Thorns and Stones.

I was away for the weekend and couldn’t post. But here I am again.

So, I was at church camp, something just about every Christian kid has heard of or been to; and a lot of us love it; but some of us have skepticism about the results.

Maybe you can relate, people have an amazing, emotional experience, they say their life will never be the same, and in a month or so they start acting like they always have. and you think “Well that was a lot of nothing.”

This is not just a Christian thing, everyone from pop stars to homeless people knows these kinds of experiences. Those of us who just know people who’ve had them can get pretty skeptical. So why? Is it really true that people just don’t change? And religion, or at least epiphany, is just emotional hype.

I’ll tell you that everyone from public school teachers to youth group counselors are puzzled about this problem. Why? they ask, can’t kids stick with change? Then they sigh and shrug it off and say, oh well. Back to the drawing board. Hey, I admire they’re perseverance, I just wish they didn’t relinquish they’re expectations.

The Bible sums up this problem perfectly in a parable Jesus told, famously called the Sower. The Sower is sowing seeds and they keep falling in the wrong places, some on the road, some among thorns, others among stones, and some on good soil. The ones on the road get eaten by birds. But the ones among the thorns and the stones sprout and grow for a time. But then the thorns grow up and choke the wheat, and the wheat on the stones withers because of the sun, since it has no deep roots.  Jesus then explains that those seeds represent people who hear the word and rejoice but then the cares and troubles of the world (the weeds) choke them, and they fall away. Others rejoice and grow for a time, but they have no root in themselves, and when trouble comes because of the word, they fall away.

I want to point out that the two enemies here are distraction and difficulty.

This camp I was at, the preachers warned us, don’t get distracted when you go home, and not live out what you were taught. Do you know what I started thinking about before I even left?  The things I wanted to do when I got home, and how I wanted to eat a decent meal. (Camp food is okay, but I’ve never eaten much of it. I have low appetite in high altitude.) And do you know what met me when I woke up this morning? The buzz of the TV in another room, and the things I wanted to  get done today.

Distraction.

There maybe not a single thing that more quickly kills passion. And not just spiritual fire, I mean any kind of passion. Except, you’ll notice, the unhealthy kinds. Like addictions to substances, electronics, or gaming, or whatever. Because those things are effortless.

You’ve heard the saying anything worth doing is worth doing right, but there’s another saying, it goes something like “nothing worth having comes easy.”

And it’s true. Experience and Success at worth having, but they aren’t easy. Even if they are, in rare cases, an overnight sensation, it doesn’t last without hard work. And what’s worse is the people who succeed quickly often don’t have the character or the know how to keep on succeeding, and when trouble comes, they fall under.

Think of Luke Skywalker in “The Empire Strikes Back.” He’s all set to take on the enemy, but he’s warned by Yoda about his anger. He also fails because he doesn’t believe enough in what is possible. In the end he recklessly tries to rescue his friends, and receives a major setback, it literally costs him a limb (well, a hand.) Plus, he doesn’t help his friends, they have to endanger themselves to go back and rescue him. In the end, he has a burden he was not ready for, the knowledge of who his father is.

In the end Luke’s mistakes do end up helping him, after he learns from them. But he demonstrated a lack of maturity in making them in the first place. Like the seeds on the stony soil, he hadn’t enough root.

It’s good for us that you can change the kind of soil you are. Weeds can be pulled out, rocks can be removed. If someone else puts the time and effort into doing so.

And the thing is, usually we do need help. It’s rare that we change without receiving a wake up call from someone or something. Usually it has to be their intention to stir us up. Some of us can just go to a camp, or a conference, and that’s enough. Others need a person to walk with them and encourage them.

But sadly, a lot of young people don’t put out the effort to find such a person, and even if they do (as I have) it can be hard to find anyone who really believes you can handle being pushed. And if they don’t, they won’t do you much good.

My last resource, as I have explained in recent posts, is also my first: I go to God. He’s the sower and He knows how to tend the soil to make it better. I used to be poor soil, but I finally caught the fire, and I haven’t lost it yet. But I’m aware that it is not my own ability but God’s careful leading that is responsible for that.

Maybe you have a parent like that, or another mentor, like a teacher or more distant relative. Maybe you don’t, but I encourage you anyway to do your part. Distraction and difficulty are hard obstacles to overcome, but it is possible if you don’t quit.

That’s all for now, over and out–Natasha.

20160330_121452

Weeds, a bird, and clutter.

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