A Close Call
This was almost the post where I explained how I was going to stop blogging for awhile. To some extent, it still is. I have fallen off the radar for awhile, and those of you that follow me deserve an explanation. I’m going to go a bit outside my normal style of blogging on this one and give you a taste of me, not just my beliefs, but I hope my story will breathe incredible life on you in the process…
This year has been possibly the most challenging year of my life. I can’t say for sure, because when you’re caught up in the moment, sometimes you can’t quite feel just how hard it truly is. It takes time for the numbness to wear off. My family is fracturing, I can’t keep up with school, I have too many commitments, I have no idea where I’ll be living in a month (ow where I’ll be working for that matter), on any given day my account balance has been under 10 dollars, I’ve been wrestling with huge theological questions, I’m slowly realizing that I don’t know how to relax (ever), and I find myself in leadership positions everywhere. I find myself crying at random times, especially in the car, and I have no idea what I’m crying about. I’m avoiding getting to know new people because it seems like too much stress. Whenever I do bring myself to sit down, or slow down, it’s like my mind keeps racing just the same. I’m frustrated with my relationship with God, and I’m discouraged in some of my closest relationships with people. I’m ignoring phone calls because the thought of hearing one more piece of bad news is too hard. I’m sleeping in and waking up nearly just as tired. And with all this, in the back of mind I’m thinking “and I’m late on my blog update.” It’s enough to make a man want to go live in a cave or something…then I remember that hot showers are hard to come by in caves. So are brownies.
Another thing I’ve been realizing is how little of what I do is for me. Do I do things because I have to, or because I want to? Do I even know what I want at all? So much of my life has been motivated by a desire to change my environment. I have always wanted to be the best Christian I could be because it would mean that my family, my school, and my nation would change as a result. This all sounds incredibly noble, but it’s actually hollow. If you are living to change the world, maybe you know what I mean. I’ve been a part of incredible things throughout my life– miracles, conversions, emotional healing, social justice, and all sorts of other things– but there’s always been this groan in me, saying “there’s got to be more.” People have told me that groan is all sorts of things, but nothing has convinced me. Nothing has been enough to stop me from seeking to obtain that more. I’d rather die than live with a gospel that will never fully satisfy. A gospel that leaves you empty is not good news at all. The thing is, we were never created for works.
We were not born to be world changers.
We were born to be lovers.
All my life, I’ve been living for a lesser identity. I’ve been living to change the world, and God is so kind that he is letting me have that, but I was created to love Him. I was made to enjoy a Person, not to accomplish a purpose. I was not made for the purpose driven life. I was made for the intimacy driven life, and frankly, I’m not even the one driving. Jesus is. I think I’m starting to understand why the greatest work of the law is to love… because life motivated by anything less is empty. If I write to change the world, I may see some change, and I’ll remain empty…but if I write to love…now that’s something.
This may sound ridiculous, but I think sometimes we even love for reasons other than love. I know I do. I love to bring the kingdom of heaven. I love to change the world. I love to set people free, or to get them saved. But love, by definition, has no agenda. It doesn’t insist on it’s own rights or it’s own way. Love doesn’t love to change the world; it loves to love. Because love IS an end in itself. If we preach love because it needs to be preached, or because we are commanded to do so, we are selling love short. I’ve done that a lot. Not just in other’s lives, but in my own life.
I’ve received the love of God to fix myself. I’ve given God’s unconditional love an agenda, as if God was loving me to accomplish something other than just to be with me. Sure, I’ll be transformed if I’m with Him, but that’s not what He’s after first. More than anything, He wants ME. I’ve been so busy working for Him, I never took the time to realize that I was a son. Sons don’t work or love or change for the Father, they do everything with Him. For years I’ve only experienced His love for some other end, and that’s why I’ve always felt that His love wasn’t enough. That’s why the only new commandment Jesus gives starts with “As I have loved you…” This isn’t even about us doing anything, or becoming anything. It’s about being with Him. It’s about receiving Him. Everything flows from there. When you live like this, the world changes so much more, and you don’t even have to try.
Honestly, I don’t even know if I’m really conveying what’s in my heart. I’m trying, but words don’t seem to be enough for me right now. When you realize that your whole life you have been living for less than you were created for, and that most of the world is doing the exact same thing, how do you put that in words? How do you convey that grace really is this good? That all expectations were nailed to a cross 2,000 years ago, and now the only striving we are allowed is to strive to enter the rest that is already ours. I’m beginning to realize that it really is finished, and I’ve been living like the cross wasn’t enough. Jesus erased everything that kept me under a performance or “purpose driven” life, for no other reason than union. He’s desperate for ME, and all my life I’ve been giving Him works. I’ve been seeking to be used by God, instead of resting IN HIM. Geeze, I mean we really don’t get the fruit thing do we? How hard does a tree work to bring fruit? We are trees, yet we’re striving like we’re slaves! What we’re living looks nothing like true Christianity.
True Christianity is I get to be me. I get to discover who me is, and I get to fully be that. I get to do what makes me fully satisfied, and live out every dream that God has created me for. I get to enjoy every single good thing. Every gift, every taste, every beauty. God crucified that old man that needed to die. He’s already dead. Now, I’m free to be the new man that He always intended me to be. I’m free to live out what I’m made for.
And I was made for love.
I’m not exactly sure what this all means for my blog. For starters, I’m discovering that I like to blog, which means I’m going to keep doing it. Yet, I’m tired of living according to expectations, or to try to change the world. So, I’m not going to write because I have to. I’m not going to write because the world needs me, or even because the world needs Jesus. I’m going to write because I’m in love. I’m going to write because I can’t help but share this Man who gave His life for me and turned my world upside down. I’ll write because it’s worth it to share both the pains and pleasures of this journey, because I love to. It may not be every two weeks, as I had once hoped and attempted, (although I’d like to write nearly that frequently if I can) but it will be fruit. If I write any other way than the way I want, I’ll be doing it as a work, and it will not be satisfying. When I write out of the overflow of my life, goodness explodes out of me, but any other way is like squeezing a raisin for grape juice. I want to give you something that is alive, not something I scraped out of the over-analyzing corners of my over-thinking mind. I do want to change the world, but first I have to learn to be me. Only once I’m living from my identity will I even have a “self” to give. I’m getting there, but bare with me in the process, and know that when I say something, I’m giving you my soul, not just my words. Thank you for reading, and I look forward to continuing the conversation.
6 thoughts on “This Started as My Last Blog Post”
Wow Karsten – very powerful. I had no idea you were feeling this way, either. Glad you were able to share this with us all – God truly did create us for relationship. I LOVED your point about the fruit tree – trees don’t have to work at creating fruit, they just do because they’re fruit trees!
Thanks Evan. Yea it’s been hard lately, but I’m getting through it.
I really appreciated this– your humility, your vulnerability, everything. I think it’s your most honest post yet. And I totally get this —> ” When I write out of the overflow of my life, goodness explodes out of me, but any other way is like squeezing a raisin for grape juice. I want to give you something that is alive, not something I scraped out of the over-analyzing corners of my over-thinking mind.” Thanks for sharing, Karsten. I will be praying for you. 🙂
I know this may sound corny or political, like I’m trying to be one of those “good bloggers,” but thank you so much. Your comment really means a lot to me. The good thing about writing from vulnerability is that when people get it, and they share that with you, you can really feel it. Your heart is lifted up by their encouragement. That is exactly how I feel right now. And giving from an empty tank, feeling like that sucks huh? It’s so much harder that way! We were meant for so much more. Learning to live there is the hard part. Thanks again.
People need to hear this. Thanks for writing.
Thank you Brad. That’s good to hear.