I am going to set my timer and write for 30 minutes. When it goes off, I will finish the sentence I am on and post this. Ready, set, go!
I wrote that a few days ago, and it took a friend (thanks Kay!) goading me on to sit down and do it. It is 12:42 a.m. I am teaching Sunday School tomorrow in church, and I am coming down off of an all evening buzz enjoyed with my coworkers, my first night out in months.
I was talking with Kay, and told him, "This semester I don't have much left to give."
"That's your first sentence," was his immediate reply.
"But..." I said. I actually said more than that. The ellipses represent a load of excuses for not writing. They may even be legitimate, but what it comes down to is that I just haven't done it. And when I don't do it for long enough, the only reason for not writing is that I haven't done it for a long time. So the timer is running, and whatever you get from this tired, sodden mind is what you get.
Not that there has been nothing going on up there. There is lots. But it has all been directed at one fire or another: plan the next lesson! get ready for the next English Hour! get the website ready for Monday! feed the kids dinner and get them bathed so they don't wake up in the morning hungry and stinky!
I do love Maxine and Quinten, more than words can say. But if I had properly understood what sort of time commitment would be involved in bringing them into the world, it is possible that I never would have done more than kiss their mother.
I have been trying to keep myself flowing outward. Teaching is such an outward focused job, as is parenting. I am not satisfied with my teaching unless I do it better than I did last semester. I am not satisfied with my fatherly duties unless I am better than I was before. These are so difficult to measure that I often find that I am not satisfied with myself.
In our life group this past week, we discussed the idea that humans are spiritually dead without Jesus. "Those who have the Son have life. Those who do not have the Son of God do not have life." 1 John 5: 12. Like zombies, only spiritually instead of physically. Spiritual food is prayer and scripture, that which keeps us alive. If we deny ourselves these basic necessities, we are starving our spirit!
I know that many of my friends choose to feed their spirits in other ways. It is a real hunger, whether you realize it or not. You may feed the hunger with the latest episode of your favorite t.v. show. You may feed the hunger with the company of others, with the good feelings that come with drinking. You might feed that spiritual hunger with family, and the sense that you are taking care of the most important people in the world. You may feed yourself with your own thoughts and imaginings. And these might make us feel better for a while.
Who am I kidding? Of course they make us feel better for a while! If God were the only, obvious correct answer, we would all be Christians. Anyone who suggested that something else could take the place of God would be considered an idiot, like a child suggesting that we don't need to go to the store to get food, we can just get it from the refrigerator.
But it's not obvious. There are times when I am sure of the truth, and times when I seek comfort in the bottle, in my family, in my wife, in myself. I look at the Christians who are so absolutely sure that they have the complete, perfect answer, and I wish I had that. And at the same time I am scared of them, because they seem to be just a degree or two off of the crazies who are absolutely sure that they have the complete, perfect answer in blowing themselves up or killing others in the name of whatever they believe in.
I want that faith, but I don't want it. I want to be sure, but I don't want it. I want to keep my doubt, because doubting is what intelligent people do. I want to have the faith that moves mountains because I want to be that kind of acceptable to God. I want to believe that I understand God well enough to live my life the way God wants me to live. It's so hard to believe that there is just one such way when I see how many different ways that the people who call themselves the children of God have scattered.
This important question, this all important defining of my life, I delay by giving myself and my time away. By giving myself to my family. By giving myself to my job. By giving myself to my friends. By giving myself to my entertainment.
This semester I don't have much left to give. Why is giving myself to God so hard?
Forty-eight seconds to go. Thanks, Kay, for reminding me that writing is part of who I am. Thanks to Elaine and Amanda, two of the writers I admire and actually know on a first name basis. Apologies for any typos, and a sincere hope that typos are the worst of the problems with this essay, because my alarm has just gone off, and the "Publish" button is calling!