How to Start a Revolution: What it Means to be Alive, Part 3


revolution

Read these first: Part 1 and Part 2.

Did you take the time to hear it? Did you pick your thoughts up by their tails and hold them close to listen to what they’re really saying? Once you’ve heard how much your own thoughts join the chorus of this world to say “ Not Enough,” you’ll wake up from the wanting as if from anesthesia. You’ll open your eyes and see the numbing IV tapped right into your arm.

Drip … “Your shopping cart is ready and waiting.”

Drip … “Be more relevant to fulfill your rock-star potential.”

Drip … “A large reach means greater impact. Set your podium higher.”

Drip … “Work more mind-numbing hours and then you’ll have enough.”

When you wake up and see your own paralysis, how you’re plugged in to the sickness, you’ll reach over, and you’ll rip that IV right out. It will be like stepping out of an old body, pulling cords out of the wall, pulling hangers out of the closet. Unsubscribe. Unsubscribe. Every No you say will be a clearer perspective of how the kingdom of this world had controlled you. Rip it out.

This is only the surface resistance, but that doesn’t make it easy. It will feel good to clean out your drawers, to give a garage sale for orphans, but you’ll have to live in the resistance to reap the deeper benefits.

When you wake up to your wanting, you’ll have to resist it at every turn, and it will be like taking a walk with the Devil in the dessert. At first you’ll feel hungry. It ain’t easy. Once you’ve begun to peel back the surface-level wanting, you’ll see your options with the perspective of one standing on the edge of a mountain.

Look down from here at that kingdom below. See the palaces and positions? What I really mean is this: imagine your glory. Imagine if you make partner. Imagine if you get that book deal, and they all read it. Imagine that your children never screw up. Imagine if you rise to the top, and you make so much money, gain the influence, drive the car, and live in the most eco-friendly house. Imagine if your church becomes the biggest in town or if you’re associated with world changers. Imagine even your god-sized dream come true. Now ask yourself. Will that glory sustain you?  You will have to make an outright choice. Do you want your earthly kingdom, or do you want the kingdom of heaven?

Do not be afraid. It was the Spirit of God that led Jesus into this wilderness.

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St Cyr is a big man, and his voice booms like thunder. When I met him, I thought well of course, the church grew there in Haiti. He’s a commanding and charismatic leader, yet when I asked him how he came to be a leader, he told me that Christ alone is the leader. He is only a servant. “Only a Servant.” I wonder if someone has used that as a tagline. To him, it was nothing to write down as I am here. To him, it was the dirty, day-in-and-out truth.

He told me the story of his upbringing and all his opportunities to stay in the States to make money, but instead he knew the Lord was telling him to move back to Haiti. This is when I asked him the question: “Do you feel like you chose to be poor?”

Once it came out of my mouth, I realized my perspective was a bit off. He put his hands to the table and leaned his body back. “Let me explain something to you,” he said. That’s when I knew I’d better buckle up.

He explained to me the riches of our faith. It was profound. If God lives in you by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and you’re not distracted and pacified by your own wanting, then your life is so full of fruit, a deep satisfaction, that you would never call that poor in worldly terms. But in the spirit, yes, the poor in spirit are the very ones who inherit the kingdom of Heaven. He told me how faith acts itself out in willingness to work and give, because it is satisfied. A believer knows where her help comes from. He described to me a satisfied church that exists today, not only the Kingdom of Heaven that we’ll see when we cross the finish line, but the Kingdom of Heaven that we are to ask to come on this earth.

Stand on the mountain. See your options. What is the kingdom you seek? Will it satisfy?

fruit

The fruit of Spirit are the invisible traits that will change the world. These are the traits of the personality of Christ. These are in the Spirit alone.

We are brimming with more life than all the riches in the world could buy. The spirit clothes us, every one, in power to be a healer and a jail-breaker.

The question is not whether or not you can be satisfied in church. If that is your question, let me save you some time. You, indeed, will never be satisfied by church.

Now let’s get back to that walk in the desert with the Devil. Notice he doesn’t ask you to look down and see the rat race. He doesn’t tell you to look down and see yourself addicted and exhausted. Look over the edge and see it for what it is, the powers at play.

Now hear the other invitation.

Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;

and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!

Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,

and your labor for that which does not satisfy?

Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.

Incline your ear, and come to me;

hear, that your soul may live.

Are you listening?

If you want to start a revolution ask yourself what it means to be alive.

Tomorrow I’ll post one of the strangest things I’ve ever written. Then this series will be back on Friday to talk about what this means in church (your local church and the broader American church), and until then I hope to see you in the wilderness. Until then I’m going to keep pulling the pacifiers out of my own mouth in exchange for food.

amberhaines
About me

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13 Comments

Emily
Reply May 20, 2014

AMBER. You are killing me with this series.

Brandee
Reply May 20, 2014

I do think for some of us, for me, it has to be an almost violent (I would use the word radical but prefer the connotations of violent to the connotations of radical; go figure.) change every time. I tell myself I'm going to step back, and that never works for me. I guess I'm all or nothing. So, for example, with my eating. I say to myself: I'm going to watch my portion sizes and ease up on the sugar. That doesn't work. I have to pretty much go vegan to realize a change. Facebook (I'm smart enough not to even START w/ the Twitter and Instagram) was the same to me. I told myself over and over: I was going to back off. That didn't work. I had to cold-turkey quit. There were some toxic relationships along the way (especially when I was single): same thing. I had to quit them entirely.

I'm thinking so many things, so thank you. It's all fleeting, here. I mean, say you become...I don't know...President of the U.S. Great. How many regular joes in far-away countries know who you are? How many people in your own country know much about you, at all, in one hundred years? So if it's important to shine and do your deal and exercise your talents, why is that? Must be for the glory of God. And I don't think He'll want you neglecting your loved ones while you're shining.

Kris Camealy
Reply May 20, 2014

Following along, and pondering these things...

Peggy
Reply May 20, 2014

I loved this post tonight, Amber. I can't tell you how many years God has been dealing with me on the issues of buying fewer clothes, etc. etc. and of eating healthy and laying off the sugar, etc. etc. And I have been struggling to do what I know He wants me to do-to be healthy, to be at peace. But it's been hard-like a wrestling match at times. But enough is enough. Literally.

nicole owens
Reply May 20, 2014

thank you for this, for being the only-a-servant God is moving through to speak life into my rat race this morning. i'm listening.

Marcy
Reply May 21, 2014

Painfully good conversation.

Karen
Reply May 21, 2014

This series has been profound in a way I can't even describe...I'm actually not even sure I know, yet. But I can tell you that it has moved me. We are currently trying to downsize and free up more money, energy and time but real estate is not moving in our area! After many months, I think we need to be praying a different prayer....maybe," Instead of selling it, Lord, what do You want to do with it?"

Honestly, that prayer scares me.........

Alysa
Reply May 21, 2014

You and Seth are challenging me in the best ways possible.

Chadly
Reply May 22, 2014

Amber, This is a marvelous series of posts that have thrilled and inspired me. I confess that I was drawn in by the mere mention of the word 'revolution.' Perhaps you will touch upon this in your post tomorrow, but I was wondering if you could put a more concrete face on your definition of revolution. Are you using the term in a more metaphorical way or to mean a 'big change from business as usual." Because 'revolution' seems to have a very concrete meaning outside of the American context. What seems to be happening in the world outside the U.S.A. is a small(ish) backlash against Capitalism's inherent tendency toward wealth inequality. The consumerism that you mention is only a symptom and a force of capitalism. I cannot, in truth, imagine the demise of Capitalism without imagining bloodshed. Giving up sugar, alcohol, various other consumer addictions seems, to me, like the wrong angle at which to look at the consumer problem. Instead, it is--as you mention--the fact that someone was cheated, wounded, impoverished, robbed of dignity and even life so that you could sweeten your coffee (or drink coffee to begin with)--that seems to matter more to God than that you over-indulged and got fat or addicted. I should really use the "we" instead of the 'you' cause I don't mean to exclude myself or act like I'm waggling a self-righteous finger. So...if we start a revolution, what does that look like in concrete terms? Who's gonna die? Will their deaths promote justice or injustice? If it's a non-violent revolution, then are we ready to watch our brothers and sisters, parents, children, lovers, friends die? To tie this to Haiti, have you ever read the early writings of Jean Baptiste-Aristide? Before he was the president of Haiti, he was a priest and a good one. He was a proponent of the liberating (in real terms) power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. "Blessed are you Poor." When I was in seminary, I was inspired by Aristide's writings, but Aristide's revolution was ultimately a failure for Haiti. At one point, he even armed the 'poor' and told them to go kill his rivals. I've often wondered what the lesson is to learn from Aristide's failure. Thanks again for thought provocation.

Janene
Reply May 23, 2014

I really enjoy the way you express yourself. I've been in the wilderness for 7 years now. My character is being shaped through the limits that have been placed on my life. I don't believe we're supposed to live in constant lack, however, as some may preach about the pleasures of being poor. I am often stressed by not having enough so it really needs to be a balance, not an extreme either way. Honestly it's much more fun to live in abundance.

a
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