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Monday, August 6, 2012

Press Toward the Light

"You're being tempted by the same ol'
You say it's under control.
Just remind me how you see so clearly
Face down in a hole. 

Press toward the light 
And the light will ground you. 
Go with the flow
And the flow will drown you.
Hey now, there's always an out. 

But if you get up, get up, get up
You can break away. 
If you get out, get out, get out
Nothing can overtake. 
Don't wait. Escape." 
(-Newsboys)


It can seem the hardest thing in the world, to press against the flow, to go against the hype, to upset the norm. Nobody wants to be weird. And, in our culture, many times different is weird. 

The dark tide of popularity and normality pulls hard against your weak grip on the shore. All around you, people are letting go and being swept away by the rushing water. And they say it's not bad. Sometimes they really seem to be enjoying it; the thrilling surge, the tepid spray. They don't really know where the tide will take them, but that's alright because it feels wonderful for now. Your fingers ache from their hold on the slippery rocks. They are bleeding, sliced by the sharp ridge. You still see the gleam from the lighthouse, but you are beginning to wonder if it really is only your imagination like so many around you are saying. The waves toss your body roughly against the rocks, playing with you, bruising you, tempting you to let go and come with them. It hurts and lots of people laugh at you as they float by on their backs. They are oblivious to the fact that at the end of their journey lies a foaming, watery grave; that they will be carried up and over; that they will plunge to the bottom where the writhing water and sharp rocks and cold death await them. 

Sometimes, all it takes is one person. One person tightening their grasp on the rocks, pulling themself a bit closer to shore, and shouting out to the others to come along, telling everyone to press toward the light. People are a bit like sheep. If they see someone else leading, they are much more likely to go the right way. We can all sit around and watch and wait for that other person, while everyone else is sitting around and watching and waiting too. Or you can be that person. The one that stands out from the crowd and reminds everyone else about the difference between darkness and light, because, surprisingly, it's quite easy to forget. 

Press toward the light and the light will ground you. Go with the flow and the flow will drown you. 

Being different is hard. But hard things make us strong. And many times being different from the world is right. "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:2)

Everyone wants to be liked. Rejection and hostility are hard for us to bear. But, if we think about what our God did for us, we should realize that the persecution we receive, when we stand up for what's right, is not much in the scheme of things. And it will all be worth it. 

Because, once, a long time ago, a perfect Man lived here. He spent His whole life, starting from very soon after his birth, being hunted by people who wanted to kill Him. He taught about love and forgiveness and faith. Then, when He was in His thirties, He was betrayed by a close friend. Most of His other friends, of which there weren't many, ran away or denied that they knew him. He was stripped, beaten, bruised. His beard was plucked out. A crown of long thorns was crushed down on His head. They spit on His body, on His face. Then they made Him carry a cross to a hill where they pounded nails through His wrists and feet. And then they raised the cross up between two thieves and watched Him die in agony, while they gambled for His clothes. And He asked God to forgive them, because they did not know what they were doing. As He was held there, dying, God placed all the sin of all the people who had ever lived, and who ever would live on this perfect Man, His Son's, shoulders; every prideful word, every murder, every lie, every sinful thought. Then, because God could not look at all that sin, He turned His back. And that was more agony then all the rest combined. The perfect Man-God called out in torment to His father, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" 
And soon after, He died, with the words, "It is finished," on His lips. 

"If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." (John 15:18-19)

But the end of His story is not a dark one. And ours doesn't have to be, either. Three days later, a stone was rolled away, a tomb stood empty. Love overcame the grave. Life conquered death.

Light makes everything more beautiful.




Saturday, August 4, 2012

Why Do We Say It?

Turncoat.
Why is a traitor called a "turncoat"?

In allusion to a literal turning of the coat inside out that was the custom in the days when feudal lords maintained their own armies. Each lord had a special livery for his servants and swordsmen and when a man left one lord for the service of another, he turned his livery coat inside out so that he might not be mistaken for an enemy upon approaching the castle of his new master.  (Why Do We Say It? pg 246)