Music Monday | Terminal

A picture of a Meetinghouse steeple and clock

Death is the ever constant elephant in the room. Everyone knows about it, everyone knows it is eventually inevitable, yet rarely does anyone want to think or talk about it. Yet death, as cruel as it is, is a necessity in this world. Everything that is now alive in this world relies on something that died. The plants that sprout from the ground and feed animals and humans grow from the dirt – made of decomposed plants and animals that came before. Even in the new heaven and earth to come, all who live there will be alive because of Jesus’ death on the cross and dying to themselves.

Lately death has been on my mind. Perhaps it is kind of morbid, but it’s hard to not think of it, with all the stories on the news and all the young people I have known to meet untimely ends. Death is prevalent, and it isn’t going away until the day Jesus returns. It’s the elephant in the room we have to address if we want to live this life like the gift that it is. None of us are getting any younger, and none of us know how many days we have left. I’m in my twenties, but I’m just as mortal as anyone in their supposed “sunset” years.

“The doctor says I’m dying
I die a little every day
But he’s got no prescription that could
Take my death away
The doctor says it don’t look so good
It’s terminal.

Some folks die in offices one day at a time
They could live a hundred years
But their soul’s already dead
Don’t let your spirit die before your body does
We’re terminal, we’re terminal.”

“Terminal” – Jon Foreman

Every day is one day closer. And in the mundane tasks of everyday life, it’s easy to forget what a gift this life is. I find it very difficult to remember this as I get caught up in the pressures and stresses at work. Perhaps that’s why the line quoted above about folks dying in offices cuts so deep. Sometimes it feels like I’m wasting precious time, caught up in the drudgery of getting my work done and just surviving. It’s easy to take all the little things – like breath, food, friends, and nature – for granted. It’s easy to lose wonder in the world. It easy to fall to cynicism and frustration. It’s a fight everyday, but I refuse to let my spirit die one day at a time as I go about my work. I want to live for something more. I want to live for Someone more.

Not only that, but I want to live BECAUSE of Someone more, that is, Christ. My hope is that you want this too. And there comes the concept of death yet again. See, in order to be in Christ, one has to die. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” I am alive in Christ.  And I am alive in Christ because of Christ’s death 2,000 years ago. Yet this new, eternal life is currently housed in a mortal shell, a vessel that will die. And even though I have been born again of God, part of the promise is not yet realized and will not be so until the day Jesus returns. As Christians, we live in both the now and the not yet. For now, while we inhabit this world of tension between physical birth and death, so too our souls lives in the tension of being saved yet not fully resurrected.

“We are, we are the living souls
With terminal hearts, terminal parts
Flickering like candles, shimmering like candles
We’re fatally flawed in the image of God.”

“Terminal” – Jon Foreman

We are living souls with terminal bodies. So even as Christians, our physical predicament hasn’t changed. But because of the new life that God has given and because of His promises, we can live this life in our mortal shells with hope and purpose. Because of Christ’s death, we are free to live for and because of God. Because of Christ’s death, we can live this life with hope and with longing for a world we have not yet seen. Because of our own eventual deaths, we can live this life like the gift it truly is. We can flicker and shimmer like candles, shining a light in a world that is so dark.

As we shine our light and acknowledge our own mortality, it also behooves us to take a breath, take a step back, and treat our fellow eternal souls in mortal bodies with decency and respect. While we may be different in looks, skills, status, or reputation, one thing is the same across the board – we are all dying. All of us face that predicament.

“Whenever I start cursing at the traffic or the phone
I remind myself that we have all got cancer in our bones
Don’t yell at the dead, show a little respect
It’s terminal, it’s terminal.”

“Terminal” – Jon Foreman

Everyone has some baggage they are carrying, even if it’s not easily noticeable.  Knowing that everyone is dealing with something, whether it is grief, physical illness, emotional problems, financial instability, etc., we ought to show love towards all, just as our Savior did. Getting mad about someone cutting you off on the highway isn’t going to do anything good for you or them. On your deathbed, you won’t care about that sort of thing. So let’s be slow to anger, quick to love, and willing to serve our fellow mortal beings. We’re all terminal, but for the time being, we can shine like candles, helping illuminate a dark world with the hope and love.

 

I’m Graduating and I want to Live it Well

The past few years, I’ve been battling some intense darkness in my mind. Fear, anxiety, self-hatred, depression, and other feelings have come over me like crashing waves and sometimes it feels like I’m drowning. Then I look at the suffering and trials of people around me and around the world. It is overwhelming. There is so much pain and darkness in this world. As Jon Foreman says:

“…the dark wounds of our world are inescapable- the wound is you, it’s me, it’s humanity. The wound is Afghanistan, it’s Palestine, it’s the United States. The wound is our broken homes, our broken marriages, our broken hearts. The wound is Golgotha, the wound is the cross. But rather than running away, let’s embrace the truth about our broken humanity, and the truth will set us free! Let’s not pretend to be well- after all, it’s the sick that need a doctor. No, we are the wounded. Mortally wounded. Darkly wounded. But, the wound is where the light shines through. Do we really believe in a Living God who is our redeemer, strong and loving- capable of healing these wounds? If so, then let’s bring our darkness to him. All of it. Life is short I want to live it well.”

I have started to confront the darkness in my life. First comes acknowledging it, rather

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My decorated college graduation cap

than always running away from it. I have come to accept that I am a broken, wounded person. The wound is where the light does indeed shine through. God has been reminding me that He hasn’t left me and that I am His creation, a creation continually being created. While the dark thoughts have not left my mind, there is a renewed hope that shines bright and gives me courage to continue on. 

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

I am about to graduate college. This is supposed to be a joyful time and people keep reminding me that I have my future before me. The future, however, is filled with uncertainty that is overwhelming and somewhat terrifying. One thing that I do know, however, is that I do not want to waste my life. God has led me this far and He has plans for my future. What is unknown to me is known to Him. I am still wounded and still broken, but that is a part of being human. I have one life to live and one story to tell. I want to live it well.

“I wanna sing with all my heart a lifelong song
Even if some notes come out right and some come out wrong
Cause I can’t take none of that through the door
Yeah, I’m living for more than just a funeral
I wanna burn brighter than the dawn

Life is short; I wanna live it well
One life, one story to tell.”

(“Live it Well” by Switchfoot)

 

 

Train of Toast

Train of toast. Or so that’s what my friend calls it. It’s more commonly referred to as “Train of thought.” Ever noticed the crazy track that our minds travel sometimes? I never thought about it too much until my junior year of high school. It was second semester and I was enrolled in an English course. We had a student teacher (who was quite awesome and fun). Anyways, we were reading Catcher in the Rye. If you’ve ever read the book, you know that Holden’s thoughts easily went from one thing to another. The student teacher had us do a train of thought exercise. He would say one noun and we would all write what we thought of next. We would continue to write what came to mind next until he called time. For example:

Word given:

Penguin

Train of thought:

Penguin

Cold

Snow

Ice

Ice-cream

Dad (that’s another story)

Airplanes

Sky

Blue

Jeans

Yeah. You get the idea. Anyways, we would all go around and share our lists with the class. I noticed some frequent trends among my classmates including food, homework, and significant others.  I don’t know why but the other day I was chatting with a friend online and this exercise came to mind. (Not the friend that says train of toast) I told her about it and we did it together over the internet. Quite fun. I must admit that Doctor Who came up frequently in hers.

Have you ever noticed how our minds take reckless turns however? It can happen any day and everyday. Our minds wander to things that distract us. We may even find ourselves thinking of evil or creepy things. I think we’ve all had these thoughts. To be honest, I’m not always sure how I end up there. It’s not always easy to stop them either. These thoughts hold on tight. These thoughts also lead to similar thoughts and many times I feel like my mind in traveling in a circle.

Sometimes my mind simply wanders to uncomfortable things such as worrying about what could happen. I may try to think of something else but my mind ends up traveling in a circle. Worry is stressful. Worry is uncomfortable. Worry distracts us from the tasks at hand. Worry is going to happen at some point or other. But it shouldn’t take control of us. Nor should evil thoughts. We have an amazing and merciful God watching over us and every little thing in life. Think about it.

“So why do I worry?
Why do I freak out?
God knows what I need.

        ~ “Your Love is Strong” by Jon Foreman

We need to remember this whenever worry creeps up on us. That same God can help us fight the evil thoughts that our train of thought encounters as well. All too often however, we forget to think of Him and all that He has done. I admit that I am guilty of this quite frequently. Since God made all things though, shouldn’t we think of Him, His love, His mercy, His promises more often? I don’t mean the little passing thoughts about God that go as quickly as they came. If we think of Him more we may simply find ourselves happier, less stressed, more loved and less worried. I’m not saying that you have to focus on Him every second of your life. That’s not realistic in this life. Thinking of Him more often could do us all some good though. Your relationship with Him will grow. That relationship needs to be the basis of all you do. He already knows your thoughts. Even the creepy ones you don’t want to admit. He knows your worries. He knows every secret. He loves you despite your darkest moments. He wants your relationship with him to grow. You have to be apart of that growth however.  Just remember that He is one thought away. Help and comfort is a few whispered words away as well.