Good Favor. . .



I’ve had this itch for awhile.  No, not like a rash or anything.  Just this minor perturbance in my psyche, or maybe my soul?  Something just under the surface letting me know that something’s missing.  Something’s not quite right.


I’ve felt so distant from God.  I can’t remember the last time I actually enjoyed my devotions.  I used to read the Bible, and the words were such life to my weary bones.  But now, it’s just words. 


Worship hasn’t been enjoyable for months.  I mean, every once in awhile, I feel stuff, but it just hasn’t been authentic.  I mean, like when you’re worshipping, and you’re absolutely broken.  You’re brought so low in humility, that you can do nothing but lie prostrate before Him.


I used to have this understanding of grace.  There was this period in my life where I got it, I mean I actually got it!  I was just living in it, and marvelled by it.  But somehow, it lost all its wonder.


Isn’t that disturbing?  I mean, if you’re not living in grace, what else is there?  What’s it all for?


While shopping for Christmas presents at Borders last week, I happened to run by Philip Yancey’s “What’s So Amazing about Grace?”  I’m not sure why I bought it.  It was total whim . . . or maybe some incognito divine influence. 


Reading it has really brought all this to the forefront of my mind though.  I really, really miss walking in God’s grace. . . knowing that it abounds much more than my sins.  I miss talking to God and relating to Him on a heart level.  I don’t know how He got relegated to just my head . . . but that’s where He’s been the past few months.  I don’t know why I haven’t been challenged (nor growing) spiritually by the Bible studies or the teachings at Trinity.  I’m tempted to think that maybe it’s wholly internal, yet – by my observation – I can’t say that I’ve seen a whole lot of growth in the people around me either. 


It seems that the only thing that has stirred my heart recently has been my study of postmodern stuff.


By the way, I got “In Search of God Knows What” (the most recent book by Donald Miller, author of “Blue Like Jazz”) and I must say I am NOT disappointed thus far!  Miller is absolutely hilarious in his writing style, yet so amazingly profound at the same time.  Go pomo Christians!


I digress.  


I’m just being brought closer and closer to the truth that I pray will someday sustain me: Christ is all I need.  I feel closer to Him tonight than I’ve felt in ages.  My prayer has been . . .


Lord, I miss you

I miss lavishing you with the praise you deserve

I miss being consoled by your mere presence

I need you

I want you

Fill me with your grace

Let me breathe it, swim in it

Let it be so thick that I suffocate in it

No other will do

No one, No thing will suffice

Only you

It must be you

I don’t know what God is doing.  I wish I had some clue.  I just know that tonight is a good night.  Tonight, I’m satisfied with His presence.  Tonight, I remember what it’s like to walk in God’s grace, and to desire Him with all that is within me. 

ARE WE ALL MISERABLE?


So I was talking to one of my best friends the other night.  I love Paul so much because he doesn’t let me just be rebellious . . . he makes me face the issues in my life.  And after talking with him about some stuff, I got real honest with God, and was able to get myself together.  So I’m not feeling quite as defiant as I was a week ago.


One of the folks in my Bible study this week began to ask why is it that she’s so up and down all the time . . . feeling as if she’s doing something wrong.  I kind of waxed philosophical and asked if maybe the ups and downs are simply just part of life . . . maybe she’s not doing ANYTHING wrong, maybe there’s NOTHING wrong with her faith . . . maybe God is just maturing her by taking her through some hard times.


Though I made the statements, I wasn’t quite sure they were true.  I guess I’ve got all this evangelical brainwashing in me that says that to be a Christian means that you’re supposed to be oh so joyful all the time.  Yet, I look at ALL of my Christian friends, and none of them are happy-go-lucky people right now.  No one.  Why is that?  Is it because this Jesus we love and serve isn’t real? Are we all just playing games with ourselves?  Or are we all just doing it wrong?


I talked about this w/ Lance on Friday.  I was just kinda like “So Lance, is everyone on the planet miserable?”  His simple response: “Yes.”  It’s the nature of sin. As long as we have this flesh, we are miserable.  And we only make ourselves MORE miserable by refusing to accept this tension, ever trying to reach some state of sustained happines.  Unfortunately, there’s nothing Christian about such an approach . . . it’s rather Hindu actually . . . a futile attempt at acheiving Nirvana.


So the last few days have actually been pretty cool.  NOT because all my problems are solved, but simply because I’ve moved into a healthy acceptance of the fact that life just sucks sometimes – especially at this age, in this country.  But God hasn’t left me . . . He will walk me through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  I’m not gonna be a victim.  I’m just gonna accept that this is the way it is, and let myself mature through the process.


And you know what helps?  Good friends.  Damn, there’s just nothing like a good friend to talk to.  The “Friend of the Week Award” once again goes to my boy Chris.  He’s so diligent at pursuing my heart, and showing such a genuine interest in learning about my struggles, and how the Church can help folks like me.  It truly, truly honors me.  I wish everyone was as humble and as willing to walk with me through the rough roads, and question things with me (instead of trying to give me a religiously spoon-fed answer), and hold me up when I’m weak and rebellious (to have faith FOR me when I can’t seem to conjure any of my own).  I’m also greatful to some other folks at EPIC (like Audrey ) and elsewhere (my Dad) for just being there and listening, and being humble enough to say “I don’t know.”  I wish more Christians could learn that lesson . . . because the more I come to know, the more I realize I don’t know anything.  Sometimes, the best answer to a question (and the answer that reveals your own wisdom) is simply “I don’t know, but I trust . . . “


So yeah, we’re all miserable – in that Ecclesiastes, existential sorta way.  But if there’s anyone out there who’s willing to accept the tension, and wants grow closer to Christ – to be strong and mature, and fall madly, deeply in love with Him . . . please let me know.  Our group is currently accepting applications

HOLD YOUR HORSES!


Yeah, that’s right . . . hold your horses, kids!  Get off my back about my lack of updating!  Sheesh!


Anywho . . . Papa’s home.


Florida was . . . well, it was what it was.


Residencies . . . When I got there, I was completely overwhelmed, and felt woefully unprepared.  However, I just sorta dug in right away, started going to tables, and asking for psych residency info.  They then proceeded to sign me up for interviews.  Simple.


I had about 3 interviews that first day, another 3 the next day, and a final interview on Tuesday.  I think so far, I’m in the same place.  Not really sure what I want to do, or where I want to go.  I think 2 of the U of Texas spots I interviewed for just took themsevles too seriously.  They kinda want you to do a concurrent M.S. in pharmacy program.  Are you KIDDING me?  ANOTHER year of training, and classes, and being poor?  I think not.


There was another place in Texas I was interested in . . . a spot in San Antonio.  Only problem is that it’s with the VA, and the program director wasnt sure if the VA would pay me since I haven’t had a general practice residency first.  So I may not even get to apply to that one.  We’ll see.


I’m still considering staying here at good ol’ UMB.  But there were two surprise spots.  UNC Chapel Hill is starting a residency this year, and the director seemed to really like me.  On the ride down there, I sat next to one of my professors (I’ll tell that story later) who happened to go to UNC . . . so she put in a good word for me, and she says she already knows an awesome church she thinks I’d like.  Plus, the program seems to be a lot like the one in Bmore, so it’s right up my alley.  The final seat of promise comes from Nova Southeastern University . . . a pretty cool pharm school in Ft. Lauderdale.  I’ve never heard of the school, but the pictures look really nice!   But the people I interviewed with seemed a little bit laid back for me . . . plus the program isn’t ASHP accredited.  So that one’s probably more of a fallback one at this point.


As you see, there are lots of choices.  Some of them are actually GOOD!  So we’ll see.  I kinda worry about leaving all of my support here . . . but then again, I also realize my support here isn’t quite substantial in the first place, so . . .


Other than that, life is . . .well, it is what it is.


Special props go out to Michael, Canadian John, and Audrey for their concern, and for their desire to keep me out of trouble.  I appreciate the love.  Immensely.  You’ll never know how much it means to me.  And one unamed great buddy who called lots during the week, just b/c he’s that awesome.  Yeah, mad love your way.  Wish I could say it did some long-term good, but that’s likely not the case.  More on that in the protected post below . . .

A TRIBUTE TO MEGYN . . .


About 3 weeks ago at Bible study, I was stunned by news from my dear friend Megyn that she was going to be returning to South Africa.  I knew that she’d have to go back at SOME point, but for some reason, I never thought it would be so soon


I met Megyn shortly after coming to Trinity and joining the EPIC group.  I immediately fell in love with her warm smile and radiant personality (what can I say? I’m a sucker for an accent )


At first I thought she was just visiting America for a couple of weeks.  I remember when I went off to LA, I asked her “Am I ever gonna see you again???”  She politely told me to chill . . . she’d be in America for quite some time. 


That time seems to have flown by, and it didn’t bother to ask me whether or not I was cool with that.  Time has a way of doing its own thing like that.  It’s rather annoying.


So when I found out she was going off, I helped plan a special goodbye dinner for her . . . at one of her favorite restaurants: the Cheesecake Factory.


After a scrumptious dinner, we went into the mall to pray for her, and yes, I admit, I shed a few.  And when I hugged her goodbye, I didn’t want to let her go.


Thing is, I don’t know why she affects me so much.  It’s not like we’ve stayed up late at night sharing our souls or anything.  There’s really nothing especially deep or close about our friendship.  I guess it’s just the way she makes me smile, just by her presence.  You can’t really underestimate how important that is. Well, *I* can’t anyway . . . when you spend as many nights as I do weeping, you tend to really enjoy the people who can put a smile on your face.  And Megyn is one of very few people that just brightens my day, just by talking to her. 


Megyn, I hope you get to read this.  I hope you have a safe flight home.  I pray that you’ll continue to be a blessing.  I’ll never forget you.  Thank you for being a source of joy for a man who’s constantly toiling. Thank you for being so kind, and always willing to laugh, even when I’m being completely idiotic.  You have no idea how much you’ll be missed here.  God bless you.  Hope you can return some day soon. {{{{HUG}}}}


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In other news, I think I’m beginning to feel a lot more comfortable with my preceptor.  She’s a firecracker, for sure.  I’m not sure many Christians would be able to “handle” her . . . she’s pretty wild.  I mean, let’s face it, she makes ME uncomfortable sometimes!  It takes a lot to do that! LOL.


But I found something very comforting in her today.  I found a freedom to be me.  I found a way to see into her heart, and I think she and I really understand each other.


It’s kinda sad, really.  I feel more freedom to be me when I’m with her, yet I never seem to find this same freedom with Christians – not even ones I’m pretty close to.  I’m not sure why it is so many people are uncomfortable with being real. 


Though, I must admit there are a few exceptions to that rule.  Take my boy Ahmun, for example.  I had such a good time talking with him tonite after dinner.  It’s so refreshing to find a Christian who understands what sin is all about, what grace is all about, what love is all about, what righteousness is all about.  That’s why I hate the fact that he’s not really part of our Bible study anymore . . . because he’s really the only one that knows what it means to be real . . . he’s the only one I feel comfortable being me around.  I’m not sure how we landed on so many similar ways to view Christ, either – considering we come from COMPLETELY different backgrounds.  Yet, there’s rarely anything he says that I don’t agree with. 


It’s comforting to find a kindred spirit.  It’s comforting to know that there are some folks out there that get me.  That get “it”.  It gives me hope to continue building and growing within the Church – despite how many times I’ve been burned by the institution.  None of my non-Christian friends understand why I stick with it.  I can’t blame them for their lack of faith . . . I too find it hard to have much hope.  But thank God for the Ahmuns in the Church . . . they make me feel like it’s somehow worth the pain of the perpetual bruisings, because when you finally find that pearl, you know you’ll never let it go.  You can’t afford to.


Peace and love, my brothas and sistas.