Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Niggles--Wesley Foundation E-Letter (Methodist Campus Ministry)

Dear Friends,


Hope you are all doing well on this cold snowy morning!  It’s slick out there, so be careful walking to class.  It will be so nice once spring comes!  Here are a few announcements about stuff coming up:


Warm Fuzzy Outreach:  Obviously not happening today with the snow.  We will decide what to do tonight at worship and explore the possibility of doing it inside later on in the week. 


WORSHIP TONIGHT!!!!  We are still on at 6:30pm.  Tonight we will be looking at faith and what it looks like in our lives.  We will be answering the “Who” question.  Every experience of faith has a focus—what’s yours?


THURSDAY NIGHT:  Food @ 6:30pm.  Then program.  Yes, we will be reviving the Warm Fuzzy Tale.  For those of you who have never heard it, you are in for a treat.  Apparently it is quite funny, while having a good message as well.


SPRING BREAK DEPOSIT:  If you are going on our Spring Break Mission Trip I need a verbal confirmation this Thursday and a $50 deposit by next Tuesday.  Again, our trip is to do hurricane relief in Louisiana March 6-12.  Total cost is $200.


VERITAS, CAMPUS WIDE EVENT:  Next Tuesday night at 7:30pm at Garrett.  We will meet here at 7pm and walk over together.  This is an awesome event involving all of the campus ministries at WKU.  It is also a great opportunity to bring up the subject of faith with someone who doesn’t really believe, but who is curious from an intellectual standpoint.  It is a great discussion starter.


Now For Sami’s Ramblings About Jesus:


You know when something catches your attention and won’t leave you alone until you really pay attention to it?  It’s like it stays at just the edges of your consciousness, never quite going away.  It sits in your heart and mind, like a shadow cast from an unknown object, like the buzzing of an unseen bee.  You can sense its presence without pinpointing its origin.  In a word, it niggles.


What a cool word is that!? I used that word one night in a lesson at Wesley and the students looked at me like I had lost my marbles.  But I LOVE that word, because it describes what happens when a thought plays hide and seek with our recognition; it is really an invitation to something more, something deeper, disguised as a riddle.  It niggles.


Last Thursday night I attended the “Celebration of Life” service for our dear friend Lonnie, who went to be home with the Lord early last week.  In the course of his service one of the pastors read a passage from the gospel of John.  As I listened and followed along in my Bible a sentence caught my attention and all weekend niggled at me:  “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not let them be afraid” (John 14:27).  I have heard and seen that verse many times, but last Thursday night something about that verse struck me in a way it never had before.  I think it was implication and invitation.  Let me explain.  In this chapter of John, Jesus is speaking to His disciples shortly before His death.  He is telling them many things which will take place in the days to come.  He senses the difficulty they have in hearing it, and in the midst of compassionate words of comfort He tells them to not give themselves over to troubled-ness and fear.  It is as if He is saying, “you are the gate-keeper here.  Only you can decide whether these elements have access to your heart.  But by the way, they don’t automatically get access.  That is something only you provide.”  The implication is that we allow our hearts to be troubled and fearful when we don’t have to.  The invitation is to choose differently, to carefully guard the gate of hearts and not let those things in.  At the niggling continued, I was intrigued.


This morning I decided to dig deeper.  My search led me to really try to understand the original meaning of the words used, to see if there were treasures hidden in the Greek.  I began with the word “troubled.”  The original Greek word is tarassestho  which means “to stir or agitate (roil water), to trouble”.  It is a present (happening right now) passive (subject is receiving the action of the verb) imperitive (expressing a command or request, Jesus asking us to not allow the troubling) verb.  What really got me is that there is someone outside of us who is doing the troubling.  We are the objects of someone else’s stirring or agitating.  We are definitely getting trouble, not as a noun (as in random difficulty), not as an adjective (that describes how we see an event or thing that happens), but as in a verb (we’re being messed with!).  The implication is that we have an enemy that is actively working to keep our emotions stirred up.  The good news in this realization is that this troubling definitely has a source outside of us.  So many times it seems as if our anxiety is something that originates from within.  Those pesky areas of upset just always seem so personal to us, and so imbedded in who we are that it feels impossible to escape those tormenting worries.  But in fact we are being troubled from the outside.  The enemy will purposefully thrust certain details into our attention as a way to agitate and stir us up, to keep us in unrest.  Just recognizing that somehow takes the enemy’s power away.  It’s like when siblings push each other’s buttons.  Once we understand the tactic, we can ignore it and go on.  Jesus seems to be saying just that:  “Ignore it; go on.”


But that is much easier said than done.  Which leads to the next word worth pondering:  “be afraid” or deliato in Greek.  It means “to be cowardly, to be timid, to be afraid.”  It is a present (happening right now) active (subject is performing the action of the verb) imperitive (expressing a command or request, Jesus asking us to stop being scared) verb. The distinction this time is that the subject, instead of being acted upon is now doing the acting.  It is as if we experience the troubling that comes from an outside source and our internal response is fear, which is exactly what the enemy is intent on stirring up.  Instead of ignoring the agitation, we focus on it and come into (walk into) a state of fear because of it.  It takes up residence within us and we actively participate in making it bigger.  This tweeks my first impression.  It isn’t that we allow fear into our heart.  It’s that our heart chooses fear as a response to whatever is stimulating it (thus making the original agitation much bigger than it is, and giving it so much more power than it has).  Not only is Jesus suggesting that we ignore the original agitation, He is also saying that we can choose a different response.  Instead of buying into the enemy’s illusion that the trouble we are experiencing is bigger than we are and bigger than God, we can rather focus our hearts on God, remembering His might, His past faithfulness, His ever-present goodness, His current presence. When our attention is focused on our fear  we don’t have room to look for God’s perspective.  But when we focus our hearts on God’s heart and perspective, we no longer have room for fear.


So how do we do this?  Jesus says to us, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you” (John 14:27).  The word for “peace” in the Greek is eirenen.  It means “one, peace, quietness, rest.”  Jesus is saying that He is giving us (from didome: bestowing upon us, committing and delivering to us) the very rest and quietness from within His own soul.  Before He ever suggests that we can disallow the trouble and fear that reside in our hearts, He invites us to give space to something else; He is offering us the undisturbed nature of Himself as the antidote to the unrest that our enemy would cause.  What is amazing to me is that Webster’s defines antidote (a derivative of the Latin anti, against, and the Greek word diddonai, to give) as 1) a remedy to counteract a poison and 2) anything that works against an evil or unwanted condition.  As we allow the quietness, rest and peace of Christ to dwell within us, there is no longer any room for anything else.  His peace within us cannot be troubled, and He cannot be afraid. And so too as we are one with Him, neither can we.


I don’t know how else to experience this but to love Him, spend time with Him, especially to praise and worship Him, to surround myself with people who help me do this.  When I am filled up with Him it leaves no room for the enemy.  When I am distracted or when I allow my attention to be troubled by well-known triggers, I am allowing myself to be left wide open to the enemy who delights in agitating my fears, stirring them up, until they take on a life of their own.  Jesus seems to be saying to my heart that I don’t even have to open that door.  I can slam it shut at the first hint of agitation.  And you can too.  This niggles for you!


This is me trusting,





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Sami Wilson

Campus Minister/Director

WKU Wesley Foundation

United Methodist Campus Ministry




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