Stop trying to be smart. Be curious. Yes, you read half [or 17 pages] of that one Kierkegaard book that one time. Yes, you [just barely] graduated from college. Yes, you’re pursuing [or crawling toward] your Master’s degree. Yes, you’ve doled out some [terrible] advice to a few prepubescent boys about their girl problems. But none of this makes you smart. In fact, the “smartest” people in the world are the ones who know just how little they know and how much more there is to know. It’s this acute awareness that allows them to contribute much to our world. You think you’re smart and that you should write a book or something to let everyone know just how smart you are. But when you sit down to write, you find that you really don’t have much [or anything] to say at all. Don’t be discouraged. You’re not alone. Most of us don’t have much to say. And it’s in accepting this truth that you will be inspired, challenged, and motivated to learn more. Something amazing, almost mystical, will happen when you take the posture of a learner. You will begin to embrace the joys of curiosity. The blinders will come off and you will begin to see the world for what it is – interesting, wondrous, maybe even a little magical. You will find God in new, life-giving ways as you ask questions and open yourself up to all sorts of answers. The Bible will speak to you in a new voice. Incredibly, you will find that many of those annoying axioms your mom used to drill into your head as a child are actually pretty accurate. The people and places you categorized neatly into your little boxes of opinions will be unleashed and they will teach you what it means to be human, fully and humbly. Speak less. Listen more. In the words of Dallas Willard, “Practice the discipline of not having the last word.” Master the art of asking questions and you’ll discover answers bursting forth all around you, with life and grace.
Keep dreaming. No, really. KEEP DREAMING. First, stop believing the lie that cynicism is an undeniable symptom of old age. Some of the most amazing dreamers I’ve ever met are men and women in their retirement years. And some of the greatest cynics in our world are privileged, bright, well-educated twenty-something’s with their entire lives ahead of them. Cynics are simply dreamers who stopped dreaming and think everyone else should stop dreaming right along with them. Cynics are trying to sell you the lie that things will always be as they currently are, that change isn’t possible, and that love finds its end in the grave if it ever really existed at all. But none of that is true. Things will not always be as they currently are. Restoration is coming. And there are those who are giving their lives to the work of restoration here and now, believing that it will all culminate in a glorious someday, when all is healed and made well. Change is very much possible. We’ve all seen it – both in the world and in ourselves. Yes, human history and our personal histories are marred with the blemishes of evil and injustice. But woven into even the darkest portions of the fabric of our histories are the threads of heroism, grace, sacrifice, and love. Most importantly, love is indeed real and it will not find its end in the grave. Jay, in your early 30’s you will lose your father. And in losing a father you did not know, you will discover a love for him that always existed somewhere deep in the recesses of your heart. Beautifully, his story will reveal to you that love does not end in the grave but in fact finds its truest form in the celebration of Resurrection, the rescue offered us by the One who’s name is Love. So let the cynics make their noise. You just keep your head in the clouds and keep on dreaming. Continue to believe in the possibilities all around you. Give your heart recklessly to love. Run hard after the things of God.
You’re not here just to change the world; you’re here to let the world change you. You think you’re here because you have so much to offer the world. And you do. You think you’re here to change the world for the better. And you are. But you’re also here to let the world change you. Like I said earlier, our world is a big and wondrous place, full of interesting and amazing people. Sure there’s a ton wrong with it and some people lose their humanity to the point of harming others. But don’t forget that there’s also so much beauty and goodness here. Experiencing it with an open heart and open hands will leave you changed for the better. So let God do that work in you through his world. Pray that God would give you eyes to see and ears to hear his grace incarnate in the people, places, and things surrounding you. Pursue childlike faith, believing that there is good even in the bad. Stop keeping the world at arm’s length. Let it in. Don’t be afraid that it will contaminate or ruin you. Keep God at the center of your soul, and then let the world come in close to you and watch as God redeems even the worst of it to shape you into the person he’s always intended for you to be. Get rid of that NOTW jacket in your closet. You are not of hell. You are of heaven. And heaven isn’t a distant place on the other side of the galaxy. It’s God’s reality, where all things are recreated and renewed. So work toward that. Join God in recreating and renewing this world, here and now. And let him recreate and renew you through it.