I suppose I can understand throwing pumpkins onto the sidewalk outside of Burgh--pumpkins do make a ridiculously satisfying sound when they hit pavement from a height, but the North Parker past time that I simply don't understand is throwing oranges. Maybe it's a Swedish tradition descended from immigrants of old that I just don't know about (this is the country that has a holiday in which they throw pancakes or waffles or donuts or some other breakfast pastry at each other, according to Mari). Maybe it's an unspoken rite of passage between North Park men, like No-Shave November, the Freshmen Streak, or longboarding, but I doubt it. I think it just is some weird, primal urge to throw things. Maybe it's like monkeys throwing their feces around. Except North Park guys aren't monkeys, and they're throwing produce, not...well, you know.
All of this is to say that I was walking to the library to, erm, work (not blog, work, ahem...yeah.) when I looked down and saw the sides of the walkway littered with split oranges, lying desolately like casualties on a battlefield. My first inclination was to check the nearby windows, and sure enough, there was orange juice running down one of the panes at the Seminary. I don't know why, but my mind flew to the devotion that my Greek professor shared this morning. He read a verse from Romans with us and reminded us of the responsibilities of being a Christian, namely to give up your entire life to God. Not just your Sunday mornings or your crappy weeks or that one thing that you really really want, but your entire being--your dreams and your successes and your plans.
I must admit, it hit home.
I've realized within the past week that I really haven't been doing that. I've been keeping my dreams and my aspirations to myself, even if they wear spiritual clothes. I want Oxford and a publishing deal and a standing ovation at a Society of Biblical Literature conference, all while saying that the work I do on the Bible is for God when it's really for me and my glory. Maybe God doesn't want Oxford for me. Maybe he wants me to go to some podunk seminary in Poughkipsie to impact the people there.
God doesn't give us spiritual gifts to use for ourselves, He gives them to us to use for the Spirit. Otherwise, they'd be called "me gifts", wouldn't they? Doesn't have the same ring to it, I think.
"Living with God in control of only part of your life is a shallow salvation" said Dr. Lee this morning, "and we can't let it impact our evangelization. I constantly tell people 'Don't convert yet, you don't understand what you're getting into.' Because they have to know, they have to know that the Christian life is not an easy one, and you have to be able give up all control." But I've never known a Christian who knew exactly what they were getting into when they came to the faith. We sing our praise songs and recite our sinners' prayers and swear that this is a white funeral, that we're a new creation. And then we try to dominate it because maybe God won't come through on His end of the deal, or maybe He'll tell us to do something we don't like. So we go on missions trips because it seems like something good, spiritual people do when we're really called to and meant for the divided Church at home. We go for the highest-caliber Bible study we can find when maybe God just wants us to do a simple devotional more than once every few months. We look for 7 steps to "become a better you" when the only step we should take is to ask God how to live our "best life now" and then actually do it. We demand control of something that was never really only ours to begin with, that's God's and God's alone to control, and before we know it the orange that is our soul runs into the window that is our plans and we end up like those oranges I saw in between the library and the Seminary--crushed on the pavement, with juice running down the window.
The part that gets me about all of this is that if that window at the Seminary hadn't been in the way, those oranges would have landed in the chapel.
Which is probably where our oranges all belong in the first place.