I visited Mammoth Cave the other day. It was incredible. A truly impressive experience.
At the tour's lowest point we were actually 300 feet below the surface of the Earth.
It was dark. Enormous rocks pressed in from all sides. Folks who struggle with claustrophobia are not encouraged to go on this hike. Human beings don't like to be boxed in.
Friends, we live in a culture that boxes us in. The desire for physical perfection and social satisfaction drive our words and many of our actions. Our choices are fewer because our wish for status walls us off from so many adventures. It's a narrow climb. And when we get to the top? . . . we realize we've actually come to the bottom.
Last week I was speaking with a few honest ladies.
One of them used the phrase "fake booking." If you're reading this because you found the link on Facebook, then that phrase should mean something to you. It's a phrase that refers to ONLY ever sharing perfection online. In other words - a Facebook profile that is full of perfect pictures and the best moments and deep, wise thoughts from our lives. No mistakes. None of our worries. It makes us look almost immortal - Hellen of Troy - everybody's favorite person. But not really a person.
Only wanting to share certain things - or even only wanting to share nice things is NOT bad.
However - obsessing over other people's lives IS bad for us.
I should know. I get jealous and compare other people's lives to mine based on what I see online.
How many times have you seen a picture that leads you to somebody's profile, where you then spend time lusting after somebody else's life?
Their children are perfect . . . . their house is big . . . they have their career together . . . they never seem flustered . . . . they are an eternal optimist . . . nothing ever seems to go wrong for them.
This is a tough subject . . . so please take a minute and pray with me:
we confess that we are overwhelmed and overcrowded in the midst of our culture. We confess that we often want what other people have and therefore miss seeing you in the middle of what we have been given. We ask for your vision - to see blessing around every corner. We ask for your mercy - to pick us up out of our self pity. We ask for your strength - to keep us from looking away from our own path, to keep us steady in your presence. God - we thank you for LIFE. We cannot live completely apart from you. Help us to be fully awake and present in our own lives today.
This is such a beautiful song. Take a second and reflect on the words.
"When you see a man walk free, it makes you dream of Jubilee.
When you see a child walk free, it makes you dream of Jubilee.
When you see a family free, it makes you dream of Jubilee.
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on."
300 feet below the surface our tour guide took out a candle and lit it. He held it up and said, "What does this mean to you?"
I thought about light . . . and I thought about Jubilee.
Do you know what Jubilee is?
It's complicated. And people argue about it. But I'll tell you what I think.
Jubilee is mentioned in the Old Testament - Leviticus 25. It refers to a year within a cycle of law practiced by the Hebrew people. During the year of Jubilee, which was supposed to happen repeatedly (every so many years), people returned property to its heirs. Enslaved people were allowed to go free. Debts were forgiven. Fields rested so that the land could recover. Etc.
An entire culture is freed up during Jubilee. An entire people return everything to a state of rest and unbind themselves from greed and excess.
This is an over simplified sneak peek at the idea of Jubilee. If you want better answers about it - please do ask a Biblical scholar that you know or do some more reading. There are lots of opinions and historical studies out there. And then, of course, there is Leviticus.
What does the idea of Jubilee in a cave have to do with this issue of fake booking?
After our tour guide lit the candle and said, "What does this mean to you?" 300 feet below the surface of the Earth, he snuffed it out.
It was completely dark.
And someone in the crowd said, "I know what it means."
The guide said, "What, then?"
The reply was quiet, "Oxygen. And sight."
Oxygen and sight.
We need space and Perspective.
Can I tell you something ugly about myself? Fake booking has more to do with my eyes than the life of the person I am looking at.
It has everything to do with how I am looking at them and how I am not looking at my own life. It has to do with giving thanks and not giving thanks.
Living thankfully protects us from our cultural claustrophobia.
And I've been thinking about this for days now . . . nobody has a perfect life. Nobody here is any better than anyone else. Our lives are shaped differently and we are asked only to negotiate our own existence the best we can. We were not built to fixate on other people in a negative way.
I can't control what somebody else posts online. It's none of my business. Public forum or not - I can only control myself. I can only work with my own eyes and make my own choices.
That statement can be applied to almost anything else that another person is doing in any area of my life. I can only control myself. I cannot control anybody else.
I am ready to take the long walk back up to the light.
I want to live in the middle of an eternity of social Jubilee.
I am ready to relax my grip on thoughts like "perfect house" and "perfect career" and "perfect music."
What is your Jubilee?
Where are you seeking freedom?
Where will the act of Giving Thanks help to refocus and grant perspective?
I don't have any answers. Just confessions and questions.
Peace and Goodness.