Nothing! Everything!

There’s a scene in the movie “Kingdom of Heaven” in which the character defending Jerusalem asks the character besieging it, “What is Jerusalem worth?” The two have just concluded negotiating peace by the surrender of the city with no harm to its people. The numbers are clearly on the attacker’s side, but victory by violence will cost – has already cost – many, many lives. The response to the question: “Nothing! Everything!” There is so much meaning in those two simple words, especially when put together like that.

As I considered what to call today’s post, that scene came to mind. I was looking back on my journal from April 2010 -an entry entitled “What do I believe God for?” and that “Nothing! Everything!” answer struck me as fitting for so many questions:

– What’s changed in six years?
– What do I believe God for?
– What can I ask of my readers?
– What can I accomplish right now, right this moment?

What’s changed in six years? Here’s what I wrote 4/7/10:

“Feeling … overwhelmed by all that I think I should do/be doing – futuristically; attempting/planning too many things – without word from God? Promise? What promise is from Him vs for myself?”

This overwhelmed feeling is quite familiar to me. But what’s new is my realization that for much of 2014-15, I could literally do nothing or very little due to my health, and I had experienced a break from it. I could have no immediate plans, other than an acceptance of whatever God would bring next. What do I believe God for? Life or death. Everything or nothing. This is the peace that surpasses, I am sure. Have I learned how to feel it now that I am ‘healed’?

What am I, really, right now?

Back then, I was husband, father, part-time employed, looking to change careers to one of helping ‘the least of these’. Today, I am first God’s, then Barb’s, and a person living “recovery” in many ways. I’m physically unhealthy. I sometimes feel fine, but dialysis three times a week, for four hours at a sitting (and then needing to sleep the rest of the day) is evidence to the contrary.

I remain an addict – no longer to substances, but behaviorally I remain obsessive and compulsive, procrastinating, avoiding, and isolating. I have to watch myself for wanting mood alterations, reality alternatives and escapism, and self-destructive but pleasant-feeling activities. (Think the frog in the water being brought to a boil – it’s like a hot tub!)

I’m still a quitter, a project-non-finisher – like in a video game that I’d rather start over or just stop playing because I suck at it and am losing (according to the scoreboard). Except in life, there’s no do-overs.

Or are there? My journal entry for today:

For a time to come – only temporary, although longer-term – I’ve been given the circumstances of disability “income”, while I am second-chance careering-careening into writing, performing, entertaining – presentertaining – for God and Christ, sharing my testimony (Sharing God’s Story) for the glory of God. I have done none of this – He has made all possible. He will provide.

So, I am becoming a “sharerer” of testimony, of talents, of time. AKA a volunteer.

But what can I ask of my readers? Nothing, yet everything. I’ve visited churches where the offering is fully left to the people. There are boxes scattered about the meeting hall, and, if you feel you’ve been served, you donate money. Otherwise, you contribute whatever service you can. Everything you can. Or nothing. And I hear of restaurants based on the same principle: the customer gives whatever amount he or she feels is deserved. Or the “pay it forward” places, where customers purchase in advance for those who can’t afford. I wonder if the recent appeal of socialism is some kind of moral off-shoot of this concept.
I wonder I can ask my readers and listeners to support me?

And now I’m a grandparent. My children have chronologically matured, and need me for less – or, at least, need me in different ways. I can’t even begin to tell you about this newness yet. Nothing! Everything! (More on this later.)

It comes down to what I can accomplish in just this moment. Nothing! Everything! Because life is right now, one step, one moment at a time. The Bible says to Rejoice Always, Pray without Ceasing, and in Everything, Give Thanks. It teaches us to live the fruit of the spirit: peace, joy, love, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It gives hints on how to be a good husband and parent (or grandparent). It holds the clues on how to continue…

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Prayer CHECKLIST

God, bring

Comfort where there must be loss,
Healing where there is sickness,
Endurance where there is much to do/be done
Charity where there is need/much lacking
Knowledge and Awareness of you, working through personal miracles and experiences
Love where there is any hate or anger
Inspiration where there is dull existence
Strength, Security, and Serenity where there is weakness
Trust and Thanksgiving where there is fear, despair, doubt and worry

In Jesus’ life-changing name…
In every joy-filled moment of this day you have made…

It was never going to work between me and Bose…

It was never going to work between me and Bose. I was a contract seasonal-support person-in-training – my first week on the job. What a great opportunity! Relatively good pay, a pathway to full-time employment with the company instead of the temp agency.

But I’ve never been one to pay luxury prices for anything, especially not $300+ for a bedside alarm clock. There just should not be such a thing, y’know? (Later on, perhaps we can discuss my latent socialistic tendencies.)

So, there I was, during my first week of training. I wise-cracked, and poked fun at a product they’d discontinued shortly after introduction. (IOW, it failed big-time, right?) I got plenty of laughs – even from the two Bose instructors. I also got asked not to come back for the second week. “Too confrontational.” I thought I was just being entertaining, but I imagine they didn’t see that my attitude would go over too well with their customer base (especially the ones who were late because their $300 alarm didn’t go off.)

Like I said, it was never going to work.

Looking back on it, it was a lesson on relativity – one that I completely missed. I wasn’t ready for it, even though I was a year or two into my own journey of transformation. At that time, I just couldn’t take seriously the complaints of some one who could afford to spend – who would want to spend – $300 on a clock radio.

I hadn’t yet learned that a problem is a problem, a sin is a sin, and that some people can handle huge messes with complete capability while others get flustered by a broken nail. – Wait, that’s sexist. “While others get floored by something much less complicated.” Is that PC enough? The things which cause us great trouble can seem trivial to others.

And it’s how we, as “good and wise” people treat any of them – those cool, calm, and collected or stressed-out to the max – that shows who we truly are, and is the lesson of today’s verse:

Proverbs 10:8 The wise accept instruction, but fools argue and bring trouble on themselves.
Or verse :14 Wise people are quiet and learn new things, but fools talk and bring trouble on themselves.

My trouble was continued unemployment. But, hey, I’ve got to run. The alarm on my $600 iPhone is going off.