharted land has dwindled to me becoming very dependent on Google Maps (which, by the way, has still caused more issues for me than Apple Maps).
While part of the reason this has happened is because I’m in new surroundings, I mostly blame the buildings and the weather. After all, how can I get accustomed to the sun when I’m constantly dwelling in the shadows of massive skyscrapers? How am I supposed to know where the sun is when it’s near-dark in the middle of the day?
Upon dwelling on my directional frustrations, I remembered that our spiritual lives definitely need a compass. This is what the psalmist is talking about in Psalm 119:
How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
Being in a bustling, wild, and extravagant city like New York, I can honestly say that it’s easy to lose sight of what’s truly important. Luxuries surround my senses, joyous drinking and “nights to forget”, heightened sexuality (especially in certain parts of Times Square) - all these things serve as manmade distractions which block out the Son.
Then there are horrific tragedies like Hurricane Sandy and the Newton shooting (which was only about 60 miles from NYC) – abominable things that make it seem as though the Son was never there.
But just because I don’t see or feel the Son doesn’t mean that He’s not there. Just because other things are in the way does not negate His constant presence.
Jesus Christ, the true Son of God, has made it very apparent that “that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
If Christ is my compass, then how can I ever be lost?