Stuck

I’d mentioned before on here that my dad worked in a nuclear power plant.  He’d spent two decades there as an operator, a staff member working on upkeep of engines and various machines at the plant including the reactor. I remember being awed at the mystery of the thing, the idea of working with radiation and the precarious spot of being an everyday employee.

In fifth grade we had to do a science fair project.  Dad helped me with a presentation on the Chernobyl disaster. HBO recently aired an outstanding series on the events surrounding it.

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image from hbo.com

For those of you unfamiliar, a reactor at the plant melted down after a faulted safety test in the middle of the night.  This exposed workers and residents of the town of Pripyat and the fallout is still being felt decades later. Pripyat was a town built specifically for workers at the plant and their families.  Today it stands abandoned.

The lessons behind the incident are explored in the series. What is the price of lies and secrets? How valuable is information? When is reputation more important than life itself?

We watch the show and wonder what we would have done, being faced with certain death. We consider the cost of duty and we rage with those the government had left behind in their efforts to cover up the true scope of the disaster.

Our lives have power and potential.  We radiate with purpose.  We are driven with a force strong enough to light a thousand cities and yet we can find ourselves stuck.

We fall slave to routine. We find comfort when lies are easier than truth, avoiding correction is easier than facing the music for our mistakes. We settle and fight, pull away into isolation and find comfort in a place that slowly takes our hours until the sun sets and darkness falls.

If you find yourself in this spot, there is hope.

People in social media land make significant money helping people find hope.  They do it in appearance, words, finances, status, any key they can find.  They miss the point though.

Hope is not a concrete thing.

Hope is an internal switch.  It is the moment you realize you are tired of being tired, that nothing changes if nothing changes.  It is the point you look in the mirror and decide you’d had enough. It is the moment you burn it all down and walk away from the ashes on a new path with new life and direction.

Hope can’t be sold or captured, forced into a form or transaction. Hope comes in understanding that God is doing a work in you even in the midst of darkest night.

We get stuck when we are caught in routine, following a rote path carved out because someone said we should, falling to peer pressure and the comparison game, giving up and settling down because it is easy.

Hope is not easy. Know today that the fire still burns within you, the light of a million suns and the potential to change the world, your family, your marriage, your children, and every single breath.

I believe this and I believe, as you read this, a small voice inside agrees with me.  You can feel it ready to soar, to break out and push forward. Your day is here.

Your time is now.

Blinding Light and True Detective

I love the HBO series, True Detective. Written and created by Nic Pizzolato, it follows the path of two main characters per season as they investigate crimes. The first season stars Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey as they chase down a ritual killer. McConaughey and Harrelson make an interesting pairing and they have quotable dialogue about faith, love, family, violence and life throughout the season.

Pizzolato, I’m assuming on purpose, has McConaughey’s character as an atheist and Harrelson’s character as a believer. In real life, their personal beliefs are switched, with Harrelson the atheist and McConaughey a practicing Catholic.

The show is intense and gritty. The pair break down doors and shake down criminals, all through the quest to do what is right, even if it means being “bad men” in the process.

The one we know as Paul, the writer of the majority of the New Testament, was the lowest of the low, the most “bad man” in his time. Paul was the enforcer. Here was a unique combination of Jewish man and Roman citizen tasked by his government to ferret out and arrest those following this new belief system rising out of Jerusalem.

At the time, Rome ruled the territory and these believers were opposition, insurgents whose actions led to wild claims and movements causing disquiet in the halls of power.

Imagine a dusty street two thousand years ago.

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Life passes on a daily routine to the market, work, meals and family. Yet there is a buzzing, a movement stirring. People speak in the corners in whispers as they look out for wandering ears. They spread messages of great things and renewed hope as this Paul rides into town with soldiers at his side.

There’s a scene in the first season of True Detective where McConaughey’s character, acting as an undercover member of a gang, raids a suspected drug house. He kicks down the door and gathers opposition guys at gun point.

In the book of Acts, a similar scene plays out. We read of the stoning of Stephen and, in the midst of the violence, Paul stands to the side admiring the work.

This was not someone to mess with.

As his group progresses down the Damascus Road, a blinding light appears.

There are times that our vision will vanish, times of tragedy, sorrow, loss or distress. Health issues materialize out of the blue and life changes before you leave the doctor’s office.

In 2008, I had spent five years at a financial company. I knew it wasn’t my destiny and I’d stared at many computer monitors dreaming of a change. When the recession happened, I was laid off with three hundred other employees. I drove home to the house we had just purchased, picked up our six-month old son, and cried.

The light was blinding and, in the midst of it, the narrative shifts.

If you are enjoying these posts, preview selections of my upcoming publication The _nd, please share and follow. There are changes coming in the near future that I’m excited to share. The _nd is truly the beginning.  Stay tuned!

~Matt