Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Brain dead

I am praying for my brain to come back.

I'm not sure what happened.

Stress? Fatigue? Burn out? Fear? Trauma?

I got to a point where I just couldn't focus. I can't focus. When I try to focus, I get a headache, not a migraine, but a dull, thudding sensation in my head. And then my eyes burn and my thoughts wander uncontrollably.

Today was beautiful, gorgeous, an unbelievable March day in Syracuse. The sky was blue, the sun was bright, and it was about 63 degrees. I took David, Laura and Jonathan to Beaver Lake and we hiked the Lake Loop trail. Laura was taking pictures, and DJ and Jon were brother-bonding with walking sticks and a Frisbee. So I took off on my own and wandered into a time of praying and talking to God under the bare branches and all the bright sunshine that filters through them before they grow leaves. It was the first time I have felt balanced and focused in ages.

Ideas used to come to me, things I wanted to write about. I am in a dry spell: a dry, dull ache in the head-neck-shoulder kind of spell.

I did have a thought, while I was walking and looking at nature and communing with the Lord.

Often I feel guilty, because I am an introvert and I don't go out and tell people about Jesus. I don't even have any desire to "go out" and tell people about Jesus. I would love to chat with people about Jesus, people I know, over coffee, calmly. I would love for them to ask me questions and for me to be able to page through my Bible and help them find answers. I'd even be plenty willing to share life experiences with people, to open my heart to them and discuss the deep private things together. But I have absolutely no desire to "go out" and find random people to tell. And I don't like the idea of manipulating conversations toward religious matters when I am with people who don't know Jesus. I want to be able to wait for the Spirit to direct their hearts to ask about Him.

This is not the style of sharing the gospel that is necessarily encouraged these days. Modern evangelical Christianity is sort of a system for extroverts, and I am an introvert, so I often feel like I don't fit in, and I usually feel guilty in my spare time.

Today as I was walking and praying, I was also thinking about my kids, probably because I was praying for them. Thinking about Laura led me to think about her photography, and how she was at that very same time working on a photography assignment. I looked at the sights around me and tried to see them through a photographer's eye; I looked for things I thought she might notice and photograph. In so doing, it came to my attention that there was a lot of the same. The same bare trees, the same twiggy branches, the same small pieces of leaf on the ground. Although the sights I saw were varied in some senses, the colors and textures and backgrounds were remarkably similar; I thought Laura might struggle to come up with an interesting collection of pictures.

The thought occurred to me that God created the earth with cycles and seasons. There are times of blossom and times of decaying leaves; times of bright sun and times of darkness; times of cold and times of heat; times when we are asleep and times when we are awake. It occurred to me that God does not judge me for not witnessing in every season of my life, every moment of every day. Just as physical life has times when we work and times when we rest, times when the ground produces and times when it lies fallow, times when the animals explore, hunt, mate, and times when they hibernate, so it is with spiritual life. In our spiritual lives, we sometimes produce and sometimes we rest in between production, and that is fine. It is all part of the Lord's plan.

I used to be haunted by Ephesians 5:15-16, "So be careful how you live. Don't live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days." The point is not that we must constantly be drumming up opportunities to talk about Jesus with people. The point is that we must constantly live like children of God, serving and loving Him, and looking forward to seeing Jesus in all His glory. If we focus on His glory, He will take care of providing the right opportunities at the right times. 1 Peter 3:15 says, "Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks you about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it." Always be ready to explain to someone who asks. I think it is often best just to wait until the Spirit prompts someone to ask; that's the safest way to avoid throwing your pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6).

Colossians 4:5-6 says, "Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone." Again, making the most of opportunities is related to living wisely, living virtuously, living out our faith in such a way that our differences are apparent and cause people to question us: "Why do you have peace at a time like this?" or "Why didn't you get angry?" or "How could you be kind to a person like that?" We are called to live in such a way that our behavior provokes questions and then we are to be ready to give the right response to explain the hope that we have.

It isn't about memorizing a smooth system to explain the salvation plan. It's about real people who are truly redeemed, loving a real God who gave His Son for us, learning and living out the true Word of God. It's about a real Spirit who comes to dwell within us and change us. And because it is all real, alive and true, it will ebb and flow like all the rest of God's creation, and there will be times of activity and times of rest.

"...a time to be quiet and a time to speak." (Ecclesiastes 3:7b)

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