the other day a friend of mine blogged about the art of becoming comfortably numb.
Think about your life. The heating/air conditioning keep us from the cold/heat outside, not to mention having to chop wood for the fireplace. We watch TV or read books as a means of escape. Some of our greatest societal ills are the result of trying not to feel anything, or at least only what feels good: Alcohol, drugs or even caffeine, anyone?i don't like to feel pain. not just physical pain. any kind. most people don't like it at all. and so we cope. sometimes in productive ways. sometimes in not so productive ways. whatever vice we use, it'll only mask the pain. like novacaine. it blocks the pain, but it doesn't take it away.
the other nite we received our latest Netflix movie: Revolutionary Road. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet star as Frank and April Wheeler, a young couple starting out their lives together, wanting desperately to be 'different' and to not end up like everybody else.
Before too long, years have past. Children were born and their suburban, mid-1950's lifestyle had not become as spectacular or special as they had hoped. Little by little, their lives began to fall apart, their goals and dreams put on hold, trapped inside a cavern of numbness that began to take away hope. When you take away hope, you take away life.
slowly, both Frank and April, in their own unique ways allowed the mundane to bring on atrophy to a once vibrant life, full of hope. Frank feels he is ending up like his old man, something he swore he'd never let happen. he takes the train to work at a job where he finds little enjoyment. His fears keep him from becoming anything other than what he is. April wants to live in Paris, France or somewhere 'special' but feels trapped in the 'burbs, wishing her life was different; it is evident that both crave something more. something deeper.
i couldn't help but see the parallels to today's world. Fear grips us. The numbness traps us. and our lives slowly wither away. We crave something more. We want to feel something deep inside. But our pain blockers end up stealing away our joy as well. How can we experience true joy if we don't have pain to compare it to? we just sit, comfortably. on the couch. watching television. eating ice cream. and all the while life passes us by. before we know it, we're 60 and what do we have to show for it?
trapped. wanting out, but not knowing what we need to do to get out. our muscles tired. our mind turned to mush. it's the novacaine principle and it can take over our lives.
This craving for something more has plagued man's heart from the beginning of time. Augustine wrote about it. We can want something more so bad, talking about it, planning how to get it but getting out there and searching for it takes a lot of effort. and it's all too easy for the years to pass on by without any of us finding that which truly fulfills.
i believe that there is one place where we can find that fulfillment. it starts with becoming a follower of Jesus. not by going to church or by learning the ABC's of the salvation that Jesus offers. Fulfillment is found when we have faith and trust in Christ alone. A follower is more than an attendee or casual observer. A follower is a disciple. Disciplined. Dirty from the dust of the Rabbi's sandals. Nothing casual about that. We have a lot of church goers who know all the right things to say - but being a follower is so much more than speaking. Words without action are merely wasted air - draining the energy of the person who speaks them.
Jesus said that he came to give us life and life to the full. Paul reminds us that (if we are true followers of Christ) we are new creations - the old is gone. The mundaine is put to rest. The numbness subsides. And as a follower - no Novocaine is desired. we want to see and feel pain. ours. others. the worlds. and we rejoice in suffering because we trust that it will produce character and hope.
And hope does not disappoint us. and because of hope - we obey. And after all, that is all Jesus really asks of us... it's not all about 'feeling good'... it's about obeying the Master, Jesus.