Settling- The Killer of Intimacy

I miss Mongolia. I really do. There are the people, friends and co-workers that we miss. There is the true sense of adventure and being completely and literally in the middle of nowhere. The darkness and seeing so many stars. Being off the beaten path that can happen within a few miles of leaving the capital. The culture, deep and rich, that we miss. Lots of things, which brings me sadness and also joy.

Chinggis Khaan (yes, correctly pronounced “chen-gis” not the Ghengis we all learned in school) was a brutal warrior. He was the one that through his brutality, was the first one to unify all the tribes of Mongolia. But, as much as he was brutal, he was also just as much a genius. Traditionally, the Mongolian people are nomadic. There homes known as Gers (like “Bears” but a “G” instead of a “B”), otherwise known as yurts, are meant to be taken down and set up, relatively quickly. Part of Chinggis’ genius came into play when they would attack other tribes or nations. Instead of simply attacking, defeating and leaving, the entire Mongolian nation would attack, and then set up camp and live for a short bit before moving and attacking another place. They were used to living off the land and being nomadic, so if he attacked a nation that had settled, a nation that was used to their crops, growing seasons, etc., they didn’t know what to do when Chinggis would attack.

His philosophy was that if the Mongol empire ever settled, that would be the end of their nation. Meaning, if they ever settled in, built cities to be defended, became more dependent on single water sources, crops that needed to be tended to instead of the virtually all meat diet they were accustomed to with their nomadic herds, they would then suddenly and constantly be on the defensive, not the offensive. And this would be the downfall. Though this is true, their weakness of being spread too thin is what ultimately led to their defeat.

The last few posts have been about intimacy, living out our own desires apart from what God’s desires are for us, and in this we ended up building temples and church buildings that God never intended. In the history of Chinggis Khaan, we see some truth of what God was intending for us-that we would never settle. That we would never settle on intimacy with Him being shaped and confined to a building. That we would never settle on worshiping in a simple man made place, to a set of rote actions or to man’s language. And yet, as I look at the church as a whole, specifically the American Church, it has become very much that. Settling. So much so that we have taken on more a far more defensive mentality than God had intended. We have become comfortable in our isolation from the rest of the world. We have become quite happy in our superiority complex that we tend to view the rest of the world through. We’ve grown too accustomed to the world as it is, instead of the imaginative Eden we were created in.

We have settled. This is not the intimacy God desires to have with us. This is not the intimacy He created us for. This is not intimacy. This is settling for second…or third best. Let’s move beyond the walls of our churches and engage the world. Let’s tear down the confines of what we think God is like. Let’s rid ourselves of the defensive mentality and become willing to go where and how God leads us. Let’s get back to our wandering ways like in Egypt, ….I think in that we will find the promised land we’ve forgotten and left to dreams.

be blessed today

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Can You Change Your Daily Narrative?

I just went to the market. I got vegetables, eggs, yogurt, milk, butter, ham and fruit. Oh, and canned tomatoes. Nothing big. Traffic was horrible, but not unusual for this time of day. It was the afternoon and I was coming home from work, after all. I had to pay the guard at the parking lot to park there. I came home, parked the car and unloaded the groceries along with grabbing my messenger bag which had my computer and a few mock ups of a new cafe space we’re moving into. The kids have extracurricular activities today so they will be home later than usual, and as soon as they are, it will be a fury of homework, lunch making for tomorrow, changing out of school clothes and then eventually playing outside. After that, dinner, showers and then off to bed. Yes, this is literally what I just did.

That little narrative probably sounds fairly similar to most of you. Change up a few of the details, but I’m confident most of you can relate to this fairly orchestrated rhythmed day. If I give you more detail, it may sound a little strange. Let’s see…..It was an open air market; some of the food I purchased may come from some shady countries that could be illegal to purchase from in my passport country (the fact that I just said passport country); traffic is bad because the police don’t really understand how to direct traffic; I paid the guard 500 tugrik (that’s the currency here and is worth about $0.22); I parked the car in the underground parking lot of our 16 story apartment building that we live in; I had to carry the groceries from one end of the five building complex’s parking lot to the other, through the underground network of hallways to our elevator; the kids ride in a seven passenger soviet era bus across the city to their international school made up of only 15% non-Mongolians. Does it sound a little odd and off to you?

It probably does. But if you look at the larger picture with the finer detailed pulled out, i”m sure it’s similar to what we go through every single day. It may be in a different city or country than you, but there is a rhythm we each have to our lives. As with anything, that rhythm is really nice…but it can also become mundane, boring, bland, colorless, mute, dull, humdrum and banal. We tend to look around from time to time and think “is this it? I guess so, I’ll just keep trotting along” and we miss the opportunity to thrive. Sure living this way is good, there are times we need to persevere and be persistent even though it may seem boring. And yes, there are times in our lives where there won’t be the excitement of starting something new. Instead there will be maintaining what we have. And, that’s ok. It’s part of life. There are seasons in our lives. We have times that ebb and times that flow.

But just because we are persisting and maintaining doesn’t mean it has to be a mindless task or brainless job. Some of the most intelligent and well read people I have ever met had “ordinary” jobs. They were elementary school teachers, farmers, construction workers, factory line employees, tv repair people, delivery drivers, secretaries, home makers, and others similar to these. The difference is what they did with each day. From what I have seen and can understand, they didn’t allow their rhythmic life to become mundane. They found new ways to be creative, to allow their creativity to come into each and every new day. Well, perhaps not every new day, but a majority of them.

It’s not all unicorns and rainbows in my life either. I get into my ruts and blandness of towing the line. But, thankfully, I have people, books and Jesus to remind me to bring creativity, my creativity, into each day. Jeremiah writes in Lamentations that Gods mercies are new every morning, just like each sunrise and sunset. I am thankfully reminded from time to time that just because I need to maintain whatever task I’m doing, or persist through whatever difficulty I’m going through, it doesn’t mean that it has to be boring. If it’s anything that I’ve learned these past few years is that our God is anything but boring and mundane. We are given the chance, each day, to write our story, change our story, or build upon our story. Perhaps today you can join me in choosing to be creative, choosing to bring your own creativity into the mix of the day and see what washes out. What do you think?

I’d love to hear, and think it would be an encouragement to us all walking this journey, to share on here what creativity you brought to your days this coming week. It spurs us on to living this life more to the fullest!

be blessed today

 

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