Sunday, November 09, 2008
I understand?!!! I stopped mid-sentence. I understand? Was God of the Universe trying to tell me that He understands? I stepped out of my little puddle of self-pity and pondered the two simple words. The “I” of the Word of God, the great I AM who not only spoke the world into existence but went through the trouble of enlisting dozens of willing and unwilling individuals over a period that spans centuries in order to give us, to write down for us the heart of His very heart and the mind of His very mind so that the most misunderstood living Person can reveal Himself to us and as a result rebuild, fortify and expand our friendship. He meticulously chose not only what to say but also how to say it so we can know Him – know Him as He truly is, not as we project Him to be – making Him a conglomeration of our own prejudices, limitations and hurts. Then He sends off the letter. And He waits. And waits. And waits. We may politely acknowledge the receipt and periodically skim over the words, too busy, too preoccupied to connect with the heart of the Author. Feeling misunderstood still?
My droplet of grief merged with the ocean of love and sorrow.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Sometimes I think, I don’t like this plant in my garden. I’ll pull it up and put something else in its place. I’ll do all I can to ensure this will grow here and this won’t.
I have a vision for my garden, what it should, or shouldn’t be. But God, in His infinite wisdom, love and mercy messes up my landscaping dream and causes the blooms of His own desire and design. Should I not rejoice in them and receive from His hand the unexpected, even the unwanted? Isn’t both the garden and those who tend it His own to do as He pleases – by His unrivaled yet mysterious hand creating beauty and hope out of what brings me disappointment and frustration? So, I look at the brilliant faces of the audacious rebels and ask myself if I should redouble my effort in stomping them out, refusing the joy because I haven't chosen them? Or do I yield to their beauty and surrender to the unseen hand carrying out purposes which are so much bigger than my little patch of land and the scrupulous strategies I diligently apply to protect it.
Sunday, November 02, 2008
The Pandora’s Box of current political turmoil flew open and its contents exploded into our faces.
What do you mean?!!!! Exclaimed Caleb who I'd thought had remained largely ignorant of the impassioned debates of this election season. His simple black-and-white world was splashed with the brilliant colors of conflicting emotions. My mom, my sister and I are voting for Obama! Then he added, My dad is voting for McCain. His shocking pronouncement reverberated through the civic-conscious parts of our group of trick-or-treaters.
This is the first time that Nathan and Caleb disagreed on anything. Their shared passion for Legos, Star Wars and harassment of their baby sisters has fueled their extraordinarily harmonious relationship since the day they set eyes on each other. My husband was mortified. I was both mortified and found the situation quite hilarious. Our friends were mildly bewildered. They looked at me. I guess there was an unspoken assumption that we all agree, if not on everything, then at least on the choice of the candidate. My own personal wrestling with the decision as well as the process have remained largely …well - personal. I clarified Caleb’s statement by saying that I am still undecided. We couldn’t really engage in a deeper conversation about my own grappling with this year’s elections. I wasn’t too concerned about this, knowing that our friendship, love, appreciation and respect for each other would carry us through even the most turbulent waters of current politics. However I was concerned about Caleb and Nathan’s launch out of the honeymoon phase of their David-and-Jonathan friendship into a bumpy political landing.
When we returned to the house I called Nathan, who is a bit older, to me and said, Nathan, how are you and Caleb going to solve this Obama-McCain deal? He shook his head dejectedly, a worried look all over his face. I may have an idea, I said and bent over, whispering in his ear, You just love each other, honey. You keep loving each other. When the time came for us to say our good byes, Caleb and Nathan hugged each other with this inseparable, crack-each-other’s-ribs looong hug. The next morning I asked Caleb the same question I asked Nathan the previous night. I think we already solved it, Mom, he said, We already solved it.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away. Genesis 5:24
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light Ephesians 5:8
To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps. I Peter 2:21
Saturday, October 04, 2008
How’s your garden?
My garden? How’s my garden?... How IS my garden?!!
Coming from anybody else the simple question would have unleashed an avalanche of guilty excuses, a flimsy attempt to justify my wobbling priorities. But from my dad… Not only do my dad and I share a passion for outdoor activities, gardening especially, but he also loves me and knows me, since I am his daughter. His question was a form of thermometer, a loving check if I am taking proper care of myself as I am busy caring for the whole world and a few universes beyond.
In the garden I am in touch (literally!) with the dust from which I was made, an amazing and humble reminder of who I am and who I am not. Its patient ways of endurance, the dynamics of its constants and ongoing changes, its setting in the larger context of the sky above and beautiful (albeit weed ridden!) earth below have a way of freeing me (at least temporarily) from my dogmatism, pettiness and steam-roller intensity, making me an altogether more pleasant person to be around. Being hard-working introvert like my dad, time alone to think and work, ponder and sweat is an absolute necessity, right up there with food and water and rest. Over the years, we have spent many hours working together or side by side, weeding and pruning, uprooting and planting, marveling at the amazing world around us and relishing each other’s company. Knowing all this, my dad’s question wasn’t surprising and yet, in another sense, it did catch me off guard since it’s been… what?... maybe months, that I actually worked in the garden, other than fulfilling my civic duty of every-other-week mowing of the front lawn (the back yard getting not nearly as much attention!). Have I not known my dad’s heart and his love for me (more than my garden!), I would have felt enormously guilty.
Aaah, my garden… I replied with a chuckle. It looks great considering the amount of time I spend… or rather, not spend in it.
I don’t know if it was a quiet conviction of his caring question or a faint memory of why I actually enjoy being in the garden, getting dirty and sweaty, but this morning I decided that I need my garden as much as my garden needs me. So, I put on my grubby clothes and got out there to get an accurate assessment of the current condition. I started out with the parts that are obvious, and generally kept in decent order. Not bad, not bad… I thought with relief. Then I moved further to the right and further to the left and what I found was a mess! Over the past couple of months, many plants have died and many have clearly suffered from neglect, disease and extreme summer weather. Everything, I mean, everything was covered in encyclopedia-worthy assortment of weeds, some several feet tall. I thought of my sunny report to my dad and laughed at my optimistic ignorance. If this is great, than I am Michael Phelps!
I plunged into work and reflection and as I worked the ground I couldn’t escape the glaring connections between the condition of my garden and condition of my soul. With each dig of the shovel sunken into dried up dirt, I could sense my heart’s soil loosening and losing its crusty shell under the gentle hand of the master Gardener who is also my Dad. It dawned on me that this peculiar and personal interaction the two of us have established amidst the dirt and the weeds of my garden has taken much deeper root in the heart of this city girl than she realized! I do need my garden as much (or more!) as my garden needs me – not to prove anything, or accomplish some work that will be evaluated and approved by my Father (or my father). I need the garden because over the years it has become a sanctuary, a place to think, process, pray, cry and listen to the One who created me and speaks this strange language of my earth-bound soul.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
What song is it, my dear?
It’s that song, We got the whole world in our hands, we got the whole wide world in our hands... I hate it. It’s not true.
Aaah, it’s a variation of that song, He’s got the whole world in His hands, isn’t it? I said and proceeded to sing the original version. He nodded enthusiastically and started singing with me. Then he said, See, that’s why I hate singing it in school. We don’t have the whole world in our hands, God does!
Chuckling on the inside to observe the frustrations of the prophet-in-training plaguing our entire gene pool, I pondered how to respond. In a split second I was immersed in my own dilemmas of being a follower of the Jesus way in a world that out of ignorance or arrogance rejects His way and establishes its own. I also remembered my own childhood when I cheerfully sang blatant communist propaganda rhymes to the tune of Ode to joy (of all things :-)!) without even realizing that there was a God-centered original that lost its core in the take-of.
Then I slowly but deliberately walked over to him, scooped him up into my arms and as I begun to tickle him and kiss him all over, I kept asking, In whose hands are you now? In whose hands are you?
Yours! He giggled and wiggled, And God’s, too!, I added. See, the whole world IS in God’s hands, but He has also given it to us, to love it and care for it under His guidance and provision. So, in a sense, both are true – the whole world is in God’s hands, but He also has given it to us so we can learn to care for it the way God intends. We don’t have to break the CD, or cry out, Foul! when we hear the distortion of His songs (although we may feel like doing it!). What we need to do is lovingly show what it is like to care for the little piece of God’s real estate entrusted to us, the part “we hold in our hands” not in our own but in God’s way.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Vacant adj. (from Latin vacare to be empty) 1. having nothing in it; devoid of contents; empty, void; 2. not filled or occupied; 3. not filled with activity or work; free; leisure
Getting away for a vacation this summer was like attempting to get off I-4 at the right exit during Friday afternoon bumper-to-bumper traffic. As June and July rolled into August, we kept missing one exit after another, moving further and further away from a chance to spend some valuable time together as a family while the off-ramp of the beginning of the school year was approaching us like a freight train. The main culprit for this congestion has been Doug’s work load which, rather than diminishing, exploded with the beginning of the summer. Twelve new language recordings of a recently produced movie Magdalena – Released from Shame started spinning on his plate like 12 miniature hurricanes, all ready to make a landfall in the early fall.
I felt a growing sense of urgency to step out of this crammed-up tunnel where we are (or at least we think we are) in charge into that Reality in which it is hilariously obvious that God is God and we are not - the spacious universe of empty and void where the Spirit of God can hover over the deep of our souls and speak again the Word of Life, re-creating and re-newing, enlarging and energizing our shriveled-up, tunnel-vision existence.
Against all hope, exactly one week before school started we loaded up the car and headed to Englewood, Florida where some dear friends graciously allowed us to use their trailer. Having resisted the internal pressure to jam-pack our time with all the fun and exhausting activities suitable for an average vacationing family, I still felt restless and unsettled upon our arrival. As we were unloading the junk from our car, I grumbled a prayer, There, God! Here we are. If You wish, show Yourself to us. We sure NEED it!
The next day we grabbed a handful of sand toys, PB&J sandwiches and some drinking water and trotted off to the beach. When we got there, we encountered no burning bush (although the sand was pretty hot under our feet) and no lightening or thunder (whew!). What I did notice was how BIG the beach was – much bigger than our kitchen or laundry room, our house or the back yard, or even the sprawling Campus Crusade for Christ Headquarters! It stretched out endlessly as far as you can see in both directions, and it offered (free of charge!) unlimited supply of sculpting material which, during the course of our vacation we formed into a giant sea turtle and a bona fide Florida Snowman :-). There were nesting grounds of sea turtles lovingly marked off with yellow tape triangles and hidden treasures of seashells, baby crabs and shark teeth buried all around!
There were no guards and no gates (at least not the kind of gates to keep people out). The only rule spelled out was Swim at Your Own Risk with a map of what to do if caught in a rip current. No No Diving, no No Running, not even Wear Your Swimsuit at All Times. But nothing could have prepared us for the shock of seeing six-foot foaming giants relentlessly pounding the shore which sent dread up and down our spines. For a while, we just stood there in the shallows, hopelessly trying to secure our footing in the constantly shifting sand. But, as we watched the bodysurfers and people on boogie-boards having a time of their lives, the dance of the ocean emerged, beckoning us to jump in. Within minutes we were completely won over by this wild beast, getting drenched again and again, seaweeds hanging over our heads, submerged and surrendered, going down and popping back up, going down again, following its intrinsic rhythm, dancing according to its beat. We were like newly hatched baby sea turtles who have struggled their way down the hot, dry sand to the refreshing home where they truly belong.
And even though we were so small in this all-encompassing vastness, it was as if our joy and the dance, our fear and surrender mattered immensely; as if at least some of the ocean’s many mysterious purposes were being fulfilled in this free interplay between its waves and both big and little children frolicking in the foamy hem of his garment. Of course, it is hard to have fun in the ocean standing at a safe distance on dry ground, trying to keep your hair from getting all messed up or even trying to keep your head above water. We have to let go, we have to get dunked, we have to get drenched. And in the dunking, in the drenching, the hard shell cracks and the new life of another baby sea turtle joins in the dance.
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
I must admit that while enjoying the fruit of the tree it didn’t even cross my mind to consider the intricate connections between the fruit in my mouth and the stem to which it was attached – which, in turn, was attached to the twig, attached to the branch, attached to the tree, attached to the root which, with its elaborate system of capillaries was attached to the loamy soil beneath – all this in just one direction. In the other and all around there was the Sun, the rain, the air; alterations in weather in their slow yearly rotations - the seasons, as we like to call them, which with their periods of growth and dormancy, blossoms and the harvest produce this amazing juicy feast – a delight to the eyes and the taste buds, a celebration of life and an excavation of joy laying dormant in seemingly simple, ordinary experiences.
The inescapable but often overlooked fact is that somebody must have planted and taken care of the tree with love and patience (and lots of hard work!) – pruned it in its season, maybe grafted in a better, more durable or blight-resistant variety, sprayed it against harmful insects and disease so that over a number of years the tree became not only a quiet fruit producing factory, but also a refuge from the heat; a home for the baby swallows; the place for the children to hang an old tire and swing around and around, their laughter bouncing off other trees in the orchard; a firm pillow to lean against while taking a Sunday afternoon nap in its shade; purifying lungs for the entire neighborhood; a quiet secret-keeper; an ever-present, non-judgmental confidant to the brokenhearted and despairing.
My ego-centric, consumerism-driven appetite saw none of this but the cherries – something created for sole purpose to satisfy Me and give Me pleasure. Somebody much wiser saw an entire universe of mysterious connections – fruit being just one (delightful nonetheless) by-product of this monument of grace and mercy.
From there my thoughts wandered into even more fascinating universe of God’s revealed Word and the cherry picking approach I so often have as I consume my pet verses and passages for my own pleasure, mindlessly spitting out pits on those who are passing by – twisting the meaning and misinterpreting the Author’s intent; misapplying the truth, carving the self-serving nugget out of God-purposed context, in a single motion amputating the word of God from the Person of the Triune-God and reducing His glorious majesty to a cherry-producing vending machine. As if this is not bad enough, more often than I care to admit I have participated in “bowls of cherries” parties where this cherry-picking practice as it relates to God’s word is perpetuated in the entire communities of those who are called by His Name. This approach may be understandable and permissible for those who are new to the life of grace, to the babies in Christ; but, to remain there indefinitely would mutilate beyond recognition the family resemblance the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit desire to manifest through our broken lives…the family likeness that would transform our self-serving existence into a nesting ground for the swallows… a faithful branch attached to the Tree of Life, on which carefree children could clamber up without fear and thoughtlessly pluck out soul-satisfying cherries, oblivious to the wondrous universe all around.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Then I remembered something… About two weeks ago, as I was mowing the lawn, I noticed with creepy-crawly disgust of an anti-bacterial-soap sanitized urban girl that there were dozens of hideous, dangerous looking maggots inching their way up our house. I was too tired and too scared to walk over to the garage and pull out the most powerful insect killer and counter-assault this invading army, so I let them be. Who would have thought that something so ugly can turn into something so exquisite?
As I looked around I noticed hundreds more caterpillars diligently munching away on our neighbor’s Passiflora incarnata cascading over the fence into our backyard. But this time, rather than being disgusted by the ‘maggots’ I thought, Munch away, little butterflies, munch away…
So often when confronted with unsightly features of the people-maggots ‘in-the-process’ – the metamorphosis – of turning into butterflies, I quickly reach for the human version of the most powerful insecticide that's handy. How impatient and destructive I can be towards these 'pests', proudly oblivious of the glorious processes at work all around me in the butterfly garden of this life. Then, I think of even more glorious transformation of the horrid, life-annihilating cross of Christ, which became the door, the only door to Life, life indeed. If God can do something so magnificent through the death of His Son, how much more should I trust Him with lesser nuisances that show up on the threshold of my life?
Maybe next time I see the prickly wormish-looking creature around my house or in the street, I need to ask myself What kind of glorious winged being is he or she being transformed into even as he is polishing off my Asclepias syriaca. Or even better, How can I become a better host to these creatures by planting more caterpillar-attracting plants…a seedling of Truth, a grafting of hospitality, a sprig of delightful winsomeness of Jesus…and my whole life may become a feast for the hungry caterpillars on the way to becoming butterflies?… Maybe that’s what Jesus meant when he said, He who wants to save his life will lose it; but he who loses his life for My sake, shall save it.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
My plants don’t have my eyes (most of them don’t have eyes at all). They can’t see themselves (for better or for worse) or the way I see them fit in the particulars of our small plot of land located in the central part of the large peninsula called Florida dangling off the United States of America proper. They don’t even know how beautiful they are and the magical effect their simple existence can have on me and other lovers of beauty. The pain I inflict on them by cutting their healthy growth may not make much sense, but if they do surrender to the two laws of gardening - the law of death administered by my pruning shears and the law of life already active within them – the results can be quite astounding.
Like my plants, I acknowledge my need to surrender to the Gardener’s pruning tools and continue yielding myself to the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus active within me thus allowing the life-generating interaction of the two principles to have their full effect in me. The death and the cutting that I am experiencing now is not a random, indiscriminate or even angry outburst of impersonal fate or chance. It is an infinitely wise, skillful, loving hand of the master Gardener at work, cutting away what once was alive but now is dead, subduing the unruly outshoots of this proud overachiever, channeling the energy of many life-sapping directions and activities into just few. The pruning is never an end to itself. The pruning has its life-giving effect both for the plant in particular and for the unique, personalized design of the garden and how it fits with the lawn and the house, the patio and the swing, the street and the neighborhood, but most importantly with the owner of it all and his children. When God puts His surgical knife to a recurring thought process or activity, attitude or personality trait, ambition or drive all I see and feel is the pain, my pain! I don’t see how I may be blocking somebody’s view or access to the source of light, causing somebody to trip over, or damaging the roof on their house. I am blind to how my overgrown limb is casting a truth-thwarting shadow on the presence and activity of God in my brother's life. But Spirit of Jesus does – and His love for me as well as for my neighbor makes Him pick up that pruning knife and patiently, determinedly, lovingly cut away.
Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit. Gospel of John 15:2
Monday, July 21, 2008
You can’t watch Dora until we resolve the situation with your brother. Tell me what happened.
She proceeded to paint her picture of the incident, explaining how Caleb made a terrible mess and she told him to clean it up right away and he just wasn’t listening to her, so her foot plastered itself against his face. Voila! It was quite obvious she saw no other recourse but taking justice into her own hands.
This is not the first time that one of our children assumed the role of the parent and quickly executed what seemed to them an appropriate form of discipline to their straying sibling. I find it most peculiar that the moment they grasp a certain family rule (e.g. you make a mess, you clean it up) they naturally assume the right and the authority to enforce its rigid implementation. To say that they may have understood the letter of the law but completely miss the spirit of the lawgiver is a mild understatement. After hearing Tia’s side of the story I said to her:
In the law it is written,' An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth'. Applying it to this situation, it means An eye for an eye, a kick for a kick. So the just punishment for you would be that Caleb kicks you in the face.
Her face froze for an instant. She stared at me with horrified disbelief, her eyes x-raying my head back and forth as if to read my thoughts and detect whether she heard the words and understood their meaning correctly. I stared back at her with my best poker face, glad that she couldn’t read my mind and wondering if I was crazy to take this approach after all. But there was no turning back now. Seeing nothing but an expression of serious determination, Tia jumped off the bed and with righteous indignation cried out,
Then I would run away and hide, because it is not right to kick people in the face and it is better to use words.
My poker face started crumbling like an old cookie.
I am so glad you said that Tia, I chuckled. You are right, it is not good to kick people in the face and we need to use words. Why didn’t you do that in the first place – why did you choose force rather than words with your brother?
She was stumped. The two-edged sword of the living Word was slicing my little judge/jury/executioner as a purple onion . By your words you shall be justified, by your words you shall be condemned. My five-year old just experienced the head-on collision with Mount Sinai. The bewilderment over the seeming moral incongruence of the law lingered over her the rest of the afternoon, until her brother woke up from his nap, ready to take the witness stand in the ongoing family trial.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Thursday, July 03, 2008
God said nothing. I can’t think as long as my eye and face hurts.
That was a fair statement. In fact, part of me was shocked by his perception, awareness of limitations and, most of all, moral and spiritual honesty. We can’t think clearly when we are in pain. We can’t hear what God is saying when we are hurting as a result of somebody’s out of control behavior. We need to wait. Rest. Recover perspective. Then I asked him what he thought should be her punishment. (He asked the same question himself soon after the incident happened and we never addressed this aspect of execution of justice). He stopped for a second and said,
I already told you, I can’t think. I am in pain. I'll let you guys decide what would be fair.
I was taken aback by his implicit trust and surrender. He knew he was in pain. He knew his judgment was clouded as a result. So, he entrusted the judgment to us. He knows us well enough to believe that we would be more objective and fair in meeting out justice than he could be under the circumstances. How mature is that?!!!!! I think this is what Jesus meant when He said we need to become like little children. I need to let this lesson penetrate my mind and heart and dominate my decisions when I am in pain. When I hurt and want the justice executed quickly and preferably with some pain imposed on the offending party so they get to experience how it feels to hurt. Can I surrender my right to judge and my demand for the execution of justice to the all-knowing, all-loving God the Father and rest my case in His gracious, righteous and just hand? Or do I cling to my pain and proceed with execution of my justice by choking off life out of my opponent – no negotiation, no lessons and most importantly no life of the Spirit of God among us?
Monday, June 30, 2008
Last night I spent three hours with a friend, shoveling through the manure of our lives, getting neck-deep into things we don’t understand and don’t like about the way our marriages and our parenting is unfolding (and I would add, what those ugly facts reveal about us!). We talked about the out-of-control emotional outbursts, which, in reality, are only a shadow, a weak manifestation that barely scratches the surface of the hidden reality of deep-rooted passions and disappointments; about our desperate need to plunge that deep with Christ and seek to at least begin understanding this untameable, mysterious underworld. We talked about not judging - I even read Oswald Chamber’s entry for June 17, mainly focusing on not making measuring rods for other people because there is always one more thing that we don’t see and understand as we come to them in criticism and judgment. After she left, I kept wondering, What was this all about? What did we miss? There were a lot of raw emotions – anger, hurt, sadness, frustration, tears. The words that we shared, what was expressed was barely touching the tip of the iceberg of the subterranean world of our thoughts, feelings, motives, wounds of the past, stabs of the present … We spent a fair amount of time talking to Jesus about all this. The prayer unfolded as a rushing river taking direction all of its own, the waves of the eternal truth of the eternal redemption, complete forgiveness in the Messiah and Spirit-empowered life splashing over us. Nevertheless, we were still left helpless and frustrated with all this burden of knowledge (partial as it was) to crush us under its weight. Then this morning it dawned on me that we never came to the place I have visited many times myself when found in the similar situations. The place where the Holy Spirit imparts knowledge as power. (This is the quote I was wrecking my brain to remember last night but couldn’t; this morning it came to me effortlessly!) The place where this crushing, frustrating burden (I see people like trees…) is transformed into fertile soil of personal spiritual growth (I see everything clearly) Because that’s where the empowerment has to come – it’s not about God changing other people to conform them to my image, to my idea or ideal of what they should be like, but letting God be as creative and unique and unrepeatable and patient and persevering with them as He is with me. We dug a little bit around the roots, but we were digging around the wrong tree, and we were not digging deep enough! We stopped one step too short. We dipped our toes into the ocean, but didn’t jump in and allow the ocean to wash over us and then pop us back up with its own inherent power and laws. God uses these excruciating experiences of our lives as a powerful mirror to show us what we are like to Him all the time. He invites us to soak up, drink up, dive in to the crud of life, experience the dredge of emotions we try to avoid, deny, suppress, justify, dress up with our own rationalizations instead of standing naked before Him and crying out, God, I am naked and in pain. I hurt and I am angry. Show me what You want me to take away from this! (which is just a different way of saying, God, be merciful to me, a sinner! But, by choosing to indulge in all these luxuries of Self (or rather, not refusing to indulge) we are cutting off the root from the plant, and consequently the vitality and intricate connections of Life itself wither in us and we die. But, if indeed I refuse my right to Self, if I come to Jesus and stand before Him, naked and hurt, and remain standing in His presence, not refusing the Father’s cup, the bitter gall is slowly but surely transformed into life-giving nectar. I know I am capable of the same atrocities I so passionately see and condemn in others. I’ve done them many times myself. But now, but
Stripes that wound scour away evil, and strokes reach the innermost parts Proverbs
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Suddenly, my daughter gets up from her chair, walks over to the TV and shuts it off. I stare at her utterly confused, wondering what in the world she was doing. The movie is not over yet. The best part is yet to come. This is not how it ends. Then it dawns on me, She doesn't know how the story ends! She must be thinking, 'Snowhite is dead, and that's the end of the story'. It's time to shut off the TV and move on to something else.
Then I think of all the people who feel the same way about Jesus. Too bad, a good guy died. It wasn't fair, but that's the end of the story. Let's flip the channel, move on to the next thing.
But, that's not how the story ends. That's not the last page of the script. He is not on the cross. He is not in the grave. He is alive, as alive and accessible to us today as He was to Mary and the disciples on that extraordinary Sunday morning. Will I come to Him? Will I keep coming, each day? Or do I keep living like He is still in the tomb, shutting off the unveiling of the story before I heard how it really ends?
But, then, suddenly another layer appears, catapulting me into to the present - the here and the now - and asks the same question: Whose charade am I unwittingly playing my little part here, now? If I allow for the distance of time (or rather, eternity) to set me on a more objective ground, and looking back to my life right now, will I feel as ashamed and stupid for being so naive today in unquestioningly following the cultural and social cues, the modern day religious "in" crowd, playing my little part in somebody else's grand charade? Or do I look to my cues to Somebody else, even if it means I dance alone, looking very much like a lonely fool today, but, later, maybe... not so foolish in the end.
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
A friend of mine recently caught a water moccasin, one of the few venomous snakes living in
Thursday, May 01, 2008
I was completely taken aback because it is quite obvious that in our garden there is hardly anything else to see but the weeds.
I get so lost in the battle and the weeds that I become blind to the glory all around me - the miracle packed reality hidden to the driven, preoccupied, inattentive eye.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Mom, see, I built God's temple. And I also drew a picture of it. I was taken aback by this display of architectural and constructive abilities of my 4 year old. Yes, the building and the drawing were simple, but the drawing was an accurate representation of the original. I thought of Moses and the Tabernacle.
We need people now! she announced as she turned to her brother:
May I have all your Lego mens? she asked. I need a lot of people to fill God's temple. Together they raced back into his room and came back triumphant, carrying a dozen or so of the little plastic figurines. The evil Patrick was among them.
Hey, you can't let Patrick into the church. He is the bad guy! cried out my black-and-white world son.
But God can change his heart. We need to let him into the church! my redeemed-by-grace daughter protested passionately as she carefully made room for Patrick inside the Lego crowd filling up the church.
The agony on my son's face begged for clarity and resolution.
Is God going to change Patrick's heart, Mom?
I don't know, my dear. I answered. I don't know. But, we need to let Patrick in. We need to let him in.
They are VERY different, you know, she frowns.
How's so? I ask looking in the rear-view mirror.
Well, this one has white ears with black spots and this one has black ears.
Oh, wow! I never noticed that before. Paying attention to details is definitely not my strong suit.
Oh, yes! she continues on. Also, this one has an American flag, which means that she comes from America, and this one doesn't. After a short break she concludes with a sigh,
They are very different, but they still love each other very much.
And why is that? I wonder what love's got to do with it.
Because they both have the same red collar, she answers simply.
Now, that makes perfect sense to me, I laugh to myself at the irrational logic of this unlikely cause of affection. And then it dawns on me,
Well, of course! Even though they are so different or, rather, may appear to be despite the fact that in reality they are very much alike, they have the same collar. Which means, they have the same Owner and Master. And having the same Owner and Master should make them love each other despite their differences.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. I John 4:7,8