Friday, August 18, 2006

Jesus Invade (Thanks, Olu)

In a couple of hours, we'll sign the lease on our house! My prayer for the house has been, is, and will be that it is a home dedicated to God. Like Hannah's surrender of Samuel, he gave the house to us as the answer to our prayers and we give it back to him.

My prayer is captured perfectly by Watermark's "Invade":

Come in, invade all you see of us
Any man who walks your road is welcomed here
And you’re the only one

Jesus, come and walk the halls of this house
Tread this place and turn it inside out with your mercy

Jesus, teach us the prayers that open these doors
Until your light floods in and illuminates these floors

And let your truth be on our steps and in these rooms
Jesus invade

Reach in with the hand that heals all our suffering
Conquer all that is not of you, bring your Spirit through
As we fill these walls with your praise


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Why I Love DC and Need a Camera and a Girlfriend

This evening I was reading in the Starbucks in Chinatown. I made the mistake of looking out the window and lost 10 minutes of my study time.

A man, who was ostensibly homeless, fashioned a make-shift gym on the corner of 7th and H Streets, right in front of Fuddruckers. He could have just as easily been just another functionally-issued, workaday District resident, like the rest of us. In any event, he removed his shirt and hat and placed them with his bag in what I assume was the locker room section, then he spread out a bath towel on the sidewalk. He stood opposite the towel, wearing sunglasses, what looked like a swim cap, and shorts that he hiked up to reveal the legs of his boxers.

He paused for a moment, to steady his breathing probably, then launched into a full-body warm up sequence. This was followed by calisthenics. Next, he laid down on the towel to do double-time crunches. Then, he was back on his feet for standing dumbbell and dumbbell hammer curls with a 20lb free weight that he pulled from his bag.

After hiking up his shorts, which had apparently fallen and no longer exposed his underwear, he performed a vigorous, hip-hop dance routine. This went on for a minute or so, until he reached into his pocket to pull out a stopwatch. He laid it, then himself, on the towel and started doing pushups. Back to standing. Rehike shorts. Another minute of hip-hop dance aerobics. More pushups. And repeat. The session ended with a few more reps with the free weight.

After what was probably 20 to 25 minutes (of which I sadly sat, rapt, for 10) he took off his sunglasses, put on his hat, and pulled on a rope chain with a large wall clock pendant, a la Flava Flav. He gathered his towel, the weight and the rest of his belongings from the locker room, and strolled off.

His entire routine was interrupted by only one passerby on the busy corner - during the after work/happy hour/dinner rush, mind you - who probably asked for directions, cigarettes or spare change. After he left, his street corner work-out room was again absorbed into the fabric of the city. Pedestrians trod the space completely heedless of all that had just come to pass.

I'm not jaded, per se, but there's not much I haven't seen in this city and there's not much that would surprise me. Suffice it to say, I didn't see this one coming. My first thoughts were "this would make a great picture," and "I want to call my girlfriend and tell her there's a guy exercising on the street corner." Alas, I have neither a camera nor a girlfriend, so blogging will have to do.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

More Than Able

I've been house hunting lately. A couple of friends and I are looking to rent a place on Capitol Hill. Finding the perfect place was one battle, then securing that place another. It all seemed a sisyphean task, one that called into question my trust in God.

I posted yesterday about trust and my need to remember what God had done in the past whenever I found myself doubting him. I mentioned that trust had been a major theme in my dialogue with God, in large part because of the moving situation.

Yesterday I heard a song that spoke directly to my situation. "More Than Able" by Fred Hammond pretty much summed everything up. The second verse reads thusly:

When asked to give
A true assessment for the task before you
Stop and relive
The many ways His mighty arm has brought you through
Remember every lion's den
And don't forget your last Red Sea
Know with God there's endless possibility
So let us see ourselves as those can
Even if we can't see how
Let us see and dream, possess and build
Even if giants live there now

And if He says the land is ours then we
Should move ahead with no delay

We are more than able
Yes we are

I knew God had said the house that I wanted was ours, but there seemed to be giants standing between grasshopper-sized me and my Promised Land. The Red Sea and lion's den victories of the past faded from memory. But God wouldn't let me give up.

Per usual, God was right. We found out today that we got the house. Less than three weeks from now, I'll be living in Canaan. What a mighty God we serve. We are more than able because he is more than anything!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Adeste Fideles

It’s been all about trust for me, lately. Every verse, every piece of advice has boiled down to "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to thine own understanding."

Trust is a tall order for me. My prayers are constantly some variant of "Lord, I trust you, but help my distrust."

I know what he’s done for me, but the situations in my life start looking bigger and bigger as I look at them through the magnifying glass of my reason and my ability. And, so often that’s the only perspective I can muster.

I know he hasn’t changed and I know he’s still just as infinitely able as he’s always been. My question is never can he do it this time; it’s will he do it this time. I end up like the disciples who, after watching Jesus feed five thousand with two fish and five loaves of bread just a short while before, were beside themselves wondering how they could ever feed four thousand with only a few fish and seven loaves of bread.

Trust. I am learning to trust. It’s a slow process, but I’m on the road. I believe that, in the past, when he fed me, when he clothed me, when he healed me, when he delivered me, when he saved me, when he died on the cross for me, he was just putting into action the love that was in his heart for me.

My new challenge is believing that his love for me doesn’t change. It is understanding that I didn’t earn any of those things with my actions or some inherent worth. So, when I doubt he’ll come through for me because I’m not feeling that I or my actions are particularly worthy of his love, I can remember that none of that matters. All that matters is that he loves me and that will never change.

Joyce Meyer said, "An important part of Jesus’ nature is His emotional maturity, which includes unchanging stability."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

"You ain't got no alibi..."

I’ve got to get some ugly friends.

For as long as I can remember, the majority of my friends have been beautiful women. So, for years I’ve been surrounded by women who draw more attention than the Macy’s Day Parade, women I probably wouldn’t have a chance at dating. On the plus side, I end up looking like a reasonable catch to women and a pimp (or as my friend Rob says, "pelmp") to other men.

These women are not just beautiful, they're also amazing people and friends. Still, it’s not nearly the male fantasy that it sounds like. Having these women as friends eliminates them from my dating pool, which is already more like a puddle. Dating a friend sounds good in theory, but in practice, not so much. Getting out of the "friend zone" is hard work. I tried it a long time ago and it’s not worth it.

Also affecting my dating decision is the disclosure factor among friends. You know all that stuff that women don’t tell their boyfriends because they’re afraid it will make them less attractive, well I know all that stuff. And you know what? It might not make a huge difference if I were already in a relationship, but it does make me think twice about starting one.

Then, there’s the female detail-orientation. As the resident expert in male behavior, a lot of information is bounced off me. Let me assure you, men’s foulest locker room talk is like the Sermon on the Mount compared to the intimate details some women share about their personal lives. My ears have been defiled.

This all came up because of the most recent drawback I discovered: crazy stalkers. A good friend of mine has caught the attention of a certifiable lunatic, who I’m pretty sure is following her around. He’s watched us together several times, talking and having a good time because that’s what we do. And because he’s crazy, he assumes that I’m her boyfriend and the only roadblock to their eternal bliss and has said as much.

I have no qualms about laying down my life for one of my friends, I’d do it in a heartbeat for any of them. But, I’ve always pictured myself donating a vital organ, running into a burning building, or drowning while swimming them to safety. Being killed by a crazy guy with a crush or going to prison for killing him in self-defense wasn't really part of the vision. I'll do it, mind you, but it's not ideal.

Of course, this wouldn’t be an issue if I just had ugly friends.