Chasing Fantasies

snape and lily 2

Ever heard of PewDiePie?  AmazingPhil?  Tobuscus?  I could tell you all about them.  Way too much.

In case you aren’t aware, PewDiePie, AmazingPhil, and Tobuscus are popular YouTubers, each of whom post weekly (if not daily) videos about video games, comedy, and everyday life.  And they have become all-too-familiar faces to me this semester.

I’ll be honest—this semester was one of my hardest.  I had very little motivation to do well in my college classes, and I spent more time than ever immersed in entertainment and social media.  In the midst of tests and homework that I kept pushing off, I started to watch several new television shows and to spend many, many hours watching YouTube videos, when I had much more important things to be doing with my time.  This was not a good combination with the fact that I was taking a couple of classes that were pretty challenging for me.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I love YouTube.  I like social media.  I enjoy entertainment.  (I mean, for real, I’m a college-age geek).  But there is definitely a potential for spiritual warfare in the wake of all of that, and I really faced it last semester.  I fell time and time again to the temptation of chasing fantasies.

Check out this bit of Scripture.

Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.

Proverbs 12:11

I read this Bible verse a few weeks before I finished the semester, and I thought to myself, “What in the world have I been doing?”  All those hours watching television, playing video games, watching YouTube videos…I had been chasing fantasies the whole time, when I should have been working the land.

What exactly is the difference between working the land and chasing fantasies?  To me, to chase a fantasy is to chase something that isn’t real, or that has very little quality or substance.  Basically, it’s a big waste of time, and working the land is exactly the opposite.  To work the land is to sow what is needed so that growth occurs—in this case, spiritual growth—and to make the effort to provide the revitalizing nutrition that your body needs.  Also, perhaps more importantly, it is to trust that the cultivator of the soil will allow the food to come forth in abundance, according to the work that you put into it.

It might be helpful to examine Severus Snape’s undying love for Lily Potter.

snape and lily

I love Snape as a character. Unfortunately, although his and Lily’s story is tragic, he is one of the prime examples of chasing after a fantasy.  (Harry Potter fans, I would understand if you hate me for what I’m about to say, but hear me out, and believe me when I say that I am one of you!)

To help prove my point, let me share with you a portion of the seventh book in the Harry Potter series, when Harry was sifting through a few of Snape’s memories in the Pensieve at Hogwarts.

And next, Snape was kneeling in Sirius’s old bedroom. Tears were dripping from the end of his hooked nose as he read the old letter from Lily. The second page carried only a few words:

‘…could ever have been friends with Gellert Grindelwald. I think her mind’s going, personally!

‘Lots of love, Lily’

Snape took the page bearing Lily’s signature, and her love, and tucked it inside his robes. Then he ripped in two the photograph he was also holding, so that he kept the part from which Lily laughed, throwing the portion showing James and Harry back onto the floor, under the chest of drawers…

(Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, chapter 33)*

Now read that last part one more time.

Snape took the page bearing Lily’s signature, and her love, and tucked it inside his robes. Then he ripped in two the photograph he was also holding, so that he kept the part from which Lily laughed…

By reading this section of the book, it should be clear that there was more to Snape’s feelings for Lily than a simple crush.  Snape was fanatical, even to the point that, as a grown man, he would tuck Lily’s signature into his robes and rip her family’s photo apart in order to keep part of her for himself.
This was an incredibly unhealthy attraction, and the effects were clearly evident throughout the book series.  Snape may have been one of the good guys, and he may have done some noble things in his lifetime, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that he constantly exhibited both verbal and physical cruelty toward the students at Hogwarts because of his feelings.  Snape’s love for Lily and his fantasy of being in a romantic relationship with her drove him to do some very unkind things.

This is just one example of what it looks like to chase after a fantasy, and this has been my problem for the past five months.  This is why I haven’t posted on this blog all semester, why I have watched too many YouTube videos, and why little growth has occurred in my spiritual walk for a while now.  This is all to say that I should have been working the land and investing in my spiritual growth because the Bible tells me to.

For instance, take a look at this verse.

What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ…

Philippians 3:8

The most valuable, worthwhile thing I can do is to know Christ.  Everything else—every time I invest in things like entertainment when I know I should be doing something else that will help me to love God more—is simply garbage, because, although it can be fun, it’s not going to do me much good in the long run and could lead to many negative side effects.  It certainly lead to junk in my life this last semester, like procrastination, anger, and impatience. This is why I need to strive to be like the believer exemplified in the following verse.

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.

2 Corinthians 2:14

I want to be more like this.  I want to be led by Christ, captivated by him and living triumphantly.  I want to learn how to work the land, rather than chasing fantasies, so I can spread the appeal of his aroma wherever I go, because that’s what I need to do (as shown in Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 1:8).  And how can I spread that aroma when I’m so focused on the things that don’t really matter?  I have to focus “on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2) so I can truly grow and spread his fragrance.

With that being said, I need to make it more of a priority to work my land.  It’s going to be hard, especially because it’s summer break for me now, but I want to spend more time in the Word and in prayer, and less time in entertainment.  I want to cut back on the stuff that doesn’t really matter.  After all, refusing to run after pointless dreams any longer may lead to a few trials, but it will most definitely lead to growth.  (And maybe it’ll lead to fewer guilt-ridden blog posts).

So here’s to working the land.  Here’s to knowing Christ.  And here’s to saying “goodbye” to the fantasies that can only hold us back.

 

——

 

*Copied from http://readfreeonline.net/OnlineBooks/Harry_Potter_and_the_Deathly_Hallows/Harry_Potter_and_the_Deathly_Hallows_33.html

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Alone Together

A Light in the Dark

I bestow upon you, reader, a brief and humble poem of my own creation! It’s a little different from what I usually post, but I hope you get something worthwhile from it. Enjoy!

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Alone Together

A single light shines among many alike,

The solitary heart feels and shifts and learns.

One mind fingers thoughts that were cherished in times long since past, or only days before,

By another being strangely similar, and intimately separate.

All watch as cars flash and people fleet, driving and living and doing what has already been done, yet

Few remember that all shine together, that

Every light emits its essence from the root, from the base which has given what we mindlessly accept.

This light, this feeling, these thoughts, this essence and emotion,

Comes from a giver called higher power, intelligent being, creator, who made these things that

Cling to one soul and the next and every other.

Easy enough to forget, our distant unity is idolized in strife, and pushed aside

When we choose to believe there is no other path, but to be alone,

Producing inside a dark virus, a web of depression and sickness, sewing feet to soil and coating eyes with plaster,

Blinding a servant to the truth of existence.

“Worthless” and “scum” and “stupid” are sewn over the face of those diseased, forever to remain until

Ripped away by the surgeon who placed within what we often come to hate, reminding us of beauty, and gently whispering

Of the unique stamped on every seeker, of the irony of the likeness we share.

A paradox of an alien kind speaks of fellowship and purpose, revealing an unsolvable and acceptable mystery to all,

To all who live in isolation and traffic,

To all who live alone together.

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Similar to Weaving, a poem that I posted a while back, I have a few questions for you to consider:

Are you reminded of any geeky characters or stories?

I am reminded of both Harry Potter and Aragorn (from The Lord of the Rings), along with many other heroes or heroines who often doubted themselves and who, at one point or another, felt they had to fight the battle alone.  Is it just me, or do we all think like that sometimes?

Does this have any spiritual significance to you?

I wrote this poem after considering a strange irony—the fact that we are all separate, living our own lives, and, yet, we all are intimately connected, all being created by the same God and possessing similar brains and bodies and emotions.  I love irony!

What are your thoughts?

Weaving

real roots

Mind if I deviate from my usual methods by sharing a poem that I wrote?

Great!

Weaving

Tendrils in roots and flexible wood

Weave forward with ferocity, timidity, strength.

Spring from an oft-slumbering, muddy

Mass of robbery and aspiration,

Whose hollow eyes, yet open, remain closed and

Glaze with fault, not seeing what they observe, or want to,

Driving writhing shoots into stubborn rocks and clumps, which

Hamper paths ahead, and streak

Journey-goers with fear, pain, regret.

Snaking worms struggle to form finite coherency and

Break the shell by dragging away the dirty crust.

Wriggle lengths farther than thought had once carried them,

Look back for the future, grasping and learning in

Slow increments of time.

Push through resilient soul and drudge, hoping to plant a

Seed and spring to life for their maker,

Erupting into leafy, sun-light sprinkled branches and

Spiny carvings for many to touch, break, admire,

Strive to bring worth to that which sent them forth, or

Illuminate the little buried somewhere hidden.

In a bright and ominous moment of agony and success, they may.

Tendrils weave forward in time.

Two questions:

Does this poem have any spiritual significance to you? If so, what?

I’ll be honest—I’m not sure I thought of God very much when I wrote this. However, that certainly doesn’t mean you can’t have gotten something out of it.

Do any fictional characters come to mind? If so, who and why?

I thought of Ron Weasley from the Harry Potter book series. Why? Well, being the youngest of six boys and the best friend of world-famous Harry, Ron must have felt a bit of what this poem expresses. In fact, I think proof of this is found in a few of the books, such as the fourth and the sixth.

What do you think?

Until the Very End

The Resurrection Stone

The Resurrection Stone

On a still evening not long ago, a thunderstorm erupted before me as I drove home from school. Pitch black were my surroundings, the only light being that of my car’s headlights. Lightening flashed repeatedly, splaying across the rumbling sky, and thunder roared menacingly. I’ll admit that I was scared, but I knew I had to keep going in order to reach the safety of my home.

I’m reminded of an event from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Having just discovered that he must die to save his friends and allies, Harry headed into the Forbidden Forest to allow his archenemy, Lord Voldemort, to take his life. He was terrified, but he moved forward anyway.

Just before Harry reached Voldemort, he used a powerful and magical device called the Resurrection Stone to speak to several deceased loved ones, including his mother (Lily), his father (James), his godfather (Sirius), and his teacher (Lupin). Read some of their conversation below:

A chilly breeze that seemed to emanate from the heart of the forest lifted the hair at Harry’s brow. He knew that they would not tell him to go, that it would have to be his decision.

“You’ll stay with me?”

“Until the very end,” said James.

“They won’t be able to see you?” asked Harry.

“We are part of you,” said Sirius. “Invisible to anyone else.”

Harry looked at his mother.

“Stay close to me,” he said quietly.

And he set off. The dementors’ chill did not overcome him; he passed through it with his companions, and they acted like Patronuses to him, and together they marched through the old trees that grew closely together, their branches tangled, their roots gnarled and twisted underfoot…Beside him, making scarcely a sound, walked James, Sirius, Lupin, and Lily, and their presence was his courage, and the reason he was able to keep putting one foot in front of the other.*

After talking to those he loved, Harry felt reassured and comforted. He relied on them, and they protected him, and it is clear that they were the only reason he reached his goal.

When I was driving through that storm, I was scared, so I talked to God. I told him I was worried and asked him for help, and I became less afraid. God comforted and protected me, and I soon arrived safely home.

When you drive through storms—whether they be treacherous or mild—remember that you are not alone. Remember that when you talk to God, telling him about your worries and asking for help, he will comfort and protect you. He may not dispel the storm, but he will never leave you, as proven through Scripture.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified…for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

(Deuteronomy 31: 6)

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

(Isaiah 41:10)

Word of advice, though—don’t rely on yourself, because, in some situations, God may be the only reason you make it. Trust me on that. I’m a prideful and independent person, and I tend to lean on my own strength. With that being said, it’s not hard to guess how often I fail, or how often God has to remind me to lean on him. I may never learn, and I will mess up a lot, but that’s okay, because he is always going to stick with me. And, brother or sister, he’s going to stick with you.

You’re going to drive through storms, if you haven’t already, and many of them will be fierce. Just remember this—his plans for you may let you down, but he will never let you go. He will stay with you—until the very end.

*Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. N.p.: Scholastic Inc., 2007. 700. Print.