restless

Entering Rest (2): Scripted by Michael Nichols

For those of you who don't know, I'm a rotational musician/leader at church, and I've been spending the past seven years finding myself as a musician and as a writer/creative person in general. As a musician, one of the biggest things I've had to tackle is stage fright. If you'd known me before freshman year of high school, you'd know that performing arts wasn't exactly what I wanted to do.

Eventually, thanks to some epic people, I experienced a very personal paradigm shift due to she who would be my vocal coach "volunteering" me to audition for a competition. Until then, I'd always view performing arts as simply that. Unfortunately, I only was looking at the surface. Performance is a lot deeper than knowing the tools, techniques, and tricks of the trade -- at least it should be for anyone truly invested in it. From the audition I was selected. I didn't place in the end, but there was a journey that occurred -- really a nurturing -- that pulled out the innermost parts of me that were creating my fears.

Were my fears eliminated? No, but it was a start of something: realizing that performance isn't just about the script. Before that nurturing took place (to my voice and to my soul), I was a very scripted guy. I was into math, sciences. Arts and humanities -- ugh. Socially? Spiritually? Scripted, too. I followed the rules, tried to stay out of people's way, didn't question things I didn't like. I also played "Christian" and bought my own game, when in reality, I had no clue what the love of Christ really means.

"What if I say something wrong, and that cute girls in class just laughs or the other guys bully/shun me? What if I don't have perfect pitch and they boo me off the stage? What if I make a bad judgment call and God sends me to hell?" These were all questions I asked in the back of my mind but acknowledged as no more than mental hallucinations -- I didn't really accept that those were questions I had. How then could I know if there were answers, what they were, or that I was asking the wrong questions? Because in the end, really, I was asking the wrong questions.

I admit that sometimes I return to the script, and I still get stage fright, but now, I know better than to do that. Even though God wants us to follow Him, be holy, forsake sin, He's not looking for a script, and He doesn't kick people when they're down. He is a Father, so He disciplines His children, but He is not an abusive Father. He's not look for an excuse to keep us from crowding up Heaven. That's not who He is, and since He is what we really need as fallen humans, He doesn't give us a script.

What's your script?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_S9VvJM1PI

[LYRICS HERE]

Entering Rest (1): In Exchange by Michael Nichols

The included video is fan-made, from the film X-Men: First ClassI thought it to be particularly relevant. If you've watched the movie, you know the setup. If you haven't, watch it. It's worth renting/purchase in my own opinion. The scene I'm dropping you into shows you Erik (aka Magneto) drowning in an attempt to take revenge on the people who wronged him and his family as a child. Because he held onto their submarine with such determination to sink it, he couldn't hold himself above water. That's when Charles Xavier (aka Professor X) tries to reach out to him telepathically (oh, wait, this movie is about mutants, which I didn't mention). The phrase he used that always jumped out at me was, "Calm your mind."

Revenge meant so much to him that he was willing to die to administer it. To Charles, however, the life of this complete stranger meant more. Somewhere along the way today, I realized how well this scene represents this passage in the Bible. Matthew 16:24-27 has this to say to all of us: "Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.'"

Magneto was willing to die for a revenge that would never have brought him peace in his life. In relating that scene to these words of Jesus, I realize that there are things that without thinking I sometimes seek out in life with a level of precedence that may not bode very well for my soul. I don't say that we should never seek out things in life, but the real question is whether or not they can save us and whether or not they will bring us the truest definition of peace like what Jesus can bring when we follow Him with priority above all else. After all, just like with Erik, that moment of revenge (or whatever good or bad thing you desire) would have only been for a moment. He thought he was alone, and so do we many time, but we are not alone. Jesus goes before us.

Do you think you're alone? Have you been hunting for things that cannot truly bring you peace? What are you willing to risk/lose to acquire those things? What is it that makes it difficult to "calm your mind"?

(CLICK HERE to jump directly to the scene, or watch the full video below.)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpI6lHuzhwo&feature=youtu.be&t=1m31s]

Entering Rest (0): Issue ZERO by Michael Nichols

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Being the first issue of Entering Rest, I want start it well. I don't have much to say, and that's good. When you find yourself deprived of rest, the last thing you want to do is keep up the chatter and clamour... or is it really?

I've found that most times I've found myself unable to sleep or nap is this haunting feeling of unfinished business, some item I've left unattended, a task I've left undone. It seems almost appropriate that this year has basically been the year of re-s. I've been rebuilding relationships, reevaluating the way I'm going about my career, revisiting old memories that I've ignores, rethinking how my faith works, even remodeled two entire rooms (actually mostly done by our contractor). At the end of the day, though, doesn't something always feel unfinished? Doesn't it make your body cringe and twist?

While this feeling of restlessness can be powerful, I want you to think about this one thing: no matter where you are, you aren't where you were. Even if everything isn't how you want it to be, take comfort in the fact that you're getting there. Jesus is always at work changing something about you to be more like Him. Sometimes that means you work hard. Sometimes it means you don't get it all done. It can mean realizing some things are out of your control, or that you've done all you can, or that change doesn't all happen overnight, or that we are not gods and cannot expect everything to work out perfectly anyway.

Everyone wants something to change, and the best place to witness that change is at the center of the storm, the place of calm where God is. He is constant, and in His presence, you will witness revolution happen around you and in you. It may be slow or sudden, and it may clear or cloudy, but you won't miss it.