xmen

Renewed Life (1): It Starts With NO by Michael Nichols

A million things vie for our attention every day, things and people that want our soul in a way that only the Lord can truly handle it. A person can become overwhelmed. Personally, I find myself extremely susceptible to this for many different reasons, but one stands out more clearly than the rest: a tendency to experience anxiety attacks.

It's one of the least enjoyable experiences I've had -- the shallow-yet-quick heart rate, the racing thoughts, the fear, the silence. To be clear, I don't have them often, and I know that people have them with greater severity than I. When they do, though, I don't really know what's happened until I've come out of it for a while. One thing I do know is that many times, for me they are self-induced.

What that looks like is that some thought will be in my head, and that will connect to another thought. That's just my nature -- super-analytical [sometimes to the extent of self-micromanagement]. The ugliness appears when one of those thoughts that my mind is tearing through, like a child through wrapping paper on his birthday gifts, leads to another that is painful, like a bad memory from elementary school, or something from home that I try to forget, or maybe some inconsiderate and heartless thing someone did to me as an adult, or maybe it was a mistake that I made that I can't seem to let myself live down... All of that to say that a lot of it is self-induced for me.

To realize that a lot of the extra pain we feel is self-induced is to accept that fact that it is our responsibility to learn the solution. If Jesus died for me, lives again for me, is headed back here for me before or after I die, then that means that He loves me -- if you took conscious effort and energy and time to make something, you probably love it -- and puts a value on me and on all of us.

If you read the last issue of "Entering Rest" (see end of this article for a link), you'll remember that the things that vie for control of our soul will weigh us down, try to make us drown, and that only by letting go and calming our mind can we be saved from ourselves and from the water and gravity. Erik wanted revenge so badly that he was willing to die to get it, but maybe he really didn't believe he'd die, not until Xavier came along and convinced him otherwise, pulling him from his demise... but Charles didn't force Erik's hand to save him. Erik had to say NO in his own mind. Say NO to immediate gratification and thereby NO to death.

In the same way, when we feel like things are out of control (which is probably honestly most times) and we are being pulled in a million directions by people and things that have no interest in us besides what we can do with/for them, including all the sins with which we all struggle, we must say NO. I am a child of the KING. I am NOT perfect. I am NOT capable of playing god in any and all aspects of my life... BUT I AM loved. I AM saved by grace through faith. Jesus did pay for my crimes against Him, others, and myself. I am free. I AM NO LONGER a slave to sin. I AM NO LONGER bound to choices that other people have made. I AM NO LONGER measuring my value by things that are temporary but by things that last forever.

So NO, you may NOT have your way with me, world. You may NOT have your way with me, my own crippled mind. You may NOT dictate my every actions, old heart. NO.

That's where it starts. It's sure to get a lot more complicated for each person. Saying NO takes on different forms for each person and what they're going through, but with Jesus, we have the power to say NO.

“See, it is I who created the blacksmith who fans the coals into flame and forges a weapon fit for its work. And it is I who have created the destroyer to wreak havoc; no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord.

-- Isaiah the prophet

[CLICK HERE for the full passage.]

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]