We tell something of our stories in the questions and comments we offer up in conversation. At the start of a new year they may be telling of how we envision 2011. Perhaps they are what kept us awake in 2010. Some are silly. Some are serious. Some are mine. Some are yours. Impartially, I offer you 11 of the most catchy, and a brief thought in response:
1. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?
Sometimes asking the right question is the answer. You can grow older or live longer in this next year. You decide.
2. Why do I feel so depressed after the holidays?
On the one hand, any moments of joy, of peace, of hope, of nostalgia for home and family, of friendship & warmth, of mystery & wonder, are the stirrings of something deep within each of us that beckon us to God and remind us of our longing for eternity. Thus, as the season passes and we retreat from those ruminations, it is most disheartening to those most powerfully engaged. Embrace the longing for what God has promised to soon do. Remember that our satisfaction will only be complete in the day of Christ Himself (Revelation 19).
In the meantime, take care never to miss the true meaning in our seasons of celebration. May we give relational gifts, and give them extravagantly, spend less in order to give more, and align our stories with His story. Then, our lives will be transformed, and one day our dreams made real. And when it seems impossible, remember that while the heavens could not contain Him, a young girl carried Him in her womb.
3. Why can’t I just win the lotto so that I can help the needy and give more to charity?
(Haven’t we all wondered.) I believe money gives you more of what you already are. If you don’t do those things now, you wouldn’t do them then. However, not speaking from the personal experience of actually having a lot of money, I would be willing to put this theory to the test.
4. Can Geico really save you 15% or more on car insurance?
(That was a joke.) You know this only because you may watch too much tv. Turn it off once in a while, clear the “clutter” and tune out the “noise” in your life. Create some sacred space, whether a place or a time. Enjoy some sacred simplicity. Let God renew, refresh, and restore you. (Acts 3:19-20)
5. Can you believe this September it will be 10 years since 9/11?
How should we remember its victims, and “re-member” ourselves as a country, one to another?
Have we as a self-professed “Christian” nation made the world any better since that day?
6. How do I as a High School girls-basketball coach say things in a way that won’t make them cry?
(This one is mine.) I’m a dad to four daughters and thought I would do fine with a team of 11. Wrong! The suggestion box is open.
7. Did Adam or Eve feel the sudden need to go to the bathroom when they were hiding from God in Genesis 3?
Kids hear the story in ways we never would, but probably should.
8. What possesses someone to walk up and shoot a public servant like Congresswoman Giffords and, indiscriminately, several others around her?
We are a deeply violent society—physically, emotionally, verbally, relationally, technologically, etc. Only in as much as each of us stops perpetrating these types of violence upon one another are we able to change a family, a neighborhood, a community, a culture, a nation. We collectively are what possesses someone to do this. We have created the patterns of which we are victims, and we should beware of our tendency to divert blame to an individual’s “addiction” or “disease” (Lamentations 5:21).
9. Should I feel guilty for not liking going to church?
Try this: stop going. Instead, start being. In other words, start churching in all the ways the Bible speaks of it—loving one another; listening to Christ’s Spirit in prayer with His people; sharing meals that remember the works of Jesus; and letting the good news of who you are and what you experience in Christ turn others’ lives upside down. Be part of a community of people that follows Jesus and serves one another, confesses sins to one another, is hospitable, doesn’t lie to, doesn’t grieve, helps each other through tough times, teaches one another, encourages one another, etc.
Attend Sunday religious services if you wish, just don’t mistake that for “church.” Engage the living Christ. He has been waiting for many of us for a long time (Revelation 3:20).
10. So, you really do like Outback giftcards?
Yes. (Okay, I know Outback is so 90s, and I will admit that this entry is self-serving, but I thought someone might be interested.)
11. If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?
Go for it. As I often remind my own children of our family’s condition, may you also be “rich in all the ways that matter” this year. Matthew 22:37-39 is a good bet.
God’s peace and riches to us all in 2011.