Monday, March 18, 2013

Teenagers, Booze, and Grace - Oh my!

I am still exploring the scandalous Jesus.

However, I have come to a couple of conclusions:

1. I am too busy to blog all of my thoughts.

2. Jesus uses young people to speak his word.

3. Giving up stuff for Lent is totally a creation of the church.

4. Jesus will still die for me everyday so that I can know God's love everyday, no matter what I do.

Number one speaks for itself.

We went on a trip to see our dear friends JJ and Tessa and while at their church God spoke to me. He didn't speak through the Lenton devotional by Henri Nouwen that Danny and I read that morning. He didn't speak through the the sermon on the same topic. Instead, he spoke through a sophomore boy. I couldn't tell you what the young man said, but at that moment, I heard Jesus say I am right here. I have everything you need. I felt filled. I felt a peace I haven't felt in awhile. Most of society do not think that our youth have much to offer. In a comercial for Tully's coffee, it is the adult that literally does all the talking. Just the other day one of my students lamented that we (adults) never give them any place to speak. We are all just waiting for teenagers to "grow-up". I don't have any Biblical proof, but Jesus did not use adults to speak to me, but a young person. What would happen if the world gave young people more space to speak? It would cause a bit of disruption in our churches, because, trust me, young people do not always say things in the most eloquent way, but they may be saying what our hearts need to hear.

On the topic of giving stuff up. I have given up alcohol for Lent. I have also broken my fast twice. One night I got a bottle of wine with then intention of seeing what would happen if I broke my fast on a non-Sunday (apparently the rules of Lent-giving-up state that you get a break on Sunday, because it is a day of rest). I realized walking home, that it didn't matter. My salvation was secure. God said it didn't matter if I broke these "rules". He said he would love me no matter what rules I break. I also googled it and fasting during the 40 days leading up to Lent is a convention the early church created in order to facilitate a deeper understanding of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

At the same time, I have been challenged with not being disciplined enough. Today, I had a glass of wine. Today it wasn't a test of boundaries. Today it was because I had a lot of grading, Danny has been absent while he finishing end-of-the-quarter projects, and I am lonely. If I had some wine, was I a bad Christian? Was I filling the hole with something other than Jesus? Again, as I walked home from the bus I felt God's unconditional love like I haven't felt in a long time. I felt free from having to be the perfect Christian. I felt free to fail. I felt God holding me in his arms and saying that he would be there to help me cope.

Lent may be about understanding Jesus' suffering and sacrifice, but Jesus understands the suffering I see everyday, the self-sacrifice it takes to love my students, and the daily refinement happening in my heart. During my time of imperfect fasting, his resurrection has been felt more keenly than any other day this year.

I have given up alcohol for Lent once in college. I broke the fast only once, for Saint Patrick's day, and I never felt the grace of God like I have during this Lent season. I am f*ed up and am tired of pretending I am not.

What would happen if I held firm to my fast? Would I be blessed by feeling the depth of grace God has for me? Would I feel in my soul his deep love that compelled him to send his son to death? Possibly, but maybe not. Jesus chose to meet me in my unlawfulness with a glass of wine in hand, which is a substance that has a tense relationship with those in the church. If that isn't scandalous, I don't know what is.

So far, my Jesus has been found in a teenager's humble words, a bottle of wine, and some honest self reflection.

1 comment:

  1. God has been speaking to me daily through my 2 year old! It's humbling. But I understand so many spiritual analogies now that I am parenting. A favorite: Callen is a really picky eater. After battling unsuccessfully to get him to eat something delicious and nutritious, he walks over to the trash and starts eating spoiled food. In my frustration, God tells me "how many times do you reject things that are good for you and exchange them for lies?" Yikes!