Mitchell Richards [Words]

Month: September, 2011

Frankenjesus: Creating Your Very Own Monster

Note: Technically the monster from the story of Frankenstein is not named Frankenstein, that is the name of the doctor who created him, but for the sake of this post and confusion, I will refer to the monster as Frankenstein

From what I gather of the story of Frankenstein, this well intentioned doctor wants to create life. He never intended to build a monster, he just wanted to play God a little bit and create a new human. So, he spliced together some cadaver parts, sewed on some limbs and brains and all of that good stuff, and with a bolt of lightening he creates life. But it doesn’t really turn out well. I’m sure you can use your imagination and picture that crazy, stiff legged, bolt-in-necked, 8-foot-tall giant green guy terrorizing your local city and causing chaos. It wasn’t exactly what the doc had in mind, was it?

Now, I’m guilty of being like the doctor just a little bit too in the way I believe in God. I take parts than I like, form them together and make my own God I can believe in. I have no ill-intentions when I do this either, it just seems like the right thing to do. For example, I don’t really like conflict and having to confess my crap to the people around me, so I usually don’t have super close friends that will hold me accountable for the things I do wrong, even though that’s what I think God wants me to do. I really like those parts in the Bible where Jesus and later the disciples talk about grace and how my sins are forgiven, so I tend to take advantage of that grace and still do as I please, even though usually right after they talk about how awesome grace is, they suggest we don’t take advantage of it.

Sew an arm on here, place a bolt there to hold up that weak neck.

I love the idea of loving my enemies, but I think Jesus was winking when he said that.

A bolt of lightening later and I’ve created a monster. It was never my intention to do so though, I just wanted to love God. Frankenjesus is terrorizing my life and I place blame on Him because I feel like it should be all right you know, like I’m following Him and listening to Him and all that, but I’m really following something I created myself. And even though I created something with some of the same parts as God, it is not God because I added a few things that aren’t Him. They both might have a face, but Frankenjesus’ face is green and has scabs all over it. They both might walk around and hang out with children and homeless people, but Frankenjesus’ legs are uneven and he doesn’t reach out his hand all the way when he comes across a person in need.

God is God, and every attempt we have at creating a God that we like is essentially us worshipping a golden calf or a bronze statue of a pilgrim or something.

I hope that together, we can find the true God of the Bible, the God that led s through the desert, the God who gave his son to die for you and me. I hope that when we find Him, we won’t want to change a single thing about Him. This is difficult for me because to be honest, there are parts of the Bible that just don’t mesh well with my life. There are things that God and Jesus say that I tend to overlook because “He wasn’t saying that to me.”

I hope you don’t have this same problem as I do, because it is complete BS.

I hope together, as a unified people, find God. The one, whole, free moving and flowing God and the grace that comes with Him. I hope we can put to rest the Frankenjesus that we make and quit trying to play God by building our own version of gods. God is very much alive and moving, my Frankenjesus is very stiff-legged, cold, and sort of smelly. God is not a zombie. Trust me, the zombie Frankenjesus you create may be easier to follow and to get along with, but it will not be as easy as the grace the true God offers. Frankenjesus will do more harm to you and others than it will do good. I think a lot of terrible things have been done in the name of God, but really have been done by man’s version of Him. I’m guilty of it, I’m sure, but it must stop, we must take the whole message of the gospel and not just our highlighted limbs we have sewn together.

Happy Halloween.

Breathing Time Machine

It’s funny how conversations often fall back on all the things you could and should have been, and not so often on the things you are to become. By that, I mean I’ve been having a lot of conversations lately about myself and all the things I wanted to do when I was younger and how more often than to I have not accomplished those things. Don’t get me wrong though, sometimes when you grow older you realize you don’t want the things you thought you did. And, I’m not talking about dumb things like dreaming of being a gajillionaire by 23 or being a rock ‘n roll icon, I’m talking about the normal things, finishing college and having a family, all that boring stuff you know…

If I could go back in time 10 years and chat with my 16 year old self, I don’t really know what I would say to him…

“Hey kid, get ready for a lot of things left unfinished. Get ready to have your heart broken a few times. Get ready to chase God, because you feel close to him now, but just wait. Get ready to continue to struggle with the exact same crap you’ve always struggled with. Get ready to be be doing the same kind of jobs you are doing now, except hoping it will all end soon. Forget about the youth ministry thing, take writing classes and study grammar a little better, it’ll all pay off in the end.

Play a little more and love a little harder. Don’t look so bored all the time. Drive 12 hours in every direction.”

It would be a little too much for my 16 year old self to handle, and I probably wouldn’t listen to him because in all honesty, these are the kinds of things everyone tells you when you are young.

It is a weird place to be when you are ashamed of what you are but excited to become what you know you could become, yet not able to quite get there because you are lazy.

No one is going to provide a great job fr me unless I find it myself. No one is gonna drop down a bunch of thousand dollars to pay to go back to college. No one is going to fund my dream vacation. No one if going to get me funds to up and move away.

I always thought getting away from wherever you came from meant success. I still live in the town I grew up in, I still eat at the same restaurants I’ve always eaten at. Heck, I coach soccer on the same exact fields that I used to practice soccer on.

But you see…

It’s all what you do with it…

I guess…

The me I am now isn’t the me I had planned out 10 years ago, which makes me scared for the me 10 years from now. I realized the other day that I don’t really have any goals anymore. When I was 16 my goals were to go to college, become a youth minister, maybe settle down with a tall cute girl, and see what happens. Now, at 26, I don’t really know what I want.

I dropped out of school.
Decided not to be a youth minister.
Single.
Still waiting to see what will happen, so I’ve got that going for me.

But again, I don’t think I really want those things anymore. Sure, maybe I’d like to get back into school, but I don’t want to be a youth pastor anymore, and I don’t really know if I want a wife and kids, at least not yet, I know I’m not ready for it.

I’ve fond life to be a crazy journey, and it’s been the small things that have got me to where I like to be. I’ve noticed that the most beautiful moments in life involve chance, or maybe I’d call it grace, and random things. Relationships die out, bridges get burned, and as unfortunate as that is, I seem to find myself being constantly surrounded by great people who love me.

I always picture Jesus as some serious guy who never smiles, but when I get to heaven and it’s time for that whole “well done, my good and faithful servant” chat I’ve heard about, if I make the cut, I want Jesus to give me a nuggee or something. I want to have beers with him and see if I can talk him into telling a that’s what she said joke. I want this, because I want to know that he understands my frustrations with him, that he understands that I have no idea what it means to be a human, that I need help on finding my purpose here.

I don’t think God runs from us. Even in my most desperate of times when I’ve felt God wasn’t around, I don’t think that’s how he plays. Life isn’t a hide-and-go-seek-and-seek-by-reading-your-Bible game.

God is totally weird because, when you’re like me, even when you choose the wrong path he is still there. And even when you choose wrong right after that, he is still there. And wrong turn after that, he is still there. And even when you can’t take it anymore, when you are so fed up with who you are versus who God wants you to be that you write a confusing blog, he is still there. Weird right?

And the whole time he is there, I envision him just shaking his head like someone who is waiting in the cold on their dog to go pee. “Just pee already.” God would say. “Get it out of your system for Christ’s sake.” Then he would smile probably.

The tricky part to life is matching up your plans with God’s plans. I think 16 year old me had no idea what life was actually like and made some plans for myself to avoid ever finding out. I think God thought my plans were really cute and put them on the floor of his bird cage for the birds to poop on. Then, for the next ten years or so, I chased my tail, destroyed my plans, and have spent a big chunk of my time trying to clean up that mess, but I think God is nodding now, scratching his chin, muttering under his breath that he has me right where he wants me. But not in a creepy, serial killer kind of way, more like a person who offers up a free vacation to someone who keeps making excuses not to go kind of way.

Even though I don’t feel it, and even though most days I certainly don’t know it, I am where I am supposed to be. This 26 year old version of me is the only me I was ever supposed to be, and even though I may not be happy with that, God is happy with it because he has that weird ability to know where I am headed. I just have to surrender my plans and get on his program. I just need to see that same potential in myself as he sees in me.

Real funny Jesus.

[Don’t forget, you can download a free ebook of my book Definitive Blurs, by clicking this link]