In the Belly of the Whale

What do you do when you’re in the belly of the whale?

I see a lot of posts, and hear a lot of advice from people who laugh and give nostalgic smiles, and say things like

“I used to be like you… full of dreams, full of passion. But I realized that life didn’t work that way. You need to buckle down and work hard. Put aside your passions until your can afford it. Put a fire under you and take on the jobs you don’t like… because even the best jobs are going to have days you don’t like! But God is faithful to those who work hard. Those who have ambition. Those who take life into their own hands and instead of waiting for him to do something make something with what they have! Remember the parable of the talents!”

But the problem is… what if your dreams and passions are to keep food on your table and a roof over your head? What if it’s not about doing work that’s unpleasant, but being overwhelmed from crying yourself to sleep as your body continues to break down one thing after another? What if you’re dealing with the sins in your life, trying to make responsible choices, but then thieves come, investments fall through, unexpected expenses keep popping up with health and things breaking?

5 years ago, I tried to live life according to my dreams… I took a job offered to me that would bring me closer to the person I was dating, I got an apartment that I could afford and seemed sturdy and safe. My plan was to work my way up and muscle through the grunt labour for a year or two so I could apply for better jobs and put my business diploma to use. Then when I was self sufficient I would marry my girlfriend, and we could live a nice, simple life, trying to help out those in our community around us by sharing with what God had blessed us with.

But as I worked there, I discovered something worrisome. I discovered that my best was below mediocre. I discovered my body was physically not capable of keeping up with the bare minimum requirements needed to keep working.

For an entire year I pushed myself. I lost about 60 lbs (40 of which were in the first 2 months), I saw my doctor, I exercised, I ate well, I pushed myself to the point that I would pass out for two days straight, and was often coughing up blood from the exertion barely being able to speak anymore… and yet not only could I not keep up with those who would simply be chatting or goofing off… my numbers were actually getting worse! I tried applying for other jobs, but my employee profile was tied to my ability to do my job, so my resumes would be instantly thrown out before they were even looked at. I was given a tough choice… quit with no job, or risk permanent damage to my body….

I chose the former and moved back home… then ended up working 6 hours a week for a year which put me into further debt. I wasn’t just a victim… I shop when I’m stressed… sometimes it’s for investments I think can help me move forward, sometimes it’s for distractions to distract me from reality around me. I got to my eyeballs in debt in spite of my applying everywhere and trying every angle I could get… Finally I fasted and prayed, and the next day I was offered a job as janitor at my church that I hadnt even applied for.

Around that time, I started studying Japanese. Originally it was just a step towards learning many languages (make your first your hardest and all other languages will be easy) but during that time, God slowly put Japan on my heart more and more. Till finally I asked Him to send me where He wants and He put Japan on my heart….. But I was up to my eyeballs in debt… and graduated college not university which makes immigration tough! And I knew my parents would hate the idea considering how much trouble I was already in!

So I backed out, justifying it by saying to God, “If you can provide the way there and win over my parents, I’ll study the language because thats all I can do!”

And I continued running… hiding and waiting for there to be less and less obstacles in my path… God offered many opportunities for me to follow… People who seemed eager to help me, contacts in conversation schools and churches… but I put them off… because I was scared… because I felt I couldnt do it… I was Jonah running from Ninevah. Though not because I feared Ninevah, because I feared the land I was in right now.

When I had the injury back in May, I realized I couldn’t run anymore (literally) I realized, it wasnt about trying to find a safe path to follow God… I needed to follow God so HE could lead me down the safe paths. And so I applied for University… I did serious research. I confronted my parents. I studied seriously…. I took myself from If God makes a way” to “I WILL follow Him!”

But now I am in the belly of the whale…. it must have been hard for Jonah… to finally decide to follow God and realize it was beyond his power to do so…. I understand that fully… But what do you do in those situations? When questions like “Where will I live, where will I work, how will I afford these next 2 years until I can go?” Fill your head.

You pray. You pray and you follow God.

The whale that prevented Jonah from going to Ninevah is exactly what got him there.

Pray and follow God. Trust in Him, not your own understanding. Human wisdom and pride are poor companions for following God. Focus on what you can do now. Let God worry about what you can’t do.

You are not making the path. You are following the maker!

You can do it. You are not alone. Amen

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Fighting the True Enemy

Do not spend your life fighting people. It is exhausting and a waste of time.
 
Are people ideals? I have never met an ideal person in my life! We are so much more complex than that.
 
Ideals are. People choose. But as we choose we change how we see this world.
 
We do not change what truth is, for truth is only truth no matter if you see it or not. But as we accept one thing or another, aspects of the truth becomes easier and harder to see.
 
No aspect is easier to see than the faults of those around us. No aspect is harder to see than the faults within ourselves.
 
We are slaves bound to our beliefs. There is no helping or changing that. But as far as slaves go, we are given more freedom than most. We are slaves who can choose our master (though our current master may fight a bit before they let us go)
 
But throughout it all, no matter what belief we serve, or aspect we chase after. We are still, and always will be humans just like EVERY one else. Our perspective is limited. We overlook important consequences to our actions every day.
 
Did Disney make films with the intentions of telling girls to be bound to misery until some man comes along to save you enthralled by your beauty? NO! He wrote movies to inspire children to dream, in a day and age where dreams were considered worthless and the future looked grim and hopeless.
 
Was candy invented to create a world of obese, and unhealthy children? No! It was made to give children something they enjoyed and would want.
 
And yes I will go there. In WWII, there were many unforgivable and inhuman things done, but did Germany turn to Hitler because they wanted to get together and torture Jews and Gypsies, as well as several other types of people? NO! They were won over by talks of the financial suffering inflicted upon them by the treaty of Versailles, and the Jews and Gypsies were used as scape goats, with books upon books of biased stats and reports showing how they were the cause of the world’s problems and suffering through conspiracies and manipulation…. much like what we talk about our scape goats of current day.
 
Does this mean that these people were justified in their actions? That we should celebrate and support their beliefs because they originally meant well?
 
STOP TREATING THIS WORLD AS BLACK AND WHITE! You’ve spent 60-some years now protesting and parading about how this world has many shades to it! Support the belief yourselves!
 
Bad things happened. Some by innocent mistake, some by the slippery slope of throwing away morals.
 
BUT HERE IS THE POINT!
 
The bad things we do are not ingrained in who we are. They are not part of so many rotten spots that you have to throw away the entire apple.
 
We come to accept one lie, like we are wiser than anyone else. We are more important than anyone else. We are capable of things the rest of the world is not. We have to protect ourselves as the entire world is against us. An entire people live with the only purpose to conspire against us. The world is scared of us. Etc
 
Once that lie takes root. Other falsities begin to sprout from it.
 
Creatures evolve from survival of the fittest -> If only the fittest bred it would probably cause a species to evolve faster -> Clearly we are the genetically advanced race because we understand this and I know we’re pretty strong -> We should avoid having children with lesser genetic samples -> In fact we should keep other genetic samples from having children altogether! -> in fact why are we wasting our important medical supplies on people who are genetic wastes. Why do we even treat them as humans when we’re their genetic superiors. Let’s just kill the trash and be done with it for the sake of the world!
 
This isn’t made up. This is the thought process that led to a giant number of deaths in WWII… and the scariest part of all is that up until that last segment, it wasn’t just Germany, it was all of Western culture taking part. This is the power of justification. This is the power of blinding ourselves to our own actions by focusing only on those we consider our enemies.
 
But at the same time. All the evil that was done, sprouted from one, strong, deeply rooted lie.
 
“We are better than others.”
 
This one lie is the root of much of the most evil deeds done in this world, though it comes in many unique flavours.
 
“We are genetically superior to others!”
“We are morally better than others!”
“We are less manipulated than others!”
“We are religiously better than others!”
“We are bloodline wise better than others!”
“We are monetarily shrewder than others!”
“We are patriotically better than others!”
“We are politically better than others!”
 
The list goes on, but the root is all the same. It’s the belief that you are justified in your actions because you are better than those around you. But if you can cut off that root…. the rest of your arguments falter.
 
If you are not better than others, than why should you not help them?
If you are not better than others, then what right do you have to attack or abuse them?
If you are not better than others, why should all focus be about you?
If you are not better than others, why should you force them to do what you do? Encourage them yes, but force them??
 
We all focus on the external battles alone. Those who start mobs. Wars fought. Murders done. Mistreatments made…. but in each person in each physical war… there has been an internal war they are fighting.
 
The aggressors in a physical war are always the losers and victims of their own internal war. And believe it or not, they are already suffering for it!
 
Pity the racist, for they miss out on the pleasure and wisdom of so much of this world!
Pity the sexist because they will never benefit from the wisdom and abilities of the opposite gender!
Pity the anarchist, because they have locked themselves in a world where they believe themselves to be the only person who will ever look out for themselves!
Pity the vigilante, because they have found themselves trapped in an ever growing lust for greater and greater suffering for those they call their enemies. It is a world where the hate you throw at your enemies begins to pale to the disgust you find in yourself.
 
People are not your enemy! This world is not so simple as that! Fight against people and you will not stop their cause. You will simply strengthen their resolve. They will tell themselves that this world needs people like them all the more because people like you exist!
 
Realize you are targeting their ideals. Ideals that have been founded by a stem that has taken root!
 
The stem of a plant is the furthest down and thus the hardest to find, but it is also thinnest, and easiest to cut.
 
Attack the twigs and branches, and you will spend your lifetime pruning away. Attack the stem, and the whole plant will fall over in one fell swoop.
 
But more than anything. Realize you are human as well.
 
DO NOT tell yourself you are better than them simply because you cannot understand their most topical actions.
DO NOT tell yourself they are less than human because of what they have done.
DO NOT tell yourself you are justified in doing whatever you want with them because your cause is just and theirs is evil.
 
You are fighting ideals not people. If you become their ideal, to fight their ideal, you may have won the battle, but the war shall continue with you as the new enemy.
 
Finally, though I have said this many times, I find people need it spelt out as clearly as can be these days,
 
THIS IS NOT TO SAY ‘DO NOT STAND UP AGAINST EVIL!’
 
Evil will always be in this world. Evil will never be fully defeated. But we have a duty to stand up for those who are hurt and to protect them, and fight to build a better future.
 
What this IS to say is that if you truly want to fight evil, and not just fulfill a vindictive buzz, make sure you target the true enemy, and not just the little grunts who follow him.
 
News flash for you. Your enemy doesn’t care how many of his puppets you abuse or torture. Actually it makes him delighted to see you turning over to his side!
 
You are in the middle of a war. It is a much bigger war than most people ever live to realize. If you want to keep fighting puppets and meat bags, you will only find yourself overwhelmed and then taken to the side you thought you hated the most. But if you cut off the supply routes, build up defenses, and show the grunt soldiers the lies they were told about you were false, you will watch as your enemies begin to collapse, imploding one after another.
 
This is not a simple schoolyard fight. This is war.

Follow Him

Why is this world so scary?
 
Why do we hold so much fear?
 
What job will we have?
What will they think of us?
Will I get in trouble for this?
Will this work?
Will I have enough money to pay my bills this month?
Will I end up on the streets?
Will I lose everything I own?
Will I go bankrupt?
Will I live my life single?
Will they be offended?
Will they be disappointed in me?
Will they scold me again?
Will I lose support?
What if I get sick?
What if another emergency comes up?
 
We take worry after worry upon ourselves. We lose sleep and energy over obsessing over them. We go to great lengths to knock out as many threats as we can… but to what end?
 
You can give life your best to the point of exhaustion and depression, but if God so wills in, you will be accused of being a slacker.
 
You can apply to thousands of jobs, with a perfect resume, and wonderfully supported cover letter, but if God so wills it you will continue being overlooked and picked over for people with better smiles
 
You can be supportive and wise, but unless it’s the time God permits, you will only ever be considered “Just a friend.”
 
You can search the wisest people for direction and advice, but unless God inspires them, they will just tell you what you’ve already known and have already been working on as if it is the “Save all Answer”
 
You can live like a monk and save what pennies you can, but unless God protects you, all it takes is one scam, one unexpected crisis, and you’ll find yourself even deeper in the hole.
 
You can obsess over self care, taking all sorts of medicines, avoiding things you’re weak at, and exercising to grow stronger, but unless God watches over you, in three seconds you can have an accident that will ruin everything.
 
We are not on this earth to please others. We are not on this earth to protect/provide for ourselves. We are not on this earth to show the best business practices, wisest lifestyle choices, or best relationship advice.
 
We are here to follow God where He leads. To show what He can do through us. To show how He defies all logic. How to the world His logic is madness, but to Him their wisdom is meaningless.
 
At the end of the day, do not worry about the hundreds of thousands of people you must keep happy in order to follow God. In the end you are only responsible for following Him. If people get angry at you, it is because He let that happen in your life. If you go through loss, it’s because He let it happen. But do not be sidetracked trying to appease the many voices that come at you from all sides. Focus only on following God! He is able to restore all that you have lost and more. He is able to protect you no matter where you go. He is able to provide for you, no matter what you have. He can do more with nothing than you could do with everything.
 
Follow Him so you can have no shame. No matter what others say. No matter how they misinterpret you. No matter how they judge you from your state of life, not what you are doing. Realize God is the judge. God is the provider. That there is nothing you can accomplish without Him. So cling to Him, follow Him. Trust in Him
 
Amen

Godly Courage

“If you pray for courage, the Lord will provide”
 
and He does. He has the ability to change you from a “My mouth tastes like adrenaline, I haven’t slept in weeks, and I want to throw up” wreck, into an amazingly relaxed calm in a surprisingly short amount of time.
 
But He doesn’t do it by making you forget your problems, or giving you a testosterone high of ignorance. In my experience, it has never been “Courage” the Lord has given, but “Perspective”
 
The perspective to realize that God is in control.
The perspective to see your overwhelming weakness and all the mistakes you’ve made and realize, God already knew that about you.
The perspective to realize God still can and still will use you for great things.
The perspective to realize that God loves you, and it is because of that that we can ask Him for help.
The perspective to realize that all the voices saying to fear and despair don’t matter because HE IS
 
It is from that perspective that you can find peace. It is from that perspective you can breathe easy yet again. It is from that perspective that you can switch from crying out “God save me! Lord show mercy!” to “Praise the Lord for what you have not yet done but WILL do for YOU are Lord!”
 
This world will tell you many things. To panic, to fret. That if you aren’t outwardly showing signs of the panic you are in at every second you are clearly not taking matters seriously enough.
 
Even in the church we fall into this trap. We believe God cannot move unless we do. We believe God plays a support role in our life but not a leader.
 
But God CAN and God WILL save.
 
Give God your best
Be willing to go where HE will lead not where YOU want Him to
Trust HIS timing, not your own
He CAN and WILL use you for Great things.
He never told us to carry this world on our shoulders. He only told us to believe and follow Him.
 
Amen.

At the End of My Rope

What do you do when your best isn’t enough? What do you do when your prayers aren’t being answered? Or even worse, your strongest prayers are met with greater hardships within minutes? What do you do in the times when the greatest proof that there is a God is that it makes no logical sense for your hard work to be met with such emptiness and for your luck to be THIS bad with such timing?
 
At least when you are holding back or not facing something you can at least find comfort in the fact that life would be better if you kicked your butt into gear. But what about when you’re trying your hardest? What about when you’ve addressed every sin and weakness that you can think of? What when your ambitions have led to making the burns worse every time? When you’ve failed so many times and the fires grow so big that you’ve forgotten which way is forward, which is back, which is up, and which is down?
 
What when you seek wisdom and you just are told what you’ve already been doing? What when you seek comfort, and instead find pain and emptiness? What about when you’ve forgotten how to dream and want, because all you dream and want is just to survive another day? What when what you find through prayer and the Bible, vs what the wise people in your life tell you clash?
 
Do you blame people? For their empty words… for their offensive comfort? It is not their fault…. If they say what they feel God is leading them to say, it’s not a matter of saying what is wise, or what will help you. It’s up to say what they feel God is leading them to say. Whether it comfort you or test you further.
 
Do you blame society? The cruel, cold, and empty machine… who at one point was designed to face a problem, but has long since forgotten it’s purpose, and is now run by fools who only know how to milk it dry to prolong the time till their own punishment reaches them? Such a ridiculous thing is out of your control and you were never meant to rule the world in the first place…. you wouldn’t be much better at it…
 
You realize that you are part of a bigger game… A game that transcends society, feelings, emotions, relationships…. yet a game that is simpler than most…. a game between God who wants you to trust Him and to show what wonders can be done through Him, and the Devil who wants to convince you how much better the world would be off without God.
 
I can’t say what works and what doesn’t in this world…. I am not that wise, and if I could then what would be the point of faith. I write now not as a conquering hero who overcame hardships and saw a brighter future… but as a weak, confused, and lost little kid… who is completely overwhelmed, with the room spinning, confused, and out of ideas of what to do…. but I write this now not out of searching for pity…. but because THESE are the points when it is most important to decide….
 
It is when you have no strength left that you most need to stand.
It is when you have no hope left that you most need your faith.
It is when you have no path left that you most need to move forward.
It is when you feel empty that you must keep running on full.
It is when you feel most abandoned that you must know how loved you are.
It is when you feel most abused that you must accept how blessed you are.
It is when you want it all to end, that you MUST keep going forward.
 
I know not what the future holds… and quite honestly, from where I stand I see no light. I see no hope. I see no peace. I find little to no comfort from others. I see no way my future can work out. I feel like no matter what I say or do, more bad news will come in a few minutes time. I feel like this is all my life is… all my life has been… and all my life ever will be… The thought of being excited for the future… having things I can’t wait to see happen… hope… they all sound like luxurious dreams which people like me have no right to have. But I know what the Bible says…. and even if I haven’t seen it…. even if I never do see it… I am going to follow it..
 
It says that if you are lost then God will find you (Luke 19:10)
 
It says that when you feel unloved, unimportant, or insecure, to remember to whom you belong (Ephesians 2:19-22)
 
It speaks of how God is able to do abundantly more than what we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20)
 
It says how God can turn our storms and devastation into something good (Romans 8:28)
 
It says even what is intended for harm, God can use for good! (Genesis 50:20)
 
It says how the Lord will give you strength when you have none (2 Timothy 4:17)
 
It says how this battle was never ours but God’s (2 Chronicles 20:15)
 
It says how there is nothing the Devil can steal from us which God can not restore, and how the one thing the Devil can not steal from us is God Himself!
 
It says how patience and perseverance are rewarded but at God’s timing not our own.
 
It says how we shall never be abandoned. How we are loved in spite of our weaknesses.
 
That God knows our weaknesses and still has great plans for us.
 
That none of this life has caught God off guard or by surprise. That He knew our weaknesses and problems before they even came to be.
 
That God works all things to His glory, beyond human comprehension
 
That it is not our ability but our faith to Him that let’s Him use us
 
That He can use the uneducated, those with rough pasts, the socially inept, the weak, the cowards, the proud, and more
 
That even though we should never stop combatting our weaknesses, that God accepts us in spite of them and can use us in spite of them.
 
That our circumstances are not directly tied to our efforts or our path. It is up to God to decide who rises and who falls.
 
That He brings rest for the weary, hope for the helpless, strength for those who can move no further.
 
That He is GOD and that He can do great things. That no matter what comes our way we are never beyond His saving.
 
So while I know not what the future holds… I barely know what tomorrow will be like…. and while I fear more suffering and hardships because even if God is strong enough to face all things, I am not and I passed the end of my rope years ago…. I know that He is God… that my life always has and always will rest in His hands. That no, there is no way to save myself… but God put me in a place where no one but Him could save me for His glory and for my strength. Much like chasing away the armies for Gideon, or putting Job through trials and ridicule…. He is the Lord. He is God. He is the only truth and way. And so yes I am scared. Yes I am tired. No I don’t even want to wake up tomorrow…. but I can come to Him about this…. I can come to Him with how I feel…. because He is God. And He loves me. And He already knew in the first place.
 
Amen

Societal Forces

(Originally from Twitter which is why it’s an odd format)

Society is maintained through balance, and Balance is maintained through two conflicting forces that have obtained equilibrium.
 
As hard as you push for your ideal, there will be someone who pushes back equally. No matter how hard you pull, the same will result
 
There have never been “Winners and Losers” in this world, Only temporary imbalances. No matter which side loses, resistance will return
 
We judge our struggle by the pain we feel. We judge others’ by the pain we assume they have. But no one can know what another feels. No one even really knows what WE ourselves feel. We only have assumptions based on the trial and error of our lives and wisdom from others.
 
So what is the answer? Should we give up pushing and pulling altogether? Well… that would be impossible.
 
Even if you lived your life without ideals for your direction, that in itself would be the ideal with your direction.
 
The greatest pushers of our age are those who say you shouldn’t push. The greatest pullers are those who say pulling destroys
 
You cannot have no impact at all on this world. You cannot know what the other side feels or acts. So what can you do?
 
As I said… there is balance. As hard as you push or pull, you will only be met back with equal resistance.
 
To focus on one force alone will only keep growing until you are finally overwhelmed. But a balance between the two, may have potential
 
Pull too hard and you give up what you stand for. Push too hard and you will live and die alone. Do both equally and see what happens
 
If you have morals, live for them. Do not give them up to make others more comfortable. But don’t lock others out because they are not you
 
Do not give up who you are so you can fit in. Do not give up on others so they can fit you.
 
There IS right and wrong in this world. There ARE things people do that hurt others. But you can advise others, not control them
 
Do not be frustrated by the lack of control over others when you cannot control yourself! Do not fight others when you cannot fight yourself
 
Most important, consider no life a virus or a waste. Even those who offend you to your core. Their actions and beliefs are not what they are
 
At the end of it all, we are all people. We will be right on some things and wrong on others.
 
No life is devoted to ruining yours. They are devoted to living life the best that they can, even if they are wrong,they are trying like you
 
Stand strong. Accept generously. Live as an example, not as a crusade! /endrant

What Is Strength?

What is strength? What is weakness?
 
Compared to true strength, are we not all weak? Compared to true wisdom, are we not all fools? Compared to true power, are we not all hopeless?
 
Yet true strength, wisdom, and power are things humanity is not capable of. And as such we lower our expectations. We lower the transfer point between strength and weakness. It is hard to imagine what you have not seen and cannot comprehend so it makes sense that we do that.
 
So by human standards… what is strength, and what is weakness?
 
Some would argue that a strong person is one who goes through life without breaking a sweat. “That person gets all A’s… they pass every trial… they got the job they want, the family they dreamed of, everything is going their way… I wish I was that strong… I feel too weak to even cover basic survival in life… how am I supposed to have the strength to be ambitious as well?”
 
But is that strength? Is that person truly strong? Or has that person simply not faced trials yet like you have?
 
If that were all there were to being “strong” then there would be a strength to weakness the strong cannot imagine.
 
The weak face failure. The weak face hardships. The weak face tasks they cannot overcome. The weak are forced to adapt. The weak are forced to compromise. The weak are forced to think of new ways forward aside from the straight path that the rest have taken.
 
Life WILL have trials… no matter who you are. The fact that you face them while others does not mean you are weak… in fact, it means that you have a strength the strong do not have. To know your weakness, and to be forced to think of a way around it… is that not a strength in itself?
 
I would argue that it is not the strong who can keep moving forward in life. Instead I would argue the ones who keep moving forward are strong.
 
It is not about what strength you have to face the current circumstances that decide if you are strong or not.
 
If Usain Bolt ran against a series of kindergarten students and won…. who would seem stronger? The kindergarten kids who tried their hardest only to lose? Or Bolt who breezed through and won…. Now if the rest of their lives this match continued… who would BE stronger? The one who is simply breezing through on ability? Or the ones who seek to push past their own??
 
It is not strength that lets us move forward… it is moving forward that gives us strength. What matters is not how much you fail. What matters is not how much easier those around you succeed. What matters is that you never give up. Pick yourself up. And keep moving forward!