Adventures of a Manboy and his Father

The Adventures of a Manboy and his Father

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Well... that was harder than expected.

The last couple of weeks have been un poco loco.  So i'm going to split my update into two.

First of all, I climbed a volcano last weekend.

The summit  of Pichincha is at 15,400 feet, which means its taller than any peak in the continental US.  The climb took somewhere in between 8-9 hours, and it was crazy beautiful.  After we had been climbing for a while, our friend and guide Daniel asked if any of us would like to go through the pass of death.  I thought to myself, Oh that sounds like fun, besides it can't be that bad.  I was wrong.

This was the razor's edge that lead to the pass of death.... notice how the "path" disappears into the clouds.  Daniel just hopped up there and started climbing

Nobody from our group made a move to follow him, so I thought eh... let's do this.  The razor's edge turned out to be a thirty or forty minute climb up a ridge that was about 3-4 feet wide with hundred feet drop offs on both sides.  This is what I saw while climbing up the razor's edge...

Except of course for the times I looked to the right or left... then I saw this.  (I think this was around the time I almost had a little freak out moment.  Its a weird thing knowing you could so easily die.)

Whenever we finally got to the pass of death, we decided it would be a good idea to use a rope.  (See Mom, I'm trying to be safe!)

So we did!  Except for the time Daniel asked me to take off my harness so somebody else could wear it. (their leg strap had broken). That was really exciting!  (And just in case you're wondering at this point... a lot of these pictures did require a decent amount of effort. I don't actually recommend climbing this stuff with an DSLR.)

I'm not really sure why, possibly the fact that we had a rope, but the pass of death was considerably less intimidating than the razor's edge climb.  In fact, it was more fun than anything.  This is a view of the pass of death from the other side

Eventually, we just started climbing straight up to the top, passing through land that reminded me of Mars...

Coupled with some views that were astounding.  It was hard not to praise Jesus for the magnificence of His creation.  As one of my friends kept saying when she saw something beautiful, "I see what you're doing there God."

Then we made it to the top!  The following picture is our victorious group pic... and although the intent was confidence and accomplishment, I'm not sure what my stance actually communicates

Pensive Pic!

On the way down, we got to go down a scree (really really fine dirt/sand) portion of the mountain!  It was so fun.  You just started running and then you could just start sliding/skiing down the mountain.

After the scree we continued the long hike back to the base camp thing.  

By the time we finished everyone was so exhausted, but so incredibly thankful for God's provision and protection!  It was such a crazy beautiful day!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

I don't want to

After this semester, I want to go home. I’m tired of being gone.  I’m tired of feeling transient and rootless.  I want to go home, start my career, live with my family and figure out the next step as it comes.  I want to have a rhythm, and maybe start looking at grad schools.  I want to start my life.

But I feel like there's a chance God might have a different idea,  I’m not happy about it.

Family First
          First, it seem to start while thinking about my family, specifically my brothers, and the choices I've made to stay close to them.  I figure anyone reading this blog probably knows these things but I’ll restate them anyways:

What was one of the biggest motivations for choosing JBU? To be close to my brothers.

Why was I in Tulsa this summer?  So I could be close to my family and support them.

Why have I never really considered overseas missions? Because I can’t bear the idea of being away from my family for that long. 

In the midst of these reflections God asked me… “Is your family an idol?  Laughing, I dismissed this question, “Of course not, I just love them a lot. To which I felt Him reply, Do you love them more than me?  Because that’s the definition of an idol.  Drat.  *Sigh* I don’t know… 

I Don’t Feel That
          On top of that, the theme of evangelism in other countries has been showing up in most things I've read lately.  For example, this last week I read Through the Gates of Splender by Elizabeth Elliot.  The book recounts the story of Jim Elliot and friends and how they worked towards the evangelism of the Huaorani tribe in Ecuador.  I began reading the book out of duty as it was an assignment for a class.  As I started, I assumed that I was already overly familiar with the story and the whole thing would just be a review.  Of course, I was wrong.  The book inspired and challenged me.  One thing in particular that stood out to me was the men’s passion for people to hear good news of Jesus.  They yearned for the Huaorani people to know the gospel, they hungered for it, they risked their lives for it. 

          That yearning, that hunger, I am not sure I know what that feels like.  I’ve studied missions. I’ve been on mission trips. I’ve shared the gospel with people.  But, I am unfamiliar with the urgency that these men felt concerning people who hadn’t received an opportunity to know the truth.  I don’t feel it like they did.  Maybe its because I don’t consider the gospel to be that big of a treasure, or perhaps I don’t actually believe in hell.  Whatever the reason, I don’t feel the urgency that drove the lives of those men. I want to feel it.

Don’t Miss The Point
          Then tonight, I was reading Radical by David Platt.  In one chapter he asks what is the central message of Christianity.  The most common answer he receives from people is “God loves me.”  What though are the ramifications of such an answer?  Note the object in that sentence: me.  A obvious result of this thinking is that the central message of Christianity begins to revolve around us. 

          In contradiction to this reasoning, God makes it pretty clear in the Bible that He is actually in the middle of it all.  Consider Ezekiel 36:22-23
Therefore say to the Israelites, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes.

It is for the sake of His glory that He works among us.  Our salvation is a tool through which God will glorify Himself, and this doesn't connote that He loves us any less.  It is just that He must glorify Himself for He is worthy.  To make all of reality revolve on anything else other than Him would be unfitting.  God is God and He deserves to be in the center of every story, receiving the glory.   Speaking into this reality, Stott claims, “The message of biblical Christianity is not ‘God loves me, period.’ The message of biblical Christianity is ‘God loves me so that I might make him- his ways, his salvation, his glory, and his greatness- known among all the nations.’” 

It’s got to be about Him.  Life can’t be about my dreams, my career, my future family, or my ministry.  All of life must be about Him and His glory, and we must have lives that declare this reality to the farthest corners of the earth.  This is what we are called to do, and also the acting in it brings us the most joy possible.  We are fulfilled when we live for Him, because that is what He designed us to do.  Its like we are screwdrivers and our whole lives we've been trying to hammer in nails.  I'm sure we can manage to get some stuff done, but imagine the satisfaction in living they way we were designed to function.  We were not made for the American dream, but for the Kingdom of God and for the spreading of His great and exciting glory.

But I Don’t Want To
All of these thoughts have led me to ask the question: What if God doesn’t want me to go home and start my life?  What if instead He wants me to go out into the world and declare His goodness?  Missions.  Evangelism.  These are words that seem hard, that seem like they would take more faith and effort than I am currently able to muster.  And at the risk of seeming like a bad Christian… I don’t want to.  But what if I want you to? I feel like God asks. 

On one hand it makes sense.  I’m young.  I’m single.  I have no debt.  I have no responsibilities or commitments.  I’ve studied a little of culture.  I'm able.

But on the other hand: I’m tired.  I don’t care enough.  I’m weak in my faith, nowhere near where I’d want to be.  I’m not “called.”  Plus, if this counts for anything, I don’t want to.  

I want to be willing though.  And this is definitely something for which I’ll be praying (please pray as well!).  Maybe I just need some time to rest before I go back out, but this life isn't mine right?  It's His.  And a soldier during the time of war doesn't always get to take leave whenever he wants.  Instead, sometimes He must deny his desires and do what He is able for the sake of that for which he is fighting.  This isn't all drab either.  There is beauty, life, and joy awaiting those who are obedient.  Its all kind of exciting actually.  At the same time, I would want to act not out of perceived duty, but out of obedience. 

May I live for Jesus!  I pray He keeps messing with my heart.  And regardless of what the next step turns out to be, I want to find joy in the willingness to obey, and not just in the big things, but in the small things of today as well. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

I get to do this?

Where do I start?

Galapagos I suppose.

Last week my group went to the Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos are a group of 13 volcanic islands approximately 500 miles off the coast of Ecuador.  They are famous not only for their beauty, diverse and unique ecosystems, and giant tortoises, but they are also the place where Darwin researched and constructed a lot of his ideas on evolution (eventually published under the book The Origin of the Species.)

It was a pretty fast trip. Four days and three nights (2 on the island of Santa Cruz, and 1 on Isabella.)  The first day we traveled (two plane rides, two bus rides, and a ferry) and we arrived at our hotel let me tell you what... I was really surprised.  The place was soo nice!  For our lunch they brought out these fish steaks and you would have thought we were in a five-star restaurant or something.  I was almost uncomfortable with the quality of it all.  That afternoon we hiked across part of the island to see the Grietas which is this series of canyons that are partially filled with amazingly clear water.   At one point you can rock climb up one of the walls and cliff jump from the top (about 45 feet).  It was pretty scary actually, and I afterwards I felt like someone had spanked me really well, but it was so cool!   Here's a pretty sweet picture my friend snagged:

The next day I accidentally changed my clock the wrong direction and woke up at five in the morning, which turned out to be awesome!  I went down by the port and was able just to see a fantastic sunrise and enjoy some intentional time with Jesus.  As a a group that morning we went to a spectacular beach called Tortuga Bay.  There we were able to take a ton of pictures of Marine Iguanas, and just enjoy the sand that was as fine as flour.  It really is a beautiful place, kinda like the ones you see on movies or the travel channel, white sand... turquoise water... wildlife... beautiful people like me without their shirts on... you know.   In the afternoon we took a short boat ride to a tiny little Island and got to see some unique lava formations and more marine iguanas.  That night a couple of us went dancing at a local place and I got to laugh as two guys from Israel tried to pick up two of my friends.

The last day was my favorite.  In the morning we went and saw giant tortoises.  At one point, as I watched a two foot long tortoise much on some leaves, I realized something:  not only was this tortoise actually older than I was, but twenty years after I die, he'll probably still be living on an island munching on the same type of grass.  Kinda a humbling thought.

Then in the afternoon I got to go snorkeling for the first time!  I'm not sure I can describe how incredible it was.  At first I followed around this sting ray for a while.  Then an 8ft sea lion came and swam around us (which was a little scary actually), and I was able to swim with a school of surgeonfish.  The most amazing moment came when my friend called me over and we were able to swim with a sea turtle.  The thing was really big and had a kind of nobility to him.  Something about the graceful way that old creature moved through the water just spoke to me.  I just had to keep thanking and praising God while swimming with that guy.  It was so cool! After snorkeling we were all pretty beat and headed back to the hotel for a chill night and a beautiful sunset.  During the trip I just kept asking, "I get to do this?"  The Lord blesses me abundantly, unfairly, so generously.

Coming back from the Galapagos, it was a little hard to get back in the swing of things academically (sometimes I forget, or at least want to forget, that I'm a student still).  Then to make it worse this week I  started becoming sick, especially for the last 3 or so days.  Chills, hot flashes, headaches, loss of quality sleep, loss of appetite, coughing, eyes that hurt when I move them.  Its been a crazy ride! Kinda fun in some ways, and God has been faithful in providing everything that I need, and this morning I feel a decent bit better, I think I'll even try to teach today.

I'll close with a quote.  Yesterday, while still pretty sick I read nearly all of the book Through the Gates of Splendor, written by Elizabeth Elliot, which chronicles what God did through the lives of Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming, and Roger Youderian in their attempt to reach the Aucas in Ecuador.   Many things were impressed upon me while reading this book, such as how talented each of the men were, how well they planned for each step of the process, and how driven they were for evangelism (with such a passion to which I am unfamiliar).  One thing that blew my mind though was many of Jim Elliot's famous quotes were actually not penned on the mission field, but instead while he was in college, wow.  One of these quotes in particular hit me last night:

When the time comes to die, make sure that all you have to do is die.