Quiet Times

Moments of quiet contemplation amid placid waters, and tulips, while butterflies float by on soft summer breezes. Not likely. My brain and my life seem to be stuck in a competition to see who will be the first to make my head actually blow off my shoulders. “Simplify people… simp-li-fyyy!”.

Words I often speak to the walls, seeing as how at any given point, there are an average of 4 teenage girls in my apartment (the term “my” is used loosely) . One has ADD, who is absolutely passionate over my hypo-manic phases, and to be honest, she brings back the light behind my smile whenever it dims. Her sister is the quintessential teen in black, with eyes as bright as the harvest moon.

She is always quick with a hug, acting like a band-aide for emotional hemorrhaging. They are truly teens, completely equipped with rolling eyes, loud music, and a myriad of friends that give you cause to wonder if they have homes of their own. But for all the screaming, squealing, drama, and general emotional pandemonium, I have to admit, my brain’s keeping pace with my life.

Normally that would be a good thing, but I am having a hard time with the whole head ejecting from body aspect of the scenario. Others don‘t seem to have a problem with my cranial ejection, and are in fact insistent on contributing to it. There are those who offer up daily accounts of itineraries, with second by second recaps of “idiots”.

People they seem to think were placed here by God for the sole purpose of jacking up their schedule. The brain tweak comes in the form of knowing, at some later date, there will be a quiz about this onslaught of info that only Martha Stewart could pass… maybe.

Boss’ fall into the category of “brain tweak” as well. Always fretting over those pesky little things called details. If you are a nuclear engineer, or air traffic controller, I can understand. But even if you’re a 20 year banana peeler for apes, your boss will still tell you, “Remember… peel from the top down.”

Their incessant need to speak to me like Mr. Rogers, is surely having an adverse effect on my overall I.Q. rating. Add to the mix traffic jams, close talkers, car alarms, and Tammy Faye Baker, and you have a near complete severing of the last intellectual straps keeping my head intact.

There’s no getting around it, stress is a part of life, even though we fight it, avoid it, and otherwise try to relieve it, stress is still there. If it’s not a part of your life, then let me just say, I hate you, and I’m giving Tammy Baker your address. It’s an all inclusive club and membership is mandatory. For many Christians, stress takes on whole new forms, and comes from directions that can blind side us.

Yes, many of us know “… no servant is greater than his master.” and “The world will reject you just as they have rejected Me (Jesus)” but there are times when the stress of that rejection can be crippling. When the love, and vision, and heart of God that has been placed in you is taken, chewed up, spit out, and kicked around with no more concern than swatting a fly. But how can that be?

Serving a God that created the universe with a spoken word, who knows me inside and out and still loves me enough to allow His Son to suffer on my behalf, means going through life being kicked in the shins? Houston we have a problem. Initiate back-slide controls, and incessant whining… now.

Any time my mind ventures into thinking I can do a better job than God, images of being Dad to 8 billion children go screaming through my head, and I’m redirected by trying to regain control of my bladder functions. My conclusion is that God just might understand the concept of stress.

Yet, there is still this conflict of the reality of stress, and the idea that a Christian life is a free pass into life’s commuter lane. Free of traffic, free of Cadillac’s doing 45 with blinker on, free of speed bumps, debri, and construction zones. The problem is not in the stress, but in the misconception of its place in a Christian life.

God never intended us to be well waxed, scratch free, little red sports cars displaying license plate frames like “Get saved now, Ask me how” rolling by traffic in stress free comfort. Reading through the accounts of John the Baptist, Paul, Stephen, and others, visions of big tired, four wheelers run through my head. Dirty, and banged up, they go up mountains and through rut infested valleys, and for every ding, scratch, and lost part, there is a story of faith and growth. “Get in and hold on” should be embossed on the cover of every Bible.

Rhinos took on a whole new meaning for me recently. I came to realize, this massive expression of God’s creativity, has the capacity to run 30 miles per hour, but can only see 30 feet ahead of itself. Honestly, how much farther do they really need. Is the stress of a charging Rhino on him, or whatever is at 31 feet?

Perhaps the issue isn’t the stress that comes with a Christian life, but more an unwillingness to quit worrying about the unknown at 31 feet. Ironically enough, my biggest asset for stress relief is what most people consider a highly dangerous form of land transport, my bike.

Not the two wheels with peddles, no, we’re talking low, chrome, cubes, and pipes, motorcycle. Riding is my quiet time with God. My chance to contemplate the greater meaning of a deeper relationship with my creator, feeling His loving arms holding me close, and hearing His soft voice telling me peace, be still, as I go careening down a country road. But it’s that time out riding, when compared with every facet of my service to God, that is peace, that is still, deep within my soul. A few weeks back, Baby (yes my bike has a name) was my choice of transport to attend Sunday service, despite a down power that would have Noah crying out “I’m not finished yet!.”

Of course the rarity of not only a “biker” rolling up to church, but in that kind of weather, brought out the curiosity of more than a few members. Before long, I was asked if Baby was my only form of transportation. With a chuckle I replied no, that I also have a truck. “Oh.. So you’re just crazy.” came back at me, and without hesitation, I shot right back, “Yep, and I have a doctors note to prove it.”

And why shouldn’t Christians be crazy, or rather accept the fact they are crazy. To anyone unfamiliar with the principles of scripture, you are in fact out of your ever loving mind. You have dedicated your life to a God you can’t see, have conversations where you’re the only one talking called prayer, you study a book that makes no sense and claim it directs your life, fight a spiritual war with an invisible enemy that has spies everywhere, and are always trying to die to the flesh, with your end reward being a mansion on a golden cul-de-sac.

By the worlds standards, a Christian is a paranoid, schizophrenic suffering from delusions of grandeur. But unlike true mental illness, and the pain of coping with a near endless barrage of stereotypical judgments, and harassments, often resulting in hopelessness, Christians are given an opportunity to be strengthened.

Faith could be defined as a willful violation of all logic. Love is the willingness to sacrifice for others. Hope, where it all comes together, gives meaning and purpose to the first two. All three combined are the recipe for a healthy Christian existence of insanity.

For anyone not of the Christian faith, does all this mean an increase in taxes to pay for expansion of mental health treatment centers? Not at all, we already have them. There called church’s. If you have never been to one, I would encourage you to check it out. There is music and singing, clapping hands, lots of smiles and hugs, and an overall joy that comes from being a debt free heathen. Some people cry. Some people laugh.

Some people kneel, and some people stand. And just as this eclectic display of an emotional theme park reaches a climax of near pandemonium, we all sit down to listen to a man talk for an hour. If you ever had a doubt as to the mental stability of the average Christian, one trip to Sunday services, and you’ll be rock solid in your faith that we’re all nuts. But is that really a bad thing? Either way, life is stress, and nobody is immune to this.

The pain of this world, and more pointedly, of broken relationships, is a universal one. Consider the possibility that all the heartache you suffer from the loss of that meaningful relationship with a best friend, spouse, or even a child, is a reflection of a broken relationship with the One who created you. If you were to be given the chance to repair those sources of heartache, what would you do?

I'm not sure how to feel about that..

Copyright Stephen Surgener Jan 10, 2006

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