While living in Boston, my good friend had started a new job that was well over his head and well overwhelming of his normal way of life. As we sauntered and smoked along the harbor impersonating regular New Englanders, he busted through the conversation with a startling realization: “I think at the core I am interested in my own comfort and God is interested in my character.” The comment pierced me in the kind of way that hurts so good.
The next day I was hanging with another friend, and we were discussing Rob Bell’s recently released book Love Wins, which at the time was providing room for controversial and competing opinions on eternity among all kinds of people. It got us talking about the nature of resurrection and where we’ve misinterpreted the ideas and priorities of Jesus. What would life look like if we stopped concentrating all our efforts on “everyone’s approval of us” and instead looked to be creators of a culture that is anchored in an eternal perspective? The answer: probably something good.
The next evening I sat on the back porch of our Everett Street apartment to get some of these thoughts down on paper. As I thought about doing so, I got intimidated at having to fit them into cohesive narrative. So I left the ideas in their vaguely conclusive state and began tying them together with some loose rhymes instead. This is the art of much of good art, I suppose.
Character – the kind that I imagine endures in the resurrected scope – is not something you can force. It has to be developed, maybe even earned, most often by persevering through the most challenging of circumstances. In the end, I would say it looks a lot like an oak tree that stands tall and serves all the leaves that adorn it. The heat and the drought don’t throw it off, and it never ceases to bear fruit, whatever the season.
“I want in on some of that.”