The Starving Activist is the sometimes-home for words. AR Neal (that’s me) finds them, cultivates them, and leaves them here. Enjoy.

Haboob Manifesto, Pt. 1: Destiny

Haboob: quit giggling--the word is Arabic in origin and refers to severe and sudden dust storms that pop up in arid areas (here is video of a very dangerous one in Arizona this past summer...)[youtube=]Manifesto: basically, a commentary on a stance in the life of the creator of said commentary...This diatribe, likely akin to an abrupt but dangerous storm, will occur in multiple parts (cue "Outer Limits" theme music).Today's atmospheric disturbance was initiated by a spiritual irritant known as a sermon. The topic was related to destiny--we each have one, and are we living it, or moving toward it. The deal is, often we mess up because we try to run from the destiny created for us. The sermon was taken from the Bible, specifically Luke 1:1-36. The interesting part was Mary's reaction to having an angel show up and announce that she, a virgin, would get pregnant and give birth to the Son of God.As the speaker of the hour suggested, take a moment to consider the time and place of the situation at hand:

  • Young betrothed woman, minding her own business
  • Angel appears
  • Angels says, "Guess what? You are going to get pregnant and have a baby with God! Awesome, right?"
  • Mary asks, "Come again? You know I'm a virgin, right?" (thought bubble in background projects visions of young betrothed woman being ostracized by her family, by her husband-to-be's family, and ultimately getting stoned to death outside the city gate...that is what happened at that point in history when a woman who was promised to be married popped up preggers).
  • Angel says, "No worries, little sis; this thing is ordained by God himself. Your baby will be a Wonder among Wonders" (actually, this is what the Angel said: see v. 35).

Now, I would suspect that if anything even remotely close to this ever happened to any of us (ladies--any of you visited by an angel of God and fellas--any of your girlfriends or fiance's popping up preggers and informing you that they had gotten that way by an overshadowing of the Holy Spirit), we would probably go bonkers. Right then. Straight, no chaser.However, Mary takes a different attitude. She says to the Angel: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.Yep, girlfriend goes along with the playbook. She brings all this back to her husband-to-be, Joseph. He also goes along with the playbook. Baby is born, gets named Jesus, miracles occur, a faith ensues, and here we are today, still talking about it.The point of the sermon was that often God will provide us with a destiny that we want to take to the Return Line, saying, "Oh, You must have made a mistake here; this can't be what You want for me." However, Luke 1:37 states that nothing is impossible for God, meaning that whatever the gift is that we got, He meant for us to have.The pastor put it like this:Sometimes God gives us the very best gift, wrapped in not-so-great wrappings, so we want to return it because we are so focused on the outside of it.He went on to quote 1 Corinthians 10:13, which is often taken out of context to suggest that God will not give us more than we can bear; I had people quote that verse when my son was born prematurely, when my first husband died suddenly, and at all sorts of other essentially inappropriate times. Here's what it says:No temptation has overtaken you that is unusual for human beings. But God is faithful, and he will not allow you to be tempted beyond your strength. Instead, along with the temptation he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to endure it. (International Standard Version)So yes, there will be tough times in life, but God will be there and while He may not give us a "get out of tough times free" card, He will provide comfort, solutions, other folks (support), or some other stuff so we can get through it.Back to destiny.If we are supposed to do a thing, if we are supposed to kick, scratch, cry, fuss, and generally have a miserable time at some point during our journey, there will be a reward at the end of it. And by end I don't mean when we die, so stop rolling your eyes. I mean that when we are in a place to receive the gift that is our destiny, there is a reward. BUT we have to go through whatever it is to get there. The pastor told the story of Sundiata, a Mali hero, who against all odds (and I mean, all odds...) defeated an undefeatable enemy and reclaimed honor for his country. It's a deep story.But what if we don't kick, scratch, cry, fuss, and generally have a miserable time? What if we turn tail and run?We most likely will not reap the rewards of destiny.The idea woke me up in the middle of the night and I realized that my struggles in life have not been in vain. Particularly those that came and I could not understand why.Know that your struggles are not in vain either. Don't give up. Keep fighting. Stand, against all odds like Sundiata, and claim your destiny.

Last Words

Reflections: It's All Relative