Thursday, October 1, 2009

Joy in the small(er) things

Hello all. I have a been a bit out of touch with the blog world, keep putting it off, but I just wanted to check in and share a few insights from my week.

It has been an overwhelming week. For one, because of a lot of things I have to get done. Also, I have been weighed down by hearing of so many other tragic stories in others' lives. So many little things that I would hear and shrug off, but now contribute to this weight of how much "life sucks." (I know I'm sounding pessimistic... bear with me. I definitely wouldn't call myself an optimist right now, though). I feel like the typical Christian response to all the "crap" in our lives is "I am so glad God is bigger than all this, otherwise I would get overwhelmed." But since "God is good," we should always feel happy and not worry. This response just doesn't sit well with me, because I feel like it causes us to gloss over issues rather than dig them out and work through the grief, the pain, the sorrow.

Yes God is "bigger" than all this... but he doesn't work by just letting us ignore the pain. I think that the greatest joys in life are to be had out of working through the hard things, finding meaning in sorrow. Somehow, for me, this manifests itself in small ways in my life. In deep, meaningful conversations where I can share my heart with somehow who also shares theirs with mine. When I can share my experiences with others, and it helps them work through something in their life. When I can call my brother in the morning and hear from him how he is doing. When I stop to enjoy a view. When I listen to a song that resonates with me. This is how I experience God, I think. Increasingly, I am finding that the typical ways that I am told to experience God aren't working for me anymore - in worship services, from sermons, in personal Bible studies... these are valuable things, to be sure. But I am experiencing God in everyday life. I seek to understand the Kingdom, to understand the presence of God as something that is wholly and purely with us, that saturates everyday living. I see him in the little things.

I am fascinated by the idea of the Incarnation, because it resonates this idea. The "Big" God of the universe manifested himself in a small and finite way. The Grand became Debased, the Transcendent became Realized. The whole point of dealing with this "crap" in our lives is not that the BIG God of the Universe pulls us out of it and takes us away from the pain... the point is that out of LOVE, the manifested Messiah, the Incarnate has chosen to stay with us in our times of trial and pain, and bear our burdens with us.

We don't serve a God who is the puppet master of the universe. We serve a God who sits next to us in the mud and mire of life, and whispers in our ears: "I love you." The way he did this was through Christ, through the Incarnation, through the death and resurrection... and the Spirit of this Christ-love-restoration lives on in Resurrection in our midst.

I can't get past what a joy it was to just chat with my brother Jacob on the phone this morning. It literally pushed me through all of the things I had to do today for school and the RA job. In this I rest... in the providence of a simple interaction. I feel Christ's Spirit whispering in my ear that he is with me in this. He is pushing through this right alongside me. That's what he did on the cross... and that's what he is constantly doing. Continuing this mission of restoration. There is hope. It is a hope that our world of brokenness desperately needs. Today in CVS, I overheard the cashier respond to a customer who was explaining some measures he took to prevent thievery: "I guess you have to in this world!"

Our world needs hope... a hope that doesn't condemn, but a hope that says: "I love you. I am with you. Even to the end."

-Rob (Jacob's brother)


Anonymous said...

HI Guys,
Just wanted to let you know that we are still following the blog and appreciate it SO MUCH. We spread the word as often as we can and it is fun to see how the old "six degrees of separation" exists. Many people have heard about the situation, or know someone connected to it. Not only has it been an honor to relay how faithful you all have been during this ordeal, but to add that this has been your character for years.
Tom, I can totally relate how frustated I become when "the plan" gets changed or does not go the way I planned! It is a struggle to be flexible and humble at times. You are much better at it than I.
Thinking and praying for you often, Guy B

Anonymous said...

I wanted to let you know that your words today have touched me very deeply. As someone who considers herself very spiritual - but not necessarily religious - your words have hit home. I find God in everyone - in the little things that are so often overlooked by so many as they search for something bigger and grander. It is the simplest of things - a word from a brother, a smile from a stranger - the love we offer we no strings attached.
Thank you for sharing your experiences... the ripples they create travel very far.
Much love to you and the family, and as always prayers for Jake continue daily.

Anonymous said...

I often find myself in a similar place of feeling burdened and down about all the horrible things that happen in people's lives. Last week the thought came to me that only God can bring order out of such chaos in this world. He will bring order and glory - centered all around Christ. For everything was made through Him and for Him. This brought me great comfort and strength to handle the heaviness...Praying for Jake.

Sister in the Lord

Anonymous said...


So true. Your words, "We don't serve a God who is the puppet master of the universe. We serve a God who sits next to us in the mud and mire of life, and whispers in our ears: 'I love you.' The way he did this was through Christ..." are so important for so many reasons. We can get so confused when we look for the divine puppet master-god, and of course don't really find him, that we miss the Christ among us in the mire. Thank you for your insights. So many of us are praying for you and your family and particularly your brother.

Rene Schlaepfer

Andy Robinson said...

Tom, Debbie, Robbie, Jake and Jensen,
You all continue to be in our prayers. We were excited to hear that Jake can now start working on his HS classes to prepare for graduation. With everything that has transpired it could be easy to say how "lucky" Jake is, but we know that God is in total control from start to finish and that we only have to look to Him for our sustaining strength. Robbie, as his big brother I am sure that the miles of separation seem great, but the closeness that you two share can make that distance seem insignificant. Tom and Debbie, we are so proud to call you brother and sister in Christ and to be able to uphold you both daily as you face this seemingly impossible challenge. May God continue to bless your family and allow you to be beacons of hope to others who are searching and looking for answers. You know the answer is Jesus Christ and Him alone. God bless you all,
Andy and Elda Robinson
Vallejo, CA