Month: March 2018

I’ll Take a Helping of Bravery Please, Leave the Doubt

 

Although I have a ton of favorite Christian artists because they are all so amazing, Casting Crowns has a special place in my heart. I remember receiving their first album Casting Crowns for Christmas, back when it was such a novelty to get a CD. That thing received a lot of play on my portable CD player and my regular CD player! Kids today will never know the complete and utter feeling of despair that arises when a scratch appears on your CD…okay, I may be exaggerating…a little. My dad and I saw them in concert 3 times, which was without a doubt an awesome experience.

Their song What if I Gave Everything strikes a familiar chord with many Christians I imagine. The first verse pretty much sums up what we all want to accomplish “All my life I longed to be a hero” then “Be a man you would write about”. We could be sitting on our couch, computer, at work, even in Church, when we get this overwhelming desire to run out and change the world. We see poverty, murder, people blaspheming God, our faith, etc. and we’re hit with an epiphany to change it. Suddenly we envision ourselves fighting injustice, clothing all the homeless, saving little babies in foreign countries, rebuilding homes. Then we imagine, “oh how they’ll talk” and you dream about what your face will look like on the Time Magazine Person of the Year cover. You’ll do the rounds of all the morning and late night talk shows, be the featured guest at all the parties and be recognized as the person who saved the world.

So Why am I Still Standing Here? Then reality strikes and we finish doing whatever we were up to prior to the epiphany. We realize that we were simply daydreaming and the hope of trying becomes overwhelmingly difficult. We should never want to change the world because we think it will bring us some kind of exposure. Doing the right thing makes us feel good and that is completely okay but don’t do it simply to relish the praise of others.

Then we run into the other issue of feeling like we are somehow inadequate to do the right thing. That we can’t do it because we are not good enough, which couldn’t be further from the truth. If we let our Faith lead us then we are going to be able to accomplish what we hope to. Jesus paid the ultimate price for our salvation, suffering and death upon the cross. If we focus on the Stations of the Cross and watch Jesus’ journey to attain our salvation, then how can we not walk in faith?

My favorite verse of the whole song is – so afraid what it might cost to follow You, I’d walk by faith if I could get these feet to move. Being Christian can cause us a lot of problems within this world, chastisement, lost friendship, persecution, and even death. Maximilian Kolbe, one of the heroes of our faith knew all too well what it was like to claim and stick to being Christian. It brought death and one that he was more than willing to pay because he walked with faith even unto death. One of his most prolific quotes that can guide us:

No one in the world can change Truth. What we can do and should do is to seek truth and to serve it when we have found it. The real conflict is the inner conflict. Beyond armies of occupation and the hecatombs [e.g. the sacrifice of many victims] of extermination camps, there are two irreconcilable enemies in the depth of every soul: good and evil, sin and love. And what use are the victories on the battlefield if we ourselves are defeated in our innermost personal selves?

If we fully believe in our faith, if we fully believe in Jesus Christ, if we fully believe in God, then we can walk by faith. We can change the world, maybe not in a dramatic way, or even in a way that others around the world will notice. That is not what it’s about because ultimately it is a ripple effect. You do one good act, then gradually others become inspired to do good acts.

So I leave you with one of the final verses:
What if I gave everything?
What if I stopped holding back from You?
Starting now, I’m stepping out onto deeper waters
What if I gave everything?
What if I stopped holding back from You?
Starting now, I’m stepping out onto deeper waters
I want to see some mountains move

Advertisements

Share Your Story

Saint Paul, out of all the Apostles, continues to be my favorite. There are quite a few reasons as to why but the most prominent is how I can relate to him. We all have stories and scars to share, some a bit more deep than others. It is Paul’s conversion that resonates so deeply to what we all can attain. We’re not perfect, far from it truthfully, but we should always strive to do better. It doesn’t mean that one day everything will be perfect but you at least know you’re doing the right thing.

Paul was not wholesome in his beginning days, to put it bluntly he was a killer of Christians. He belonged to the sect of Jews known as the Pharisees, a rather strict group who held firmly to the traditional Jewish beliefs. After what can be described as a slap-in-the-face awakening, Paul experienced a powerful vision from Jesus Christ. After this vision he did a complete 180 and actively worked to bring Christ’s message to people.

Christianity is not easy, as Paul found out; he was attacked, jailed, harassed and eventually martyred all because he was Christian. Christ told us Himself that because we don’t belong to this world we will always face a struggle. We often see this when we face our own trials that seem to come at a never ending pace. We must always hold on to the hope that Jesus gave us when He died on the Cross. That eternal salvation would be ours if we stayed the course and overcame the temptations.

A good friend of mine told me that life is a participation sport, you can either play or sit on the sidelines. The same can be said about Christianity, we either watch or we participate. We have to actively be seeking to better ourselves, to reach out to others and to also spread Christ’s message to the rest of the world. We have to actively be living our faith and not simply talking about it. You can say you’re a Christian but you have to show that you are. This is done by being kind to others, not having an ego, clothing the naked, feeding the poor, etc.

We should never be ashamed to share our past because it could help others who are struggling with the same issues as you. At first it can be daunting, I know it was for me. When we look at what we’ve been through, whether from our choices or life circumstances, we can use it to make us stronger. Saint Paul didn’t let his past stop him but rather he used it to propel him forward. He was on fire with the Holy Spirit but he wasn’t born that way. None of us (with the exception of Jesus and the Blessed Mother of course) are born perfect. Neither will any of us truly attain perfection until we make it to Heaven.

Many of the Saints struggled at first with their past, the chains that bound them. Saint Augustine, Saint Francis, Saint Mary of Egypt, etc. As Saint Augustine so eloquently stated “There is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future.” We are in a very special time right now, Lent. This is a time of deep reflection and repentance. Look at where you’ve been and realize how far you’ve come, you are a child of God. So share your story, let your voice be heard and become a participator of Christianity. Saint Paul – Pray for Us.

Dear Jesus,
Your words speak so profoundly to me,
Help me to truly let them play in my life.
Help me to share the story of my beginning,
To become like Saint Paul and spread your message.
You bestow upon me special graces,
Help me to open my eyes and heart to attain them
Amen