Mitchell Richards [Words]

Month: June, 2010

It Only Ends Once

All through the pages of the Bible we hear reference to this God character. Sometimes He speaks from the sky, other times He speaks through the moths of animals, bushes, and sometimes through the mouths of prophets. We see His actions played out or ignored. But in some rare occasions, we see a glimpse of our Creator in a different light, a different perspective of an all knowing and all seeing God. Every once in a while, we see His “wrath”. We see God, for lack of a better term, freak out. We see Him destroy cities that are unfaithful and immoral, and we even see Him wipe out the entire world once.

I find comfort–yes comfort–in knowing that God freaks out from time to time. It helps me realize that God, Creator of the universe, sort of has emotions. He freaks out, He gets upset, He has the God equivalent to punching a wall. But the beauty of God having emotions is that is He is capable of those things, He is also capable of their opposites. If God is capable of anger, He is capable of pure love. If He is capable of destroying the world in a flood, then He is also of capable of building a new one. When God gets disappointed in my screw ups, I find hope that He, if I play my cards right, could be proud of my accomplishments. On the flip side of this, if He is capable of speaking to His people through His people, then maybe He is also capable of being silent. If He is capable of answering our cries then He could choose to just simply hear them some days.

Now, we are made in God’s image, and not the other way around. I’m not saying that God is some sort of emo teenager getting upset and trashing their room and brushing their hair over their eyes. But I am just thinking about how, in God’s image, we have some of His attributes. Just as someone may have their mother’s nose and their father’s eyes, we may have some characteristics of our Father in us. We freak out and get upset, but maybe we are capable of real and pure love as well. If we feel despair, we must know that we are capable of being rescued. If our world has been ruined, we have hope that a new one is coming. When we disappoint God, just realize that we have the ability to make Him proud.

Just as it is with the rest of life, I believe this all works in a beautiful circle. A never ending process of grace. One thing leads to another and the cycle repeats, and it only ends once. It ends when this world is made new, and we move on into a true and beautiful Kingdom.

Maybe one day I will realize that what I refer to as “God freaking out” may just have been apart of the plan all along, just apart of the cycle of grace. I don’t believe that God throws temper tantrums or anything like that, He is not a child…we are.

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Needing Grace

The other day at work, I wasn’t feeling very well and we were getting busy and I just didn’t want to be there…at all. It was one of those moments where I was about to flip out on a random person for no particular reason because my stress levels were skyrocketing through the roof.

I was playing my iPod through the stereo in the back like I always do, and a song came on by Robbie Seay Band called “Lament (We Cannot Wait)” (listen below, there are lyrics under the video)

We’ve seen mothers bury sons
And we’re begging You to come
Oh, oh, oh
The broken fill our towns
And the hopeless shout aloud
Oh, oh, oh

We cannot wait
We cannot wait
Oh, we cannot wait

When the poor are thrown aside
The sick are left to die
Oh, oh, oh, oh

We need Your grace, oh God
Your grace, oh God
We need Your grace
We cannot wait, oh God
Your grace, oh God
We need Your grace

You are here
Your Kingdom come
Rescue us from all we’ve done
Help us move and be the love
Save us now from all we’ve done
We’ve seen mothers bury sons
And we are begging You to come
We are begging You to come
God, come

Sing oh, oh, oh, oh

I couldn’t help but to think of the times that I have needed God’s grace. There have been times where I have felt that I couldn’t wait, that I could not survive any longer without it.

Somewhere through the course of our busy lives, we lose grace. Some days, I can’t get away from it, but most days I am in search of it. I have to ask myself, how? How do I lose it? How do I stop feeling it and begin pursuing other lovers and other fills?

Notice, the song doesn’t say “we want your grace”, instead it says that “we need your grace”. We have all had these moments, right? These moments when we thought we had been beat up and broken down before, but somehow it has gotten worse? Somehow our worst moments are all rushing back into our souls to create one giant burden.

Sometimes, life just kicks our asses, but if there is one thing I know about God it’s that He always hears the cry of His children. There is nothing wrong with shouting out to God, there is nothing wrong with lamenting. There is nothing wrong with asking questions, hard and tough questions. Like I’ve always said, life isn’t always rainbows and unicorns, gummy bears and field trips. Life is tough, but if it weren’t tough we wouldn’t understand it. There is another life, something beyond what we see with our eyes, where the life we see with our eyes is actually found. It is hidden to us until we decide to find it. Just like in my favorite TV show ever, LOST, if you watched the show thinking it was about people stranded on an island, you missed the entire message behind the show. Just like life, if you are seeing it just as it is you are missing the point. The point isn’t hard times and drama, yet these are the things we tend to focus on. It’s about learning the difference between wanting and needing grace. Life isn’t about celebrities and reality TV. It’s about learning the difference between wanting and needing grace. It’s not about finding a mate and climbing mountains. It’s about learning the difference between wanting and needing grace. It’s about being desperate. It’s about lamenting and tearing your shirt in frustration.

Why is life about these moments?

Because it isn’t until we experience these moments that we can experience grace. We will never find grace in this world we see with our eyes, we must move into this other world, and once we find it, invite others into it. We won’t find grace here on earth, not until grace comes crashing into it one Day. I’ll see you there…but until then, don’t be afraid, God is with you…lament, raise your voice, He is listening.

(Ever since I heard The Robbie Seay Band for the first time a few years back, I have been a huge fan. I’m not a huge fan of Christian music in general, I tend to find it pretty watered down and…well…not good. But RSB is amazing, their music has found me in some pretty rough times in life and has lifted my spirits. So I encourage you to buy their latest album, Miracle, as well as everything else they’ve ever put out. Click here for iTunes link)

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Greatest Hits

The other day I turned 25…I thought it would be nice to start thinking about some of my most memorable moments of living a quarter of a century. It was really fun to look back and remember certain times in my life, but I began to notice that some of my most memorable moments ever have occurred in the last year or so. I have been blessed so much with great friends and family, and I have made a conscience effort to begin living a better life and better story. You all mean so much to me and without you my life would be very much boring. So whether you’ve been with me for years, or you are just hoping on, thank you. I hope you can find time to make a greatest hits list for yourself and begin to look back on your life.

I think that there are two kinds of greatest hits albums for musicians. One is when their careers are fading and they just need to sell something, anything. But the other is in the middle of their careers, they will release it as if to say, “This is who we were, now, join us to discover what we could be.”

That is my hope for you and my life. This is where we have been together, now, let’s continue and remember while creating new memories and friends.

I love you all very much and I do not deserve you.

These are just a few of my greatest hits, I know I am leaving a lot out. Feel free to post your own or some memories that we have shared together in the comments section. (Click image for higher resolution)

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Veils and Moths

The Bible has a few mentions that we, the Church, are the bride of Christ. Today I would like to talk about a more literal metaphor from traditional American weddings that may play into this idea of being the bride of Christ: the veil. The veil is apart of the bride’s dress, that piece of see-through material that covers the bride’s face until she is ready to lift it in front of her groom.

I have never worn a veil, but I do imagine it is somewhat hard to see in. I know it’s see through and all, but something tells me in obstructs the view and the peripherals. I assume that it is not like wearing a blindfold though, I understand that there is limited vision, but I suppose that it’s not something you just want to wear around all day. The wedding veil hides the face of the bride until the groom is ready for her.

Do you ever feel like there is something more to life than what you are actually seeing? Like maybe you are viewing life through a veil? Tat something is obstructing the entire existence? I feel like that way a lot, and I am beginning to think that the reason I feel this way is because I am not meant to see it. That maybe the reason I can’t see past the veil of my wedding dress is because I am not meant to, that I am wearing this veil for a reason. I am not saying that God hides things from us, I don’t think He is like that, but I think that God shows us things by not allowing us to see others. The veil is apart of the deal, the dress, and not understanding everything is apart of the veil.

Now, I believe that there are things in this life that we are not to understand, things that make zero sense and aren’t supposed to.

“Can a mortal ask questions that God finds unanswerable? Quite easily I would think; all nonsense questions are unanswerable. How many hours are there in a mile? Is yellow square or round? Probably half of the questions we ask, half of our great theological and metaphysical conundrums, to God are just like that.” –CS LEWIS

I think that life is hard because life is supposed to be hard. I don’t think we would be much of anywhere is life were able to be put into coast and we just lazily wandered down the road, taking naps at the wheel because our alignment is perfect and the road is straight. I don’t think that we are designed for ease or for comfort. It may be cliché, but I guess that things that don’t kill you actually make you stronger. It may take time to see it, and it may never make much sense, but I do believe it to be true. The things we want most in life should always be the things that bring us the most opportunity for pain. I’m not talking about buying new cars and new TVs, but what drives us in life? What s the thing that we have told ourselves we will do tomorrow for the last 1,000 yesterdays? What is the thing that we give up daily, but know that it is the only thing keeping us sane? For me, it’s writing. Before I started writing a lot more frequently a few years ago, I had a lot of issues with my temper and was a very frustrated person. The only way I ever felt a release from this stress was through writing; short stories, blogs, journaling, stuff about my spirituality, all of it would help to curb the stress in my life while being able to fill a certain creativity void. Ironically, the only thing that keeps my head level is the same thing that knocks it off it’s axis, in other words, I freak out and stress about wiring more than any other part of my life. The more and more I write, the less and less I make mistakes in life. The more and more I write, the less and less I worry about trivial things in the day to day. And somewhere in the shuffle, the days that I do not write I do not sleep, I get agitated and aggressive, and I don’t think straight.

What is your thing that you so desperately need to survive? As my friend Lanie once told me, today is your now or never. Like I have said, the things that will be most rewarding in our one shot at life are the things we have to fight for, the things we have to lose sleep over, the things that we have to break free of something else for. Like the moth in the cocoon, we can pray to God to have Him cut the cocoon open and let us out, but we will not be strong enough for the road ahead. So go ahead, pray and ask God for stuff and see what happens, see what prosperity may fall on you. But maybe try praying for a little rough patch every now and then, maybe pray for a little rain, a little storms. Pray to be confused and lost, because it is in the moments that we are lost that we discover that we are found. You cannot know the destination of life without first knowing everything that is not the destination. You cannot know what being found is until you know what the hopelessness of feeling lost is. You can’t fly without first squirming and wiggling out of your cocoon.

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Training Wheels

It occurred to me at work today…

Maybe I should say…

Today at work, I remembered something that I have always known, a fact that often gets lost in the shuffle, that being that God never holds anything over us.

By that, I mean that God never uses our mistakes as leverage. Although He is God, He never really acts like it until we need Him to. He never rubs His power in our faces, He never brags that He is Almighty, all knowing, all seeing, and all that jazz…He never toys with us, as if we were pawns in some sort of game, rather He breathes life into us, offering us free will to choose, and hands us a pen and allows us to write the story of our own life. He never ties a carrot or a steak on a fishing pole to dangle it in front of our faces in order to go the direction He wants us to.

The thought occurred to me when I was thinking about a relationship of mine that is troubled by past mistakes. I found comfort in knowing that there is hope that someone who understands grace would forgive these wrongs and move on. I also find hope in the fact that even if they don’t, God will never hold it against me. I rationalized that I was done progressing in this relationship because of these past mistakes, but God revealed otherwise by assuring me that this was only the beginning. I told myself that I cannot progress as a person because something was in the way. Now, instead of God shoving this wrong doing in my face like you’d shove a puppy’s face in it’s urine when you are potty training it, if you look for it, He is offering a different way.

For me, I don’t think God is offering a way around it, but rather a way through it. Again, God never holds these failures over me, He never looks down on me, He never lowers His brow in disappointment. I’d like to think that God offers encouragement every time we fall, like my parents did whenever I was learning to ride my bike without training wheels. They never looked down on me, they never condemned me or grounded me for scraping my knee on the concrete. They understood that I wasn’t a grown up, they understood that my feet could barely reach the pedals, and they understood that I had no concept of balance on two wheels. They never looked at me like I was a failure, there was almost a certain hope in their eyes, like a twinkle, that watching crash repeatedly was teaching me a lesson.

I think God looks at us with that same twinkle in His eye, that while we are screw ups, He still has hope in us. It is hard to imagine that the creator of the world has hope in us. While we drive ourselves into the ground with shortcomings and sins, God reveals to us His potential in us and through us. It isn’t until we are knocked out that we can really understand what it means to be awake. It isn’t until we have fallen 30,000 times that we can finally understand what it means to be standing firm. We cannot be strong without first being weak.

God will be with us the entire way to delight in us, to laugh at us when we get discouraged at the petty things we stress out about, like a loving parent holding back laughter as his kid throws his bike to the ground while he exclaims that he has given up trying. God knows we will be back on that bike soon, and so He smiles.

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