Thursday, October 11, 2007

Not an Ideal, But a Divine Reality

I just finished listening to a sermon on the Internet presented by one of my trusted professors from George Fox University. I haven't heard Paul Anderson's voice teach me in over four and a half years, and yet listening to twenty minutes of his speech opened floodgates of memories that overwhelmed me with the beautiful idealism of college study.

Today was a good day to listen to that familiar voice as it was a day that I was overwhelmed with reality - the reality of waking early, of spending ten hours of the day in the intensity of a high school classroom and of coming home to a family life that is suffering the delays and constraints of construction. Today was a really real day.

And yet that voice transported me to a different place, a place where five years ago, I was preparing for today.

Five years ago, I sat with Paul and a group of Quaker college students on the living room floor of a small beach house near Lincoln City, Oregon. We had all piled our Bibles, clothes and study notes into our backpacks for a full weekend of reflection on what living life as a sacrament truly means.

Paul taught me some meaningful lessons, including the notion that the first and primary Christian sacrament is that of a living a life that embodies the fullness of Jesus' life. The words we say and the actions that we take, Paul shared with us, are the truest form of a physical manifestation of a spiritual reality.

I thought a lot about life and the future in that small house on the Pacific shore line. I knew that I was learning lessons that would impact the future of my life - my life that I wanted to live for a purpose, for a reason, for the glory of God, for the furthering of His Kingdom.

In other words, I dreamed about today. I dreamed about this day, where it seems like my biggest accomplishment may have been teaching juniors how to convert between different units of pressure.

When I sat down to listen to Paul speak this evening, though, I wasn't so sure that teaching pressure conversions was what I was dreaming of five years ago on the Oregon coast.

But, somehow, hearing that familiar voice again reminded me that, yes, this is what I really was preparing for. I was preparing for this day when I would not be surrounded by people of faith, where I was going to put in a long day at work and wonder if it was worth it, where I would be found lacking in faith, lacking in fortitude and found strengthened only by dependency on the fullness of Christ.

Five years ago, life today was an ideal reality. Life was somehow going to include me making a difference.

I do not live today in an ideal reality. But, that is okay, because I think that I have found something even better, something that, without knowing it, was what I was really preparing for in all of the idealism of college dreams.

I find myself today, not in an ideal reality, but as Dietrich Bonhoeffer eloquently says, in a divine reality - a place where all of my idealism is surrendered to the reality that is God's will, to the place of challenge where sufficiency is found only in the merit of God's strength.

"Christian brotherhood is not an ideal which we must realize; it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate."