Thursday, September 06, 2007

So I'm Here, Now What?

I give my first ever talk at an InterVarsity Large Group tonight with the hopes of providing a welcoming place for freshmen new to the college environment and of inviting them into God's transformational work at UNH. If you are the praying type, this all goes down around 7:30, so any prayers before then will receive great thanksgiving from your humble hack. Here's a snippet from what I hope comes out of my mouth tonight:

“So I’m here, now what?” It’s the question of the week. Somehow or another, you all got to this room, tonight. “So I’m here, now what?”

I cannot answer this question for you. At the moment, I cannot even answer it for myself. Quite a case of the blind leading the blind. What I can answer for you though is where InterVarsity is going, and I chose these words carefully because I do believe that we are, in fact, going somewhere. We are a Christian organization, and one of the biggest misconceptions of Christianity – both inside and outside of the church - is that it is a monument, a place to gather people who believe like us and think like us and look like us and just sit around and do stuff like wear halos, have no fun, “grow,” and be holy.

But this is not Christianity. Christianity is not a monument. It is a movement. And we here at InterVarsity are a part of that movement. Tonight, I want to respond to the question “So I’m here, now what?” with an invitation to you all to come along with us to where we are going.

I have recently become fascinated by the Greek myth of Sisyphus. According to lore, Sisyphus was an ancient king of the Greek city of Corinth. He was a wily man, known specifically for his deceitfulness and trickery. Tales range far and wide of how he seduced his niece, how he usurped his brother’s throne, how he betrayed the secrets entrusted to him by Zeus. My man Sisyphus was a rascal, a rogue, a rapscallion even, and this troubled the Greek gods to no end. When Sisyphus died, they decided to punish him for his life of deception. His fate: they condemned him to an eternity of rolling a huge boulder up a steep hill. Now, rolling a ball up a hill isn’t that bad. But here’s the kicker. Every time he neared the crest of the hill, the boulder would slip from his grasp and fall back to Ground Zero where he must begin again and again and again. . . . all with the same futile result. His eternal fate was frustration.

I have fallen in love with this story because, in times of transition such as now, life often feels like this to me, that I am pushing a huge boulder up to the top of a hill but each time I get close it merely falls back on top of me. I work hard all through high school to get to college – where I feel new, awkward, lonely even, left at the end of my labors asking the disappointing question, “So I’m here, now what?” I study for hours on end, rearranging my schedule and saying “No” to things I really want to do - only to bomb the midterm anyways. I spend weeks leaving everything I’ve ever known behind me and moving 900 miles from home all to realize that I’m here now, and I have no clue what I need to be doing - except pulling against the Yankees and eating Dunkin’ Donuts.

Life often feels like the boulder never crests the hill, despite my best efforts.

I tell that story as a point of contrast because the Kingdom of Jesus Christ is not like this. In fact, it is the exact opposite of this. If life sometimes seems to be a laborious and futile upward push of the boulder that never really accomplishes anything substantial, then the Kingdom of God is a snowball running downhill collecting us along its path and giving us purpose, progress, and peace. It is a bold, but tender, movement.

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at UNH is a part of this movement. We are going somewhere.


Jeff said...

well, at least you've got two things right:

Go Red Sox and Go Dunkin Donuts!

Esther said...

Good luck!! I'll be praying for you tonight. :-)

Tammy said...

I can think of few things more terrifying than addressing a room full of college students. I'll be praying for you.
Very good analogy too. I have to confess though, I often feel like that in my Christian life as well. Hmmm, perhaps it would be a lot easier to get up the hill if I just left the boulder behind.
One thing: I hope you are not really going to use the word "rapscallion."

Tasha said...

Love it! Good luck tonight and you're in my prayers!

Alex said...

hope all went well, my friend!

His Little Joy said...

Hope your very first talk as an official IV STAFF WORKER (!!!) went well! I was praying for you and I can't wait to hear all about it.

On another note, you probably know that while the game was intense, JMU won their rightful victory and so I win our bet! However, I'm thinking since donors aren't even in your control, I think you should just send me some Dunkin' Donuts. Strawberry Frosted please. :)

Liz Hundley said...

ben! i didn't know you were on staff with IV now. that's awesome. thinking back to the times you MCed large group and such, i can see how this is a good fit for you. ("we're a community of people who loves UNC's campus because God does" still rings in my ears...haha) many blessings, friend! i will definitely be praying for you and the group at UNH this year!

Anonymous said...

new blog time!

here i am now... entertain me

Holly Geiger said...

Ben! I hope things went well last Thursday!!!
I miss seeing your face. The last time I saw it was in Target and you were eating popcorn with Ellen, remember that?

Yay, your blog makes me smile. :)

Molly said...

So, this is for all of you who didn't get to sit in the room the night Ben gave this talk (and for all of you who bother to scroll to the end of the comments):

Ben's talk was GREAT. I'm a senior at UNH (aka, I've been around a long time), and I walked away from Ben's talk thinking "Sign me up for this God/IV thing!"

Oh, and hi to you Ben...Corinne found your blog last April. We really like your stuff. And I love the title.


Wilson said...

Its been 17 days since you blogged...that's a problem.

Jeff said...

Ben would like to announce his retirement from blogging.
It's been a fun ride, and he considers himself the luckiest man alive.
Look for the greatest hits collection in 2008 at your local Jack in the Box.