Saturday, July 26, 2008

Good vs. Evil

**If you haven't seen The Dark Knight, there may be some spoilers here. Read at your own risk.

I've been considering the age old war of good versus evil, particularly because I finally got to see the movie The Dark Knight last night. The movie lays it out very simply for us: Batman is good and the Joker is evil. Well, it isn't quite that simple, because there are moments in which we feel sorry for the child the Joker once was (until we realize his story keeps changing). There are also moments in which we wonder whether the darkness has crept into Batman a little bit, too. And what about Harvey Dent? Dent's accident in which the gasoline covering half of his body (and face) catches on fire leaves him maimed. He is pushed over the edge into madness by the Joker and becomes the vengeful "villain" Two-Face. Perhaps Dent is a symbol of the capacity for good and evil that lives in each of us. It gave me a lot of food for thought, and I could not sleep for hours last night.

There have been many times in my life in which I've said that I don't believe in Hell. And I really don't know if I do. I tend to think that Hell is here on Earth because we each become the recipients of the free will of others. A young man chooses to stick a gun to your face and take your wallet? His free will was just exercised. Like it or not, you gave him your wallet of your own free will. You could have chosen to run, fight, or die by his hands, but you gave him your wallet.

There are times when others use their free will to take advantage of our good nature. You see a woman walking in the heat of the day, struggling with her grocery bags. You give her a ride. She lifts your wallet from your purse on the way out the door. You could have chosen not to give her a ride, and in fact, you never do give another person a ride. Her free will and yours intertwine.

We hear many versions of what Hell is like, just as we hear many versions of what Heaven is like. I'm not willing to test the system, so to speak, and find out if there is a Hell. I tend to think that if there is, it is more "hellish," if you will, because of an absence of God, an absence of hope, and an absence of good. Imagine a reality in which there is never any hope of things getting better, never any promise of God healing us or lifting us up from our burdens. That would be Hell.

We're told that in the end, the ultimate battle of good versus evil will be waged. Unlike Batman, though, God is infallible and perfect. He will not make mistakes or doubt Himself. Satan's voice will finally be silenced in us, and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. That will be the perfect ending, don't you think? No cliffhangers. No villains who won't die.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Missing Church

Today is the first time since I returned to church that I have been unable to go. I was sick yesterday - sick enough to go to the ER - and today I am reeling with a Chiari headache. Either the medication caused a rebound effect or my hours of lying on the hard gurney with no pillow put too much pressure on the base of my skull. Either way - Ow!

I am very much missing my friends in Celebrate Recovery. They are the ones who keep me going. They are the ones with whom I share the deepest secrets of my soul.

I am missing the music of my church right now. About now, they are getting ready to head into the second song of the morning, their beautiful voices lifted high to God.

Next week, God willing, I will be back. It hurts me to miss church. It frightens me how quickly one missed service could become two or three or more, extending into a very long absence, as I had before. I am not willing to let that happen.

For now, I will rest and pray for God's healing hands on me. Next week, I will rejoice even more to be in the presence of my church and the blessings of their fellowship.

Peace - D

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Dreams

I've been having a lot of dreams lately, some of which I remember, some of which are just receding images in the morning.

Last night I dreamt I was talking to a young man who was in the arts. I had been listening to someone else refer to herself with the statement, "I am the Arts!" I thought, I wonder if I'm brave enough to refer to myself that way. Am I steadfast enough in my talent and productivity that I can reliably refer to myself as though I represent the realm of Art? While I was mulling this over, this young man, seated on the grassy expanse of a park with me, expressed the same doubts about himself. Suddenly I was filled with love and acceptance for myself.

I smiled at him and said, "You know? I have spent my entire life trying to come back around to where I started in childhood! I was a creative sort then, and I spent too many years trying to be something more productive, more pleasing to the world. And here I am, right back where I started, and I'm so happy!"

He smiled and nodded. I had encouraged him to stay the course, to not be led away by the will of others. Not only with his talents but with anything about his life. God creates us as individuals, and we are expected to use our talents in some way - each talent - to give back to the world. If you are a painter, be the best doggone painter you can be! Glorify the God who gave you that talent. If you need a "regular job" to pay your bills, so be it, but don't give up on yourself. Where would I be if I had listened to my heart and stuck with writing when I was 18 years old instead of believing what other people told me - "Get a job! Life is hard! You can't make a living writing!" I used to think it was my mother's voice I was hearing in my head, but now I realize that it was so many voices. So many detractors.

I realize now that when people are unhappy with their lot in life (or their perceived lot in life), they want to make sure to share that unhappiness around. They want to make sure to put each person they encounter in their place. What would the world be like if we all just relaxed and used the talents we've been given? Conversely, what would the world be life if Georgia O'Keefe had never taken up the paintbrush for fear that she would be somehow shirking her responsibilities? What would the world be like if some of our greatest writers had thought they were wasting daylight by taking pen to paper or hands to typewriter?

The world would be dull, my friends. It would be incredibly bleak and without beauty. It would be like the stark Gotham City in Batman - sooty and gray, gritty. The world needs art. It needs paintings and photographs and literature and poetry and song. Without these things, our world might more resemble Hell than Heaven. And isn't it our calling to bring about the Kingdom of God in the world? I would like to think that the Kingdom of God is filled with self-expression, praise in every form, and beauty. Great beauty.

I hope that if you are reading this and wondering where your life is taking you that you will stop and ask what you can give to the world to make it more beautiful? What can you do to bring about the Kingdom of God on earth?

I am the Arts. I am the written word. I am expression.

Peace - D

Sunday, July 6, 2008

My Poem to God

This is one of my own, and it's called, Perfect Me, O Lord.
Please do not re-use without providing my name as the poet and/or providing a link to this site. Thank you - D

Perfect Me, O Lord
by Doris E. Pavlichek (c)2008

Free me, O Lord,
from doubts, fears, and worries,
from daily stresses, scurrying
toward my inevitable end.

Save me, O Lord,
from the world and its pull,
from the drawing away from Your will
toward a life of sin.

Use me, O Lord,
for Your purposes, Your will,
Your glory. I will be still
and recognize You within.

Perfect me, O Lord,
and give me strength and hope,
confidence in Your presence, so
I may cast my eyes on Heaven.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Getting Still


Job 37:14 "Hearken unto this, O Job: stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God."

It's funny how God works.

I used to be one of those people who ran, ran, ran all the time. It was as if I was in a race with myself and the rest of the world, and I had boundless energy. In my smugness, I thought I would always go at that pace, passing up people who were less driven. That hasn't worked out so well for me. When God wants to talk to us, the first thing He does is get us to be still.

Through illness and life changes, He has slowed me down tremendously. And even during my years of differing beliefs, I told my husband, "If I didn't know better, I'd think God was trying to test me or tell me something." Well, as it turns out, I didn't know better. He was trying to get my attention. And here I am, Lord.

I have had to get very still. I am often fatigued and have to lie down. I am often in pain and have to move slowly. And I am often alone. It is in these times that I pray. I get closer to God and listen to Him. It is only in this stillness that we can hear Him over the drone of our own thoughts and judgments.

This should come as no surprise. Even the winds would be still for Jesus. Consider the passage in Mark 4, "He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, 'Quiet! Be still!' Then the wind died down and it was completely calm."

Couldn't he just as easily get me still? He could, but He chose to nudge me toward stillness, therefore not taking away my free will. I could still wrestle against being still, forcing myself to press onward in a harried life, using the "power of positive thinking" to overcome what God is trying to do. Or I could give in. In Psalm 37:7, the author said, "Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act." This is where I am right now. I'm am waiting for Him.

In Isaiah 40:31, a promise is made that "....those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary." I'm counting on that promise. I'm believing that God is a healing God and will someday see fit to let me freely move about again, perhaps once He is done, in His infinite wisdom and perfect timing, with speaking to me. Like Job, I have had trials (though not nearly as severe). In such situations, we have two choices: turn to God or turn away from God. Turning away didn't do me any good. In fact things got much, much worse. So here I am, Lord.

And when life is very hard and people don't understand my beliefs to which I've returned after all these years, I count on Exodus 14:14, "The Lord will fight for you; you have only to be still."

Peace - D