Tuesday, January 19, 2010

When Your Heart Stops Beating

[reposted from an email originally dated 1/7/10]

Hey, friends;

The title of this email comes from a song by (+44), a little-known (I guess?) band, better known as a side project started by two of Blink-182's members while the latter was on hiatus.

Now, I haven't actually listened to this song in a while; but as I reflected on what God's been working on in my life over last couple of days, (+44)'s lyrics just leapt up from my subconscious:

I'll be there when your heart stops beating
I'll be there when your last breath's taken away
In the dark when there's no one listening...

Take a look at what that chorus is saying - and then take a look at these verses:

"Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel
"without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God."
(Phil 1:27-28)

This isn't really a secret: in high school, I was a pretty emo kid. There may even be (there are) a few composition books back at my parents' house filled with scribbled, angsty poems and lyrics. OK, actually I was a super emo kid - pretty out of control. To the point where my emotional baggage actually got me rejected from MIT (ask if you want to hear the story some time).

Thankfully, God has since changed me radically, into a very different person - in my attitude, hopes, dreams, and thoughts. But, when it all comes down to it, I still find the same desires that fueled my pubescent angst comprising a large part of my motivations.

What are those desires? Pretty simple, really: I don't want to be alone. I don't want to be a failure. I want my life to have meaning, shape, direction.

I thought, when I began seeking God at the end of high school, that I'd put all that in the past: I truly listened to the Gospel for the first time, accepted Jesus as the Creator, Sustainer, and Savior of my life, and found Him to be The Answer:
Lonely? "I will never leave you, nor forsake you."
A failure? "By grace you have been saved, through faith; not coming from your own works, so you cannot boast about it."
Directionless? "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life."

So, Jesus is The Answer - right?


For the past few days, I have found myself repeatedly agonizing over some things that have been laying heavy on my mind. Last night, chatting with Steve Yu '07 for commiseration and advice, he encouraged me to place myself again in front of God, in His hands. OK, I thought to myself - haven't I been doing that? And still, the worrying, the anxiety, the background angst, continue.

Still, knowing that it was the right thing to do - and having thought it over til my brain whirled - I laid down, prayed, and picked up a daily devotional by Charles Spurgeon, which referenced Philippians 1. And so I read the verses above:

"Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

This is a sign ... that you will be saved—and that by God."
Hmm... I will be saved... by God.

And I had a moment of clarity. In which I realized:

God is my life.

Joy and hope in my life don't come from my job; my girlfriend; my health, finances, or any other measure of success.

Over the past few days, I had been inadvertently narrowing down my focus, closing my eyes against everything else except a few, specific, areas of my life.

But, last night, God forced my eyes open again, and reminded me where my future is actually centered. He is the one who redeems my life; He is, as I've heard - and even said - so many times, the Creator and Sustainer of my soul. So, whatever may happen - personally or professionally; physically, emotionally, or spiritually - it is to God that I will look for salvation.

It's funny: for the past few days, as I felt myself wrestled down by worry and anxiety, I tried everything (well, not everything) to comfort myself. And most of that just came down to me thinking around in repetitive circles, listening to my own internal counsel repeat endlessly. And not a single bit of that brought me any relief.

But as soon as God reminded me that my life is not, ultimately, about my self but rather about Him, all the anxiety, the concern, the worry came crashing down. And I could even laugh, knowing that, in the end, all of these concerns are truly miniscule compared to the very good, very beautiful, utterly satisfying and hope-fulfilling end of a life lived in the presence and glory of God.

I'm sad and glad, friends.
Sad that I have so easily let my vision narrow down into a tiny sliver of what vistas it could be perceiving.
Glad that I remembered the one thing of value that I have: the God who is always there.

I'll be there when your heart stops beating
I'll be there when your last breath's taken away
In the dark when there's no one listening...

Thank God.

No comments: