This entry was posted on Sunday, March 23rd, 2008 at 2:45 pm and is filed under personal musings. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
We have been studying the Gospel of Mark in my small group since October ‘07 and hope to finish by the end of May. It has been an incredibly rewarding pursuit and I may speak more to this in the future. All that needs to be told now is that I decided not to go on a ski trip this weekend because I have a 8-page paper on printmaker Kathe Kollwitz due Monday, and a production journal and paper edit to turn in to my professor Jamie Meltzer which is late beyond measure (which in my mind constitutes an indefinite deadline). The gameplan was to be a good student and finish the work, and also read the last one-third of Mark since it was the Easter weekend.
Suffice to say that the work has not commenced. It was a gorgeous day Saturday and I spent the latter part of the afternoon sitting in the Main Quad outside Building 120 enjoying some tea (PG Tips: the best plebian black tea on earth with the possible exception of Dilmah) and chocolates (Ritter Sport Rum, Raisin & Hazelnuts: slightly more indulgent). We had left off the Mark study just after Jesus had entered Jerusalem: chronologically this marked the start of the last week of his life. As I was reading, I was trying to find a cohesive theme with which to understand this culminating section of Mark.
There were the arguments that Jesus was having with the religious/intellectual leaders, the Passover meal where a woman annointed his head with a jar of perfume worth a whole year’s wages, Judas’s decision to betray Jesus for just 30 silver coins, Jesus’s observation that the poor widow who put in two copper coins into the treasury had given more than the rich who had put in more money (in absolute terms), and then the Garden of Gethsemene , the trial and the crucifixion.
In the first two-thirds of Mark, I’d noticed that the themes had progressed from:
- being called to follow
- listening and asking
- having faith
- what it means to be great (to be the last and servant of all)
What’s struck me with this last section of Mark (with the ringing clarity of a bludgeoning hammer) is the theme of giving to God. Some bible commentaries say the woman with the perfume had probably bought it using her dowry. To the poor widow, the two copper coins were all she had to live on. In neither case do we see their giving as compulsion or obligation; they were wholehearted and in the case of the woman with the perfume, even joyful. Crucially, their giving was one that required dependence and trust in God to provide for the next step.
I don’t give that way.
During summer ‘07, I learnt intellectually that the surest expression of faith is to obey, and to give/tithe. And I was convinced. Convicted. But continued grasping tight to the monetary provision that God had granted through my Harvey Fellows scholarship, the course assistantship at Stanford, and the prize money from Bullet Proof Vest’s screening on POV and Independent Lens Online Fest. Because giving away means I have to wait and trust that God will provide again. The far more palatable option is to not give, and be (for the most part) self-sufficient (of course only possible if one conveniently forgets the source of said original provision).
Even if I can (obstinately) argue my way out of giving financially because I am a starving student, I can’t reason my way out of giving of my time (for instance when I oversleep church on Sundays because a 20 minute bike ride is too much effort to crawl out of bed for).
I believe that God has a good plan for my work- in this case, my thesis project. And the execution of this good plan means that He will be glorified regardless of whether the film itself is critically acclaimed, universally panned, or even worse fades into the wallpaper of mediocity. Because so long as I am obedient day-to-day, the process of trusting and relying on Him will slowly change me more into His likeness. And that is good. I believe this yet I struggle with wanting the critical acclaim. And I wonder how real my words are if I still cannot give, enough.