The Call Collective

Exploring God's presence and call within the culture.

Tag: Fear

Maintaining Inner Peace

A couple times a week I run along a small bay that neighbors my house. In the early mornings, if I’m able to get out at that time, I’m always struck by the stillness of that stretch of mirrored silver. The bay’s anchored tranquility brings me a sense of peace if I only take a moment or two to look at it. It’s an image that in some way soothes my soul.

In Father Jacques Philippe modest little book, Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart, he calls to mind this metaphor for the soul:

“Consider the surface of a lake, above which the sun is shining. If the surface of the lake is peaceful and tranquil, the sun will be reflected in this lake; and the more peaceful the lake, the more perfectly will it be reflected. If, on the contrary, the surface of the lake is agitated, undulating, then the image of the sun can not be reflected in it.”

It’s a deeply simple, yet profound stroke of insight—our souls can only reflect God’s love and grace if they are calm and delicately moored. The peace promised to us by Jesus Christ two millennia ago only flowers in the soil of a serene heart.

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Curing Spiritual Procrastination

An old man rests in bed, coughing, spitting up blood. His children and grandchildren are huddled around him. In the midst of the group, another man stands donned in a Roman collar. The priest urges the old man to make amends with God—to repent for his sins, receive the Eucharist, and make peace with his maker. After a life lived according to his own will—a life that kept God tangentially in the background, if present at all—the old man realizes he won’t ever get up again from his bed. And so, just as he intended in his youth, he opens himself up to God’s love, asks for pardon for his past life of sinfulness, and waits peacefully to be ushered into God’s Kingdom.

This is commonly referred to as a “deathbed conversion”—a situation where someone has put God off for his entire life only to convert right before the lights turn off, the signing of a last-minute eternal insurance policy. That’s not to say there isn’t great joy in heaven over anyone who turns his or her life over to God—even at the last hour—allowing God’s mercy to sweep him or her into eternity with the rest of the blessed. Like with the Good Thief, we can—and must—rejoice in this soul’s turning to God in this life. However, God obviously doesn’t prefer that we live a life of sin and separation from him, harboring only the vague intent of reconciling our souls with him at the very last minute, when it’s convenient, or, just in case.

Such a way of life is often indicative of a muddied understanding of God and his love for us. Not only are we, in effect, telling God we don’t love him now (and might love him eventually on some undefined day in the far-off future), but we are depriving ourselves of a life of grace—one that offers joy, peace and meaning, even through suffering and difficulty. Continue reading

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The Paradoxical Allure & Terror of Death

Most of us fear death on some level—that final stroke of our lives that will push us off into the hereafter and the mystery that awaits. To some, death marks an end to an otherwise short flash of conscious life in a vast, mysterious cosmos. To many others, Christians especially, it’s a beginning to a new life—a rebirth into an eternal state of being based on the state we’ve chosen for ourselves. And even as Christians who profess the resurrection of Christ and the eternal Kingdom of Heaven for those who choose love in this life, there is still something fearful, unnatural, and—paradoxically—alluring about death.

God did not create the death that we know—one beset with fear, pain, sadness and horror. We created that death with our decision to turn from God and sin—inviting the natural consequences of such a decision to follow: a return to dust. However, Christ, through his death on the cross and resurrection, has conquered death. It’s good news. It’s very good news that we must proclaim to our culture lest we become filled to the brim with woe. Still, despite Christ’s victory over sin and death, we will still endure a natural death—a reality that doesn’t go down easy for most of us.

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What If They Hate Me?

I’ve always struggled with being open. Since I’ve started this blog, I’ve had to open myself up in ways that I’ve never been comfortable doing. I recall setting up my Twitter account a few weeks ago and thinking to myself, man, I really don’t want to do this. What was I going to say? Am I selling out in some way, only adding to the noise of the culture? What if people hate me? What if I’m seen as irrelevant and weird? What if someone hacks my Twitter account and torches my reputation in front of my 24 followers? That’s two dozen people!

When it comes to social media, I’m by no means leading the charge, juggling between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Ello and SnapChat, although the same can’t be said about Tinder… I’m kidding. I am.

Let me paint a picture for you, I just recently changed my profile picture on my Facebook account. The last (and only time) I did that was almost ten years ago, when I was a Sophomore in college. Yes, all these years my Facebook profile donned a 19-year-old version of me with flowing, bushy hair and a white, juvenile face set against a gas station at night. Yep, it was a good one. Even though it left something to be desired, and was old, I didn’t care. Or, maybe to be more honest, I wanted people to think I didn’t care. Continue reading

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