A few years ago I offhandedly stated that if I only needed 3 things in life, it would be chicken nuggets, Calvin and Hobbes, and God. And I said this light-heartedly, but I became increasingly aware of how true that statement actually was. Obviously, one of those outweighs the other two given that He’s all-sufficient, but if you’re going to criticize that trifecta on a strictly theological basis, you’re probably reading the wrong blog.
Anyway, the idea was simple enough.
-Chicken nuggets would sustain me physically. It took me until I was about 12 or 13 to stop ordering only chicken nuggets (or chicken fingers because apparently some vendors are too up on their high horses to courteously re-mold their chicken into nugget shapes for me) at every restaurant I went to. Mexican restaurants posed the largest catalyst for this because only the pride of breaking out of the kids menu into the adult one could force my hand against my first, nuggety love. Yet, I still fear the day when my body will suddenly realize that it is, in fact, aged and mature and forcefully shuts down my desire for a chicken nugget. Let us all pray that day never comes.
-Calvin and Hobbes would sustain me emotionally. In 2nd grade I was introduced to Calvin and Hobbes by my teacher, and there was no going back from there. My best friend in 3rd-4th grade and I read the strips avidly and I still browse through my collection on the reg. There has, in my opinion, never been a comic strip that so whole-heartedly understands the world and seeks to make others smile both in spite of it and because of it. Calvin’s spewing out of political/sociological insight alongside his wild fantasies of Spaceman Spiff and Stupendous Man have cemented themselves in my mind as a reminder to stay imaginative and silly, but to ask big questions and expect big answers, even answers you can’t understand yet.
-God would sustain me spiritually. And my greatest problem with this is that it’s putting God in a box of sorts. And putting God in a box of sorts is arguably the most frequent problem we have when you get down to brass tacks. Because whether we doubt him, disobey him, or if we develop a routine of daily devotional and praise- good or bad, we tend to box God up according to the seasons of our lives. And this happens to be a pretty good box, though a box nonetheless. I used to be very good about catching myself when I was exhausted and turning to the word, turning to my brothers and sisters in the church, and leaving uplifted.
The most unfortunate part about that last bit is that it’s past tense. I’m going to be honest- I’ve been exceptionally lazy in my personal time with God. My prayer is constantly in an inconsistent state, and, while I’ve read through the Pentateuch already this semester, it was in fact for my Pentateuch class, not of my own true desire.
The problem with this sort of “Trifecta of Comfort” as I’ve come to call it is that it’s just that: comfort. And I don’t know about you, but it’s easy for me to confuse comfort and rest. Because God has a really good idea of what rest is, and it is quite unlike comfort.
There’s a lot to say about rest in the Bible, but I want to focus on what that root is. Because we’re called to rest, we’re called to keep Sabbath, but that Sabbath is based on God’s own pattern of rest. And let me apologize to you now because if your upbringing was anything like mine, and even if it wasn’t, you probably know a different creation story than what the Bible really tells us.
I have a vivid memory of paper plates with sharpied numbers, 1-7, with crayon drawings behind each one. One was just white: light. Two was an ocean and sky, and so on. And then the deception took place because on day 7 there would be a globe, or a cloud representing God in Heaven and there would be a long strand of Zs coming out of it. Because God rested on that 7th day. But rested is not sleeping, it’s not napping. It’s actually more like God chillin’ on his heavenly La Z Boy with a tube of Pringles and a Sunkist.
That day of rest was God reigning over His creation. And since we’re called to observe Sabbath on the grounds of remembering God’s rest, that brings up some interesting questions about reign.
I begin to wonder about whose reign we’re taking part in here, and it becomes a question of us vs. God in that sense. But I think what we’re really called to is an intersection of our reign over our own lives, and God’s reign over all life. Because we’re not supposed to work when we rest, but there’s a whole lot of creation out there for us to look at, to dwell in, to appreciate.
So maybe we’re called for our rest and our lives to intersect with that of God. There’s a fine line between escapism and rest, and I believe that line lies a lot in intentionality.
My friend yesterday recounted a story he’d heard at a conference from a minister who was super pumped about this flashlight he got. An enthralling hook into the story, I know. But it was one of those 1,000,000 lumens heavy-duty flashlights and he was like “Yes, awesome! I can’t wait for the power to go out so I can use this!” And he puts it in the closet. Months later, there’s a storm and he goes to get the flashlight, but it’s dim, flickers some, and then dies. The batteries had lost the charge. And he does this again when months later the same thing happens. And this story boiled down to the question of: what if whenever we were called to do work for God, we were too tired to do it? And it doesn’t have to be physical work like service, but people work like witnessing or just being present to people, being available.
What if we were too tired to show Jesus?
Escapism is recreational; it’s putting away the reality of the world for a break with ourselves. But rest brings you closer to God because He can truly revive and rejuvenate you.
There’s this interesting dichotomy that I’m always wrestling with between being present to people and being interruptible. Both have the potential to be very powerful in regards to how I interact with people, and I still believe Jesus was the only one to truly get that dichotomy down. But I’m confident that I can’t be either of those if I’m not rested.
I still don’t know how to get good, intentional rest. It’s something I’m working on. But I know my first step is that I want to get back into the Word. And I want to do so with purpose. So often i treat the Bible as something to run back to in an emergency rather than something to keep with me. Souls are a lot like cars in that it’s better to maintain it regularly than to have to run back to the mechanic in bursts.
And of course, I think it comes down to people. And I want to, for now, until I get a better idea of it, split that up. I want to be conspicuously interruptible. But I also want to live more into the importance I place on stories. So every week I want to get someone’s story because for as much as I believe in it, I am insanely bad at asking about people. I’ve already started with a friend of mine this past Thursday night, and let me tell you, not only was it an amazing story, but hearing about someone else’s experiences with God will make your senses so much more attuned to your own. Take a risk and ask. Most everyone’s just waiting to tell you their story.
All of this being said, I have an “announcement” of sorts. One of my friends this week put on her blog that she’ll be taking a “blog-cation.” And I would never steal that word, but I’ve found myself becoming notably fatigued in writing. So here’s my plan:
I’m going to continue doing short stories/poems/micro fiction, but until I get back from Spring Break, I’m going to lay off reflections unless something hits me like a dang freight train that I feel extra compelled to share.
This is part of my practice in rest. Over Spring Break I’ll be really busy with my rapping and poetry projects, and I need to leave wiggle room in their for personal growth and rest, and I feel like this is the place to give that slack.
But here’s the other deal: I’ve been sitting on a sort of series and I think this resting time will be great for getting those thoughts down and getting to speak with the people I want to over it. Because I think it’s going to be good, but it has to be done right to be worth doing. The topics are pretty heavy and I want to make sure I handle it the way it needs to be. To give you an idea, it’s four parts.
And it’s called “F-Bombs.”
So I’m taking some time to myself and God.
As proclaims the title of one of my favorite Calvin and Hobbes collections: The days are just packed.
I just want to make sure that I’m packing them well. And the days that I’m resting, reigning in and with my God… I want those to be the most packed of all.