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Archive for the ‘Faith & Trust’ Category

The other night we watched the movie “Waiting for Forever” about a boy who had been in love with his childhood girlfriend since they were 10 and officially lost touch when his parents died in a train accident and he and his brother moved to their grandparents. As he grows older, though, he follows the love of his youth wherever her professional career takes her, himself making a living of 3 dollars a day (“on a good day”) as a juggler dressed in pyjamas.
Although this wasn’t the best film I watched of late (for instance, there was the excellent 2010 film “Fair Game,” which gives further insight into the insanity that’s still being perpetrated in Iraq), “Waiting for Forever” moved me most. Not so much because of the plot, but because of the fact that I was watching it with my 28 year old wife who might never get to know the kind of culture that grants a fellow the liberty to make a very unstable living on 3 bucks a day as a juggler, traveling wherever his dream would take him.
Although the boy in the movie was met with heavy criticism from his older brother (a banker), and was being called a stalker, and despite the fact that his kind is a dying breed in the West, at least we have come to know that sort of a culture, while other countries, such as the one I’m currently residing in, probably never will.

Though the culture whose hospitality I’m currently enjoying is by no means an exclusive example of what I’d like to call the “imposed realism” that not only political leaders, but even more so cultural and traditional elders seem to feel obligated to circumcise their offspring’s dreams and ideals with, it is definitely an outstanding example.
You cannot just marry the man or girl you love. Any man that intends to marry is expected to have a house first. My wife has told me of an experience in a Shanghai park where she watched hundreds of elderly couples looking for suitable spouses for their daughters (or sons) with a list of criteria in hand that any potential candidate would have to live up to; criteria primarily based on income.

A juggler making 3 bucks a day wouldn’t stand an chance in hell to get married under that set of conditions. It might me hard in the West, but just about impossible in the East.

Of course, when I was a young lad back in Germany, I got to hear much of the same tune from my folks. Not that they would have expected of me to be able to buy a house before I started messin’ round with the opposite sex, but I was repeatedly advised to “get a good education” to secure a “solid existence” for myself. When I came home one day telling them that I met a group of people who were “foolowing Jesus,” and that one day I would like to do the same, they were naturally horrified.

In the meantime they have accepted my somewhat loose, though not entirely carefree life-style, and my father, having seen his own supposedly “solid existence” and career go down the drain due to fluctuations and instability in the economy has told me since that I made the right choice when I set out to do what I did.
In the West, though, parents have their existence taken care of by retirement insurances, and both my parents are currently better off with their pensions than I am as an English teacher in the Far East, where the only old-age insurance elderly parents have got are their children and their respective incomes, so it’s somewhat understandable that they want their kids to be able to care for them. Many young people live under a lot of pressure because of that responsibility.

Then again, my reasoning is that many things in life are simply beyond our control. Everything is potentially subject to drastic and unexpected changes: death, illness or financial and economic disaster can hit anyone at any time, and what power does anyone really have, to effectively impose their own little reality on anyone in the long run, even their kids?

When Jesus went around luring established young men with flourishing businesses away from their homes and responsibilities telling them He would make them “fishers of men,” certainly He wasn’t met with strong enthusiasm on behalf of those men’s families. For all we know, some of them (like Peter) were even married and possibly had children. What an irresponsible thing to do, to just walk off with a perfect stranger of questionable reputation, Messiah or not…
And from a “realist’s” point of view, that criticism may well be justified: 10 of those young men ended up as martyrs, one committed suicide, and only one died of natural causes on an island where he exiled by the Romans.
Their philosophies and beliefs as expressed in their writings are questionable to this day, and even most “believers” only accept those parts of the Gospels that they can reconcile with the consensus of the imposed realism of our day and age.

The first rule and law is not “to love one another,” but to secure one’s own existence, which, as the Founder of their faith claimed, is no different from what unbelievers adhere to.

So, what would be making a difference then? – Trust.

The people who really made a difference throughout history were those who despite all the seemingly rhymeless reality all around us never ceased to trust that there was Someone ultimately in charge Who not only knew what He was doing, but was also going to take care of them, provide for them, and help them through this mess somehow.

In my own personal experience, I can only confirm that to be true, and I would strive for nothing more than to go down in history as one of those trusters who refuse to accept the artificially imposed realism from those around us – even our loved ones – no matter how justified their reasoning may seem; a person known for the belief that there is a greater Mind than even the wisest of our parents, how ever strange some of the things may first sound that this Great Mind may ask of us – much like a Parent Himself, asking His children to trust Him for the things they do not know, which basically is the essence of faith – the one currency that will outlast any of our existing ones.

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Usually I’ve answered the question, “What do you do for a living?” by saying, “By playing music,” which was usually met with an unbelieving, questioning look as if to say, “You’re serious?” But the longer I think about it, it’s not entirely true. Playing music was only a small part of what I do for a living, and I’m afraid, the part that sounds more believable.
The main part I’ve done for a living over the past 30 years, ever since I left my mother’s home in 1980, was even more outrageous and less believable that “play music.” What I’ve mostly done over the past 3 decades to sustain myself and my families, was to trust the Lord.

Often I’ve been trying to get away from that, and been looking for ways to be able to do just like everybody else: be comfortably relying on my own strengths and wit and fend for myself, as opposed to depending on some obscure, invisible Supreme Being we really know rather little about to be trusting Him with all our bills, our meals and a roof over our house.
Oddly enough, obscure and invisible or not, He has chosen to do so anyway, and has just been doing it (seeing to it that our bills were paid, moths fed, etc.), despite my own often less than appropriate skills and abilities to provide, and even the shocking fact that most of what I do in order to make it happen when I do, is play music.

It was outrageous enough, but infinitely less difficult back 30 years ago, in 1980, when I was young, optimistic and the world had not yet been drowned in the type of plastic entertainment that has managed to make them practically allergic to actual handcrafted music in the 21st century.
The doors were open wide, and it was easy to be optimistic that things were going to just keep getting better.
There were situations that looked desperate, yes; like the time our car broke down right on the main transit street through Barcelona, and we had to unhook the trailer, park in a tiny little side niche on the side of the road which became our home for the next few days. Me and my American partner Phillip took our guitars to the streets and did what we could to little avail, except for the pity of some merciful old lady that would occasionally toss a tiny coin in our guitar case. But at one point, some guy came up to us, interrupted us in the middle of a song, and after a few minutes we found ourselves booked for a whole week in an exclusive club called “Incontro.” A week later, our car was fixed and we rolled on southward.

A year later I found myself having to fend for myself in Vina del Mar, Chile, a place where the familiar luxuries of Europe were frighteningly absent, but even there God did what I couldn’t and supplied abundantly for all the needs I ever had.

Years later I found myself with a family, kids to feed and bills to pay, and God kept doing it.

Lately I’ve found myself having to fend for myself again, and it’s 3 decades later and the world has changed into a state that sometimes makes me wonder, “Alas, is the Almighty still going to manage and keep doing IT?”

Well, as of the news I got from Him this morning, He obviously intends to do so. Good news for me, since I’m just about as clueless about the business world and the art of making money as I’ve ever been – and that in the middle of the world in which just about everyone else does that and absolutely nothing – or at least not much – else.
The good part about it being that God, over the years, has become a little less obscure and unknown to me, even though I admit, it’s still sometimes a little hard to see Him in all the hubbub and confusion all around me, and every now and then it does cost me a little effort to trust that He’s really serious or in His right mind about it all – or whether I am, until He assures me, as usual, that everything’s going to be alright.
In fact, He’s not crazy at all, nor does He want me to believe that I am, but actually encourages me to let others know that He wants to take care of them and their needs, too, as unbelievable as that may sound.

When it all comes down to it, He already provides all we need in the first place: every breath of oxygen we breathe, every swig of water we drink, along with all the raw material for our food, nourishment and fuel to keep our vehicles moving and out houses warm and lit.
It’s just that instead of granting Him the credit for it, we prefer to ascribe all that benevolence to an even more obscure and questionable deity, namely coincidence or chance, that brought about all that opulence simply by itself. Man, are we one lucky species to be alive!

So, what do I do for a living? Well, mainly, I trust the Lord. I’ve done it yesterday and 30 years ago, am doing it today, and will keep on doing it tomorrow and for as long as I live. I can do no other. I simply haven’t learned anything else.

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