I have been in a funk lately. For the last couple weeks it seems like nothing I do has had any meaning or validity to it. It has felt like I left my life at the bus stop or the mall around Thanksgiving and never made the effort to go back and find it but instead have just tried to get by without; like my livelihood has been that favorite pair of jeans that are dirty but I've just been too lazy to wash them so I just stick with wearing the ones that are a size too small. Something was wrong, but I couldn't put my finger on it. I hadn't stolen anything, looked at porn or betrayed anyone lately, so why did I feel like crap? I was reading my Bible, but the words seemed distant, I was spending time in prayer, but my praises and requests seemed too ephemeral, like they were getting lost somewhere between me and God. I felt lonely, even though I was constantly surrounded by people; good people. What was this thing, this feeling that was keeping me down, keeping me stuck in second gear? I asked God to show me, but all I could think about was my Dad.
His birthday was a couple of weeks ago, and although I have made a couple of efforts to see him, I just couldn't track him down. He can be a hard man to find at times. He doesn't own a cell phone, has never been on a computer, and I would be surprised if he knew what the Internet was. He is 54 and lives with some friends in a mobile home in the small mountain town I grew up in. He works as a roofer, has worn the same ratty Giant's hat for the last 20 years and I can't picture him without a beer in his hand. He is a good, kind-hearted man who would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. He is also the definition of the word pagan. Now, most of us when we hear the word "pagan" conjure up images of men in black robes with goats and pentagrams tattooed on their arms dancing around a fire in the woods. While that maybe one description of the term, it's certainly not what the people of Jesus' time thought of. The word pagan in its greek roots refers to people who live in rural areas and work with the land for survival and tend to worship things like trees, animals and other objects in the natural order. A professor I once had defined a pagan as "the guy who lives on the farm." Now my father would never be described as a religious man, but my mother once told me that the one conversation she had with him on the subject had my father telling her that he believed in the Sun, that we were grown in the ground and the Sun grows us and we should worship the Sun because that is were life comes from(I could make a really cheesy christian joke right now about worshipping "the Son" and totally over-spiritualize this, but I'll save that for my friend Andy). That my friends is paganism. I never really thought he was serious about this until I started thinking about his life and the way it plays out. You see, my father is a man completely devoid of any purpose, goals or aspirations, and has been since as far back as I can remember. Now he is not lazy or irresponsible in the traditional sense; he works hard at a blue-collar construction job and has since before I was born, but he is extremely lazy and irresponsible in the sense of having his life go somewhere. Nothing drives him. Nothing stirs him. Nothing tugs at his inner being and pulls him to achieve or excel. If I could link these two things together, his paganistic beliefs and his complete lack of purpose, I would have to say that because he sees life as just part of the natural order, no different than a tree or a waterfall or a badger, then that is what leads him to be totally bankrupt of drive and desire. I wondered what it must be like for my dad, floating through life aimlessly, moving from job to job, bar to bar, never quite having a destination but driving anyway. Then it hit me, this is how I have felt for the last 3 weeks.
You see, we all inherit things from our parents; things like eye color, metabolism and heart disease. But we also inherit spiritual qualities. we carry around a generational sin, an iniquity that can be traced down the very roots of our family tree. for some of us it's anger, for some it's alcoholism, for me it's laziness and futility. My father passed down to me and my brothers(although both of them have taken two wildly different paths with it) a sense that nothing we do matters, and it's too hard to do anyway, so why bother? It has permeated nearly every area of my life and has been something I have fought for 10 years, with mixed results. To be completely honest, It is a daily battle for me to get up early, shower, brush my teeth, eat right, exercise, do my homework, and take care of myself, and these last couple weeks have been a massive failure on most of those fronts. It has been a sin I have needed to repent of, and this is my confession. God has been showing me that I am not my father, I do not have to live his life and It would be sin of the highest order to deny the new life He has given me for my dad's life that I was sure to repeat without God's mercy and intervention. It will be 10 years that I have been walking(or stumbling) with Jesus this week and I have been dwelling on the state of my life had it had not been for the irresistible call of of the Gospel on that cold Thursday night a decade ago. The problem is that I have been living like that never happened. I have been living like God hasn't call me out of darkness and into light, beckoning me toward the godward life of making much of Jesus. It is so easy for us to revert to some old version of ourselves because we know where that self will go and what they will do, but to live in the moment, as one chasing after Jesus is the most dangerous thing one can experience. That is what we were made for, not some meaningless cycle of eat, sleep, work, repeat, die. It is so hard for me to live purposefully, proclaiming the name of Jesus, but it is the only reason I am alive. It is the only reason you are alive. For those that know me, I invite you into my life. Help keep me accountable to the life God has called me to. I only seeing it getting harder, but God has not given me my fathers life. He has given me my own and does not expect to live his mistakes, follies or regrets. I hope this has been a blessing to you, and that God will show you that you have been given no one else's life but your own, and even though we carry around the burden of our parents sin, "The Spirit has set us free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death"(Romans 8:2), and we no longer need to follow their mistakes, but learn by the grace of God that he is true when he says "Look, I am making all things new!"