“And on the pedestal these words appear: My name is Ozymandius, King of Kings, Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair! Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
Ozymandius-Percy Bysshe Shelly
I generally enjoy Shelly although for the most part I find him a bit depressing…this poem is a fun thing to read…in explicitness he reminds us that nothing is permanent except the stuff in our lifetime that claims to be (which we have no way of seeing for sure at this moment).
The Sands of Time
As humans we all have a set amount of time (our lifetime) to journey and engage in where we think life will reward us, but since none of us have actually been beyond death and returned we have to take the words of others who have suggested what life looks like beyond our five senses, history, and current progress.
It is here where faith causes us to choose or not choose the kind of life we want to live today, with an eye for something beyond it (or not depending on what you choose to believe) on this timeline of our own life we must build, but it is a lot like trying to build on a line of sand that is slipping through the hour-glass, how is it possible to build anything of permanence using impermanent material?
All of us get to choose and you can choose a life of faith, or a life of “no-faith” based on your conclusions, but what you cannot choose is the time you have spent building the life you now have, that my friend is sand on the other side of the glass you cannot get back.
Shelly will suggest that like Ozymandius all kingdoms will end up simply as monuments in the sand, with no real legacy or proof that they had any viable life beyond their own time…time itself will erase the memory and any greatness that once existed will simply be a miserable record in the desert somewhere.
A New Pope
The Vatican chose a new Pope this week, as a general rule I pretty much ignore all things Catholic, especially having grown up in a Pentecostal tradition that at times bordered on belligerence towards people I now consider my brothers and sisters in the Lord…(I still have not gotten around to forgiving the Catholics for stealing John Michael Talbot away from us, something I am working on)..but this time my journey has made me perk up my ears and say…
I wonder if the Empire of Catholicism can survive much further into the new century wihtou some kind of evolution happening to its core?
Which makes me ask…
I wonder if Evangelical Christianity is much further behind the Vatican in becoming irrelevant to the shape of the world that is coming…?
Alan Hirsch will give us a resounding NO, reminding us that AT BEST on any given Sunday, the VERY BEST church will only reach the highest possible 39% of its community and that number is sliding into lower figures every week…and everyone is trying to copy the very best, so what Evangelicals are doing is trying to reach 39% of our culture with an ineffective approach and we are losing that battle as well.
Its as if we are aiming so low we cannot see the target anymore.
Which makes me ask:
“What in the sam-fat have I been building myself for the last 30 years?”
Is all of it simply sand castles on a beach somewhere that the coming tide will wash back out into the ocean?
Now mind you I am not depressed, far from it, but I am waking up to realizing that a lot of things that were part of my foundations and “felt” like bedrock have been turning up as sand lately…
I had a dream recently where my little brother, who has moved to heaven, told me “that’s why you are stumped financially, you thought all that money you’ve been tithing was required, it never was, it was always your money”…what was amazing about the dream I was in, was the church and big part of a platform there was built on an old tree stump that had not seen growth in 30 years but was built into the support structure of the entire building.
The next day when I woke I had some errands that required driving and the exact same stump that was in my dream was dislodged in a hill not a block from our residence, someone in the night had crashed a car into the hill and uncovered a stump that matched the one in my dream.
There were two other things of note in the dream, the leader of the church had borrowed my car because he didn’t have one, and my car was a a very powerful vintage convertible Thunderbird that was mint green….the second thing was Bill Johnson was in the dream and commented on how powerful my car was, I said, “Its so powerful its a culture of its own” and he said, “Yes that’s exactly the way to say it, it creates its own culture”…
I think the car that dislodged the stump might have been driven by Martyn Shenstone…his book on the tithe and the other one about authority and submission are bothersome reads if you are still building sandcastle empires…
More Questions than answers
So what if just as my dream has suggested you like me have spent 30 years investing in something that will not give you a return? What if you are simply loaning your “mint” green car to someone else to drive and create a culture with, but it was yours all along?
The verse that immediately came into my spirit in the dream was 1 Cor. 3:21 “ALL THINGS ARE YOURS”
There’s no one to blame but yourself, and that does not lessen the pain, and immediately I see that hand in the back asking for a response to the thought that will shout “But God see’s my heart that I had good motive, He will reward me I am sure of that!!!!”
On what basis do you think God is obligated to pay you back for money, resource, time, life, SAND, that was always yours and you spent according to your own choices?
How is it any different than suggesting He pay you back for eating vegetables your whole life therefore you should not get old?
Time. Waits. For. No .One.
Time. Does. Not. Care.
Time is simply an extension of Gods mercy, the fact that you have any at all is a declaration of His goodness, not some arbitrary random pile of sand that has no meaning.
Sowing and reaping.
I once complained to the Lord that for 30 years of ministry I had never ever been paid, whats the deal Jesus? His answer startled me…
He said “I did not want you to have to give an account of what you did with the widow and orphans substance”
I immediately saw, for me at least, it was Gods grace that had not allowed me to get paid for all those years of faithful service and sacrifice, because a good portion of the money that I would have received came from those disenfranchised people who were giving in hope out of their substance. (I make NO comment here about others in ministry who have gotten paid, this was His answer to MY question and it is personal and has no bearing on others)
So whats the trade-off? Isn’t there something you should expect from the Lord? What about sowing and reaping? What about “the workman is worthy of his hire”?
These are areas I have not sorted out yet…I am to busy moving my lunch pail further up the beach to be bothered with that right now, the tide is starting to wash in and the old stumps are going to be washed out and I only have so much sand to work with anyway so why waste it on debates of where the servants quarters should go in this sand castle empire?
Do I think God rewards faithful people? Absolutely… I have banked my entire life on that and Hebrews makes it clear that you MUST believe He is a REWARDER…and the truth is I haven’t suffered much…I live in one of the richest nations on the planet, eat a very healthy diet, live in relative ease compared to a good portion of the planet, what have I got to complain about?
I will admit to being frustrated a bit discovering that it has been my own car that has contributed to a culture of sand…I could have been enjoying a much different journey, but the truth is, I enjoyed making some of those sand castles, they were fun and I had fun with the people who I worked along side of…
But ultimately I want to build something on the other side of the glass…that side has a lot more than sand…it is eternal and full of real castles that I can live in…
So I’m trying to get my own car back…but I want to do it in love…because love is one of the few things we know that builds on both sides of the hour-glass…and then offer up some hope…and keep building your faith…
What does that look like? I don’t know yet, lots of people on the planet are building things some in sand and many who are not…
Jesus said he came to seek and to save the lost…then he said “as the Father sent me, so I send you”…
It is my belief that if I want any joy I need to build the way Jesus built since he’s the only guy who claims to have come back from the other side of time…the foundation he said to build upon was his words…
Doing the things he did…seeking and saving that which is lost….