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.)


Thoughts about Friendship, Distance, and Heaven by Michael Nichols

I don't usually rant when I blog. I usually don't get personal. I usually don't talk about myself. I usually talk about the metaphysical, the ideological, theological, philosophical, universal. I don't talk about me. Something is different, though. I have a lot on my mind. I need to get it out of my system. This is your final warning: turn back now if you don't want to hear it.

Okay. Ready? Here we go.

The world is dark. I know it, and so do most people, and to varying degrees. Some people feel more of the stress, others physical ailment, and others still loss of liberty. How do I know it? I know it in the form of loneliness. I'm not just talking about it in the sense of my being a single 21-year-old guy. I can deal with that. I've learned to deal with that. That is only one aspect of loneliness. As unpleasant as that may be, though, that should not be what I value most in life, among other things.

Everyone I knew when I graduated high school is either graduating college or close. I'm a sophomore in college. Took two years off for medical and psychological reasons. I had once planned to graduate this year with my bachelor's degree in music education. I had hoped to not be single, maybe even touring with a band by now, maybe even be a youth pastor. That was the plan. Now, everyone I knew or thought I knew is moving on with their lives. It's like elementary school all over again, which for me, consisted of ridicule and rejection. Now nobody is ridiculing or rejecting me. They're just gone.

Back then, I had something for which to fight. I had no other option other than to fade, and that wasn't in the docket. Eventually, I did find friends. They were few and far between, and some were even traitors. It wasn't fun, not even a little. Eventually, I stopped caring, and that was right around the time that I found friends that I trusted more than ever, that were truer than I had ever known. Now, I'm watching them slip away. It becomes harder and harder to communicate with them and not to miss them. It's nobody's fault. It just happens. People go in different directions, and that's okay. There's nothing wrong with that other than the inability of the spectator to accept the sometimes gradual yet sometimes violent change in pace. That's my problem, not theirs, but that doesn't make it hurt less.

I've always been a watchful person. I notice things, usually down to the detail of the rugs at work not lining up edge-to-edge. For me to watch the fade is like that, noticing everything that could have led up to the fade, everything that could result from it, everything I would miss were the fade to set in like a permanent loss of feeling... yet I still know that it's not up to me and that I cannot do anything to stop it if it is determined to happen. I'm not just gonna hold with a death grip to those who matter most so that they can drag me around as deadweight, but I can never forget, and I cannot forget the fade. It really helps my desire to make new friends wane, but it shouldn't.

What if knowledge of inevitable loss was not meant to deter me from crossing new horizons, but rather to give me a reason to do so while there is still time? Are we fading here? Yes, and how. Is there anything permanent in this world? Not, not in this world. Heaven, Christ, God, salvation, love - these are called "myths" today, regarded as cautionary tales to tell our children at night in an effort to teach them submission to the social rules, keep us enslaved... but then everyone is a slave to something, even if we don't call it that. Slavery is the ability to use something, be it given or taken, usually assumed to be the latter due to social connotation...

So what about this Heaven "myth"? What if it is just that? Well, then life is completely pointless and bleak in that it began for nothing and it will end for nothing. For all of our sakes, we'd better hope that it is not. We lose so many things to the false hope and temporary pleasure that this world's mind offers by means of violent, chaotic, obsessive attachment because we fear a death that we were never made to handle or experience. We were never meant to hurt people by taking away that which they cherish. We were never meant to drift apart. Things weren't meant to be the way they are; otherwise, death wouldn't come to stop us in our tracks. We weren't meant to feel this way. I wasn't meant to feel this way, and no, it is not okay.

This place, this world, this life, will never be enough for me. I will always lose, I will always miss, I will always fail something. I'm not being fatalistic about it, over humble, or self-loathing, so do not misconstrue my words. This life will never be good enough for me, nor vice versa, but thank God that it is not this life in which I place my hope. I can't say that the kingdom of God is always on my mind, but I'm thankful that Jesus always somehow brings me back to a place of remembrance of the world to come.

Haste the dawn.