Mission: Meaningful or Madness?

Last week my son and I were visiting a frozen yogurt shop. He ran next door to grab a water from another store, so I camped outside the yogurt store and sat at one of the tables. At the table next to me were a pair of guys and since we were so close I couldn’t help but hear their conversation.

One of the guys was telling his friend about a recent mission trip he had been on to another country. I wasn’t sure what country he was talking about, but from his description of the poor conditions, I presume it was a third world country. Excitedly he told about how God moved through his mission team and used them mightily while he was there, and even though he didn’t speak the language he was able to share his faith with others through interpreters.

He told of one instance when the Holy Spirit was leading him and others to walk from village to village and share their faith with anyone they came across along the way. As they walked and encountered someone, they would ask people if they wanted to meet Jesus. Immediately the person would say “Yes” and pray to receive Jesus on the spot. This happened over and over again to almost everyone he encountered and hundreds that day came to know the Lord.

It was all I could do not to jump in on the conversation and ask some questions that I really wanted the answers to, but my son came out and was ready to go.

I don’t doubt that this gentleman had this experience in some far away land, and I don’t doubt that he had good intentions and was sincerely concerned for these people and their spiritual lives, but my question is – “Does it really mean anything?”

Happy and Heading Nowhere

I’ve been silent for a few weeks now. It’s not because of writer’s block, lack of “churchy” subjects or motivation to write. Actually, I’ve been writing a lot… just not here.

The main reason I haven’t been writing on SCP is because I’m happy. I’m really not sure why that makes me not want to write about stupid church people (since I enjoy it so much), but I just don’t have it in me at the moment. Maybe four years of cynicism and nay-saying is enough for now. I’d rather just focus on the flip-side.

Happiness isn’t a place that I’ve visited often in the past few years, but it’s been my desire for some time. Beyond being happy, I would say that I feel very balanced and peaceful for the first time in a really, really long time. Relationships, family and friends are all hitting full-stride and that can be a very good place to just want to sit for awhile.

Now, I know a lot of you have said that the reason I am so anti-pretty-much-everything related to the church or God is because I am coming from a place of pain and disappointment in my personal life. Return satisfaction and contentment into your personal life and you might be more benevolent towards God, you’ve intimated. Well I’d like to confirm that this isn’t the case. I still think church people are stupid, the church is messed up, that God is either an engima or non-existent and that I don’t want to have one little thing to do with any of it.

Yet I am happy.

The happiness and contentment that I am feeling now is almost the exact opposite of the sadness and confusion I felt a little over four years ago. It’s quite surreal actually. I still have the same fears, mysteries and unexplained reasons surrounding my life, my experiences and my relationships but I don’t feel the need to plug God into those things just so I can make sense of them. I am perfectly content to not have any answers. I am thrilled to seek to live in the moment.

And that’s the key I think… to live life in the moment. Why have I always felt I had to be heading somewhere when where I was was quite enough for now? Am I going to live my life and never be satisfied with my present place in this world?

No matter my state, I should be satisfied. As Pema Chodron says so well, this present moment is our perfect teacher. Right now, this moment offers us everything we need. When I was sad and grieving and lonely, I learned to embrace those as welcome teachers in my life. Trying to rush through that process would have caused me to short-change myself from the lessons life was trying to teach me.

I heard it said once that happiness is not a product of our circumstances, but a product of surrender. In surrendering to the present moment and condition of my life, I am happy and heading nowhere.