Monday, May 9, 2016


Each of us have roles in life. There are many labels we use to describe these. In them, we find a sense of purpose. When we ask the question, "Who am I?", we focus on these aspects in order to understand ourselves. Yet, do they really define self? What exactly does?

As I view my life, I see a number of things. I am an artist. As such, I have a role in the local community and society. I have been blessed with many supporters and friends with my art endeavors. My purpose as an artist is an important part of me.

I have been a husband for almost five years. I have a role in marriage, having been blessed with a unique woman who loves me more than I deserve. Being a husband is an important part of me.

I am a member of a local church. I am blessed to have friends there that I value very much. They have been a support for my parents and welcomed me as well. Being involved in the church community is an important part of me.
I am the son of caring parents, for much of my life they have been a support in the midst of challenges I had that were not easy for them. Their imprint will be part of me for the rest of my life. My role as a son, and in the wider sense of my family, is an important part of me.

All of these make up parts of me. Yet, considered individually, or combined together, they do not ultimately define me as a person. What defines me, that which determines my identity, that which designates who I am – is grounded in the fact that I am loved by a Holy God. I am loved in an undeserved grace, received as His own in the person of His Son Jesus Christ. It binds all of these parts together, is head of all of them, and establishes their value. This truth is so profound as to encompass and define life, with all the roles or purposes in relation to it.

This does not equate to the label "very religious person”, though it may seem to. Most of the things that I shared concern relationship. I am bound to the person of Jesus Christ wholly, in relationship with the most beautiful love anyone can ever know. It is a life of ever receiving. Daily His love shines in my experiences, making all good things beautiful, working beauty and grace from pain. My soul rests, it finds completion in He who not only made me, but redeemed me. When I come to know that I was created by a personal God, am saved by His grace to draw near to Him, I find the fruition and reason for my very being. I find why I am really me, what I exist for.

God’s love in Christ is what defines me. In this, it does not negate the rest, rather, it imbues them with even more meaning they could have alone. This purpose infuses all of life. Christ is the “Amen” to all truth, to all love, to all the events I experience. He is on the throne of every life’s breath, yet intimately as a friend who never leaves or forsakes. Such joy is wonderful and beautiful, permeating life with the sublime love Christ has for us.

Artwork: "Awaken", © Jeffrey M Green. We see in this work a sense of determination, of purpose. The realization of which is that of bringing about the awareness of an awakening from things that have gone before.

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Desire to Avoid Discomfort

As Americans, perhaps more than any other culture, we tend to resist any form of discomfort. Whether it is physical, financial, emotional, or situational, we cry out against difficulty. We are brought up on our rights, what we can demand, and what we see as a sacred promise of the pursuit of individual happiness. In some ways today, these noble ideas have transformed in our psyche as a desire to shield ourselves from any trouble at all in life. You might even say we largely have redefined them solely to serve our own comfort.

When it comes to real life, it is unavoidable that there will be some kind of trouble. There will be difficult, even painful experiences. We may encounter this almost every day in some manner, or go through periods where we are overwhelmed. Our pasts may be filled with events that left many scars inside of us.

Some seek comfort desperately - or at least the lack of discomfort - by self medicating with drugs, alcohol, prescription abuse, or a myriad of diversions and entertainments. Modern life has uniquely brought many challenges of stress, along with ways of promising to alleviate it, though ultimately they add to the problem. The pull of them, nevertheless, is very strong.

Not everyone reacts this way. Perhaps the most universal reaction in the desire to avoid discomfort is complaining. Grousing has almost become a right in and of itself in our society, while on an individual level it defines much of our conversation. We complain about our bills, our health, our bad breaks, our marriages, how people treat us. The airwaves and media are filled with complaints about our government. We respond with visceral emotion, as if entitled to an intrinsic right to be free of any challenges. If things are not this way, we feel something is very wrong.

In terms of societal interaction, when we see all discomfort defined as a wrong itself, blame becomes a ready weapon, enmity the energy of social discourse. With punishment and apologies demanded, we are appeased, so we can feel safe and comfortable again. Is our over-vigilant sensitivity to tolerance issues, political correctness, or our raging against any contrary opinion other than our own (whatever they may be for either side) really a desire to never be uncomfortable?

When we allow our experiences to be in the hands of God, rather than our own, we are free to address life’s situations in a much healthier manner. In Christ, trials and difficulty are the chief way that God enables us to grow. In and through them God brings beauty and transformation, for our good. In this way difficulty transcends our annoyance, our resistance, and bitter complaining. Instead, it becomes opportunity. Our focus then is not on ease, but on Him.

There really is no way to avoid all discomfort or difficulty. We do not need to allow these experiences to go to waste, using up precious mental and emotional energy. By offering it to our Father, in trust that He has our best in mind at all times, we are free to receive the joy of His love in the midst of painful trials. It is a sure promise to hold onto, even when things get tough. It is then that abundant blessings await us.

Artwork: "Jetty", © Jeffrey M Green.