Monday, February 22, 2010

Divine Love

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
I John 4:8

Here is one of my journal entries during a retreat I went on this past weekend.  It was absolutely incredible!

We are all so surrounded by God and so many of us don’t even know; don’t even see it. We are all being pursued by this wonderful Mystery and Love is its Name. Whenever we open ourselves up to love—sincere, genuine, authentic love—we open ourselves up to God. God can be experienced in the other, in knowing the other, in trusting the other, in loving the other and being loved by the other. A simple smile between friends, a word of empathy and compassion, simply holding hands—God is in it all. There’s no separation between the secular and the sacred because it is all sacred: the alarm going off in the morning, the daily shower, the brushing of teeth and combing of hair, the time we spend commuting to work or school can become just as sacred as a prayer. Indeed they become sacred prayers themselves if we lift up those daily routine moments to God. The Incarnation didn’t just take place once. No, the Incarnation is taking place every single moment of every single day, transforming the secular into the sacred, infusing humanity with the divine.

The veil has been torn. The separation has been done away with. There is now only One Divine Life that we are all partakers of. The blade of grass, the human soul, the single-celled bacterium, we are all partakers of the One Divine Life. God is the space that makes existence possible, the space from which all life arises and the space is everywhere and around everything. God is the inescapable reality without and within, the Riddle, the Puzzle that can never be fully solved, the Mystery that is beautiful to behold, marvelous to ponder, wondrous to embrace, even if we can never fully grasp this Mystery, this Love with our limited understanding.

Love, Divine Love is all there really is. Every second is infused with Divine Love. Everything else is illusion, temporary distractions that are passing away: the suffering, pain, fear, separation—they are all momentary disintegrating distractions. We were all put here to experience this Divine Love and it is always with us. From Divine Love we’ve come and when this particular journey is over to Divine Love we will return because it never left us in the first place. It cannot be denied and it animates all life. We can ignore it or forget about it, which is so easy to do; it’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, but this Divine Love never leaves us, never leaves the human soul.

There is a Divine Voice within every human heart whispering, however softly, one word over and over and over again: love, love, love. When we hear this still small voice over and above all of the noisy illusions and distractions of life then and only then do we truly begin to live; we have passed over from death to life. We are set free from sin, and fear, especially the fear we have of ourselves. We have been born again into this Divine Love, to live in this Divine Love forever and ever and ever.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Acknowledging the Apathy Within

I can't do much to change the apathy I encounter in others; there are no guarantees at the least.  Only God can change the heart, but I can do something about the apathy I encounter in myself and boy have I been apathetic!  Without even knowing it I have lived a very selfish sinful American life.  From the moment I wake up in the morning I am consumed by thoughts of I.  What do I want to wear today?  Do I want to wear the red shirt or the dark blue?  What am I in the mood for?  What do I want to eat for breakfast?  What will I do for lunch?  Do I feel like having a panini or maybe I want a wrap?  What do I feel like doing after work?  What do I want to do this weekend?  I, I, I.  Selfishness has been embedded into my lifestyle.  I don't have a spouse.  I don't have any children.  I don't have any elderly parents who are dependent on me for care so from day-to-day I often don't think about how my decisions and the choices I make affect other people: the people around me and the people I'll never meet but who are affected by what I do nevertheless.

I am a very sheltered American and quite honestly I have lived a life divorced from the suffering of others.  I've been in a fog, largely thinking only of myself and the earthquake in Haiti changed all that.  I have been shaken by an earthquake that took place over a thousand miles away.  I have been shaken out of my apathy and for that I am grateful.  My eyes have been opened and the fog has been lifted.  To live a life unto oneself is to live a very small life indeed.  To live your life in such a way as if no one else exists, can that even be called living?  Jesus was never apathetic. He was constantly being moved with compassion by the suffering of others.  If I continue to live a selfish, sheltered, apathetic life as a Christian then who am I following really?  Can I even be called a Christian at all?

The earliest believers were called "Followers of the Way".  They weren't just known for what they believed but for how they lived their lives.  Today many of us have reduced Christianity to a set of personal beliefs about Jesus.  Quite frankly I don't care what your beliefs about Jesus are as much as I am concerned about how those beliefs change the way you go about living.  Hungry people aren't fed by our beliefs.  Suffering people aren't comforted by our nice thoughts about Jesus.  I think it's time for ALL of us to acknowledge the apathy within and to make a conscious decision to change the way we live our lives to better reflect the light and love of Christ.  If we do nothing about the apathy within then I believe that Jesus remains a stranger we have never met and we should just stop calling ourselves Christians altogether.

Following the Way,

Friday, February 5, 2010

Just Say Yes!

Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker...
Isaiah 45:9

The secret to having a stress-free relationship with God is to say yes the first time God asks you or leads you to do something.  It sounds very simple right, but I must be honest in admitting that it has taken me about 16 years to figure out this most basic of principles: say yes to God! 

I have a problem.  Now I know what you're thinking, "How is that possible for someone like me who has it all together to have a problem.  It's shocking I know, I know, but even someone like me has problems :)  I have a tendency to fight God. Now you're thinking; Oh Kevin you're right; that is a problem!"  But you're wrong; that's not the problem.  The problem isn't that I fight God, the real problem is that when I fight God I actually think I can win!  I'm not kidding.  There's a part of me that really believes that one of these days if I keep giving God a hard time I'm going to wear God out and God's going to say, "Whatever Kevin, I'm tired; you have worn me out.  You win this round".  And sometimes I'm just in shock that God hasn't done so yet.  What is God waiting for?  I mean really.  I've been putting up a pretty good fight for years!  In clinical terms my problem would accurately be called a patholgy!  It's insane to think that you can get God to "see things your way" and go along with your plan, but I doubt very strongly that I'm the only one suffering from this pathology.  Oh no!  This is a pathology that is running rampant throughout the world.  At times we actually believe that we know better than God!

A very wise woman by the name of Pastor Sonja once preached a sermon called "Just Do It!"  And the basic premise of her sermon was "Hey, when God tells you to do something; just do it!  It's pure genius: say yes to God the first time around and save yourself all the hassle of fighting with God.  "Your arms are too short to box with God", one of my favorite pastors likes to say and it's finally sinking through my thick skull.  I've worn myself out trying to convince God that my way really is better than whatever plan God's cooked up on his own without consulting me first by the way, ahem.  Now I'm the one saying, "Whatever you want Lord; I'm tired.  You have worn me out.  You win this round and there's not going to be a round two because even Kevin Vetiac isn't that crazy!"  My answer to God is Yes!  Yes! Yes!  Better late than never!

Following the Way,

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Shaken: Part 2

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying:

“ Whom shall I send,
And who will go for Us?”

Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”
Isaiah 6:8

My response to the devastation caused by the earthquake in Haiti and to the realization that I have lived a very selfish spoiled life is to say yes to whatever God may want me to do to help.  I no longer want to live a life that is divorced from the suffering of others.  The earthquake in Haiti has changed me forever.  I must use all that I have been given to help those who do not have as much, to be a voice for those who cannot speak, and an advocate for those who have none, to demonstrate the love of Christ that I have so richly experienced to others in need.

I believe that God has laid it upon my heart to leave everything behind and spend at least a year in Petit Goave, Haiti, the village where both of my parents are from, the village where my grandmother lived and died and is now buried, the village where my uncle now lives since his home in Port-au-Prince is damaged.  The village that up until now has been nothing more to me than "some place back there".  I don't know what I will find when I get there.  I will have to give up some things.  There are no Express clothing stores there, no Macy's, no Filene's, no Cheesecake Factory.  I won't be able to run to CVS and pick up some deodorant.  My God do the people over there even where deodorant???  Even if they don't (God help me) my response to God's prompting in my heart is "Yes!".  Yes I will go.  Yes I will serve.  Yes I will leave all of my comfort zones behind and follow Christ wherever He leads me.  Here am I, send me Lord!

My long-term goal is to build a US accredited school in Petit Goave, affectionately called Ti Goave that will allow Haitian students upon completion to attend college in US so that when they return to Haiti they will be equipped to take on key leadership positions and help turn their nation around.  I am recording another album and all of the profit from the CD sales will go to this endeavor.  I am naming my non-profit organization the Louise Amelie Edouard Education Foundation in honor of my grandmother who spent her whole life in Ti Goave and moved on from this life a few months ago.  I am honored and humbled that God would find me fit to be used for His service in such an endeavor.  I plan to leave for Haiti in September and I will bring lots of deodorant with me to share with EVERYONE I encounter :)

Following the Way,

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


The earthquake that shook me to my core took place 1640 miles away on Tuesday, January 12, 2010. I thought I was safe. I thought I was immune. I have never been to Haiti, never witnessed its poverty; never suffered its heat; never felt its hunger for justice, peace and food—always for food. The son of Haitian immigrants, I was one of the lucky ones, born and bred in the US; privileged, spoiled really, fascinated by reality television: American Idol, The Biggest Loser, Real World, Apprentice, Top Chef, Project Runway; you name it I’ve seen it. My life is—well it was—far removed from Port-au-Prince or Gonaives or Petit Goave, and then the earthquake hit and everything changed.

I have never been as affected by anything that has happened in Haiti as this earthquake. I have never cried so many tears for people I never had a chance to meet. My heart has been wrenched open and I have been shaken. Shaken by the bloated corpses rotting in the streets of Port-au-Prince amidst the wounded, the homeless, the hungry. Shaken by the wailing of mothers for the children they will never see again. Shaken by the mass graves dug into the mountainsides filled with thousands, thousands of bodies of people who most likely struggled their entire lives until their unexpected end.

I have been shaken out of my apathy, shaken out of my comfort zone, shaken out of my very American tendency to consume and always want more: more clothes, more gadgets, more stuff I’ll only get bored with rather quickly and shortly replace with more stuff.  I have been shaken, indeed the world has been shaken by the earthquake that struck the tiny island where the poorest country in the western hemisphere sits. What would God have me do in a time like this??? Whatever God may ask me to do my answer will be “Yes!". Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow.

Following the Way,

Monday, February 1, 2010

February's Theme: Saying Yes to God

I had a wonderful time in church yesterday!  I had been away from my home church for about a year and recently returned and it is so good to be back.  Indeed reconciliation is sweet and it's always good to be back home.  I'm so glad I listened to God and went back to my former church.  I don't always do that, listen to God that is.  I'll just be honest about it.  There is something deeply embedded within the human will and psyche that is resistant to submitting and being led.  This month my Scripture reflections will focus on the theme "Saying Yes to God".  I doubt very much that I'm the only one who's ever struggled with this one so let's journey together and learn to give God our "Yes".

Following the Way,