Thursday, April 23, 2015

One Size Doesn't Fit All






I spent a lot of time this week sorting through clothes in preparation for our annual no-money-exchanged, absolutely free office ‘garage sale’.

I know that some people cringe at the though of being caught wading through other people’s ‘junk’. Others absolutely love it.  As the saying goes, One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. 

I teeter between the two, having experienced the sharp edge at the ends of both extremes. But I digress…

We organized and sorted tops by S, M, L and XL.  This is where I learned that there is such a thing as a PS which are even smaller than S.  And XXXL is not the end of the clothing universe.   

As if the letter categorization isn’t complicated enough, some clothes are sized and sorted based on numbers. It took me years to figure out the relative sliding scale that morphs from chronological age for babies, children and teens into some arbitrary numeric designation for adults, which of course is different for men and women. I still struggle to wrap my mind around the fact that that there is size 0 or 1/2 for women’s bottoms... but I digress again…

Needless to say, there is much more to clothes than just the size.  There are billions of colors, materials, textures and styles that make a person like me absolutely overwhelmed. 

So many options! So many possibilities! 

And I didn't even mention shoes!!!

The variety is truly limitless.

But, it always boils down to one simple (or extravagant, fun, practical… ) outfit that I chose to wear at any given moment. An outfit that not only fits me but also fits the occasion and the need of the day. Something appropriate and often affected by external conditions like customs, culture and weather. 

Most days I don’t spend too much time mauling over this choice. I try to keep it simple, comfortable and relatively attractive.  I know what hangs in my closet and how to put it on. And even though my husband’s closet is just few feet away, I never help myself with what’s in there. I would never dream of knocking on my neighbor’s door in the morning expecting to help myself with the stuff from her closet?!!?

What we wear on the outside may be off the rack but it’s always personal.

What we wear on the inside may be universal but it’s still no less personal.

Each of us has a spiritual wardrobe at our full disposal every day.  This is where we clothe our souls so they don’t go running around butt-naked.  God’s Word is like our free office ‘garage sale’. It’s well stocked-up with most diverse and amazing getups.  But what is even more amazing is that He has something custom-designed to fit me for each particular day! It may not be lavish and eye-catching but it’s always deeply personal. Each morning I can dive in there with Him, dig through His hangers and ask Him to help me find something beautiful, appropriate and fitting that my soul gets to wear all day! 

Sadly, for some inexplicable reason I seem to prefer checking out the high fashion show of social media first. Then I try to squeeze myself into my friends’ wardrobes. They may look great but their stylish outfits rarely fit me. They only make me feel awkward, inadequate and self-conscious.

I must go digging through my own Closet and find what the Fashion Designer has custom-tailored for me today.

For in the matters of the heart, one size doesn’t fit all. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

You Can't Scramble Easter Eggs





It seems like all the pastel-colored glory of Easter faded into oblivion by late Wednesday of last week… or Thursday at the most.  

You guys don’t mind if I turn the Easter eggs into a salad? I ask nobody in particular.

But I don’t even like egg salad! I like my eggs scrambled!

Well, honey, you can’t scramble Easter eggs.

It's Monday morning I am faced with the same old problems and the same old struggles. I am grumpy and disappointed.

It’s not like I don’t believe it happened.

It’s more like I don’t know what I was expecting...

But, is it unreasonable to think...

that the incredible super-jazzed energy that raised the beat up and flogged; the half-dead-before-crucified; the three-days-dead-and-buried Jesus -

...is it too much to think that the incredible energy that not only raised this Jesus from the dead but also endowed His basic pre-resurrection body with these unbelievable post-resurrection powers....

... would make some change...

A fraction of a difference...

.... in this run-down life of mine?

A week... well, eight days ago… I think... and the story meanders into my mind, some may explain it as just a coincidence of timing. Plus, I admit I've been thinking of Tom a lot.

But something else rolls into focus, like an unexpected egg from the Easter Egg hunt, that you find a week later.

Eight days later, his disciples were again in the room.

This time Thomas was with them.

Jesus came through the locked doors, stood among them, and said,

"Peace to you."

Then he focused his attention on Thomas.

"Take your finger and examine my hands. Take your hand and stick it in my side….”

And this is where I stop.

Right at the place of Thomas’ curved finger inside the palm of His hand. 

Right at the place of Thomas’ shaky hand inside the scar on Jesus’ side.

Here’s Jesus, eight-days-fresh out of the tomb, donning His glorious resurrected body… perfect and flawless?

...

That's what we imagine.  That's what we want.  

That's what I want:

A flawless, scarless resurrected glory.

But that's not what we get. 

What we get is...

The scarred glory.

The pierced might.

I scratch my head, feeling  like my Easter eggs just got scrambled. 

I shake my head, feeling like my pastel-colored Easter glory just got a tattoo on its side. 

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Resurrection Party Re-run






Nobody knows why Tom missed the party.  

There were so many people it’s doubtful that anybody even noticed he was missing.The next day his Facebook news-feed was flooded with exciting pictures of beaming faces, great food and the surprise appearance of the real Easter bunny!  The silky-soft velveteen just like in the book. It was clear that everyone was enjoying themselves, having a blast, savoring like a piece of lemon-meringue pie, the taste of this incredible resurrection life. 

Everyone but him.

He scrolls down his friends’ status updates - blow-by-blow account of the party of the century - the sinking feeling in his stomach growing as he scans the posts.

He missed it! He missed the opportunity of a lifetime!

It’s that feeling when you want to kick yourself and then everyone else around you, for being left out. For missing the boat, for being left behind with no one, absolutely no one asking,

Where’s Tom anyway? Has anybody seen him?

All these years together, and nobody cares about Tom. 

Nobody misses him.

Suddenly he decides.

Fine.  I don’t believe it. I can’t.  I won’t. Perhaps somebody put something in the lemonade bowl, and you guys are all hallucinating. I need facts.  I need evidence.  I need some hard-core proof that this Jesus-rising-from-the-dead talk is for real. If you want to taste a pie, you have to stick your finger in it. What’s the use in just talking about the pie if you can’t bite into it.

It turns out, somebody did notice that Tom was missing.  

Somebody knows that the resurrection party just wouldn't be the same if Tom is not included.

To Jesus, this one  - the hard-nosed, hard-evidence, disbelieving, doubting, pain-in-the-butt Tom is worth the trouble. 

He is worth more than enough to throw yet another -  resurrection-rerun -  party.


Eight days later Jesus’ disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you." Then He turned to Thomas, "Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing." Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed." John 20:26-29

Saturday, April 04, 2015

The Hard Work of Rest





Sandwiched between the unspeakable drama of that Friday and unutterable victory of Sunday stretch out the interminable hours of an eternity-long Saturday.

The Sabbath day.

The God-prescribed day of rest for all the Lord’s people.

It seems like rest is the last thing on your mind following the triumph of evil.  

Rest is the last thing you want to do.  I know that rest is the last thing I want to do.

I want to do something.  Anything.

Anything to make things better.

Anything to make things less …worse.

Less… hopeless?

Anything that makes me feel less useless and less powerless.

I want to keep my hands and feet busy, just to keep up with the racing mind that refuses to quiet down... that just can’t wrap itself around unjust suffering, the murder of the innocent; the chaos and confusion of unmitigated hate…

… and, irony of ironies, done in the name of God.

The loss seems unredeemable.  The damage permanent.

How can good God allow this…?

It’s hard – hard – work, entering this rest.

In the midst of swirling unanswerable questions, the endless loop of Why? Why? Why? , this rest forces me to look away from what I do… 

...from what you do…

... from what evil can do and is doing…

Not in ostrich-kind of denial…

Not in some blind don’t-worry-be-happy na├»ve optimism…

But in faith – a rock-solid conviction that there is more to this story. What you and I see is not all there is.

This command to rest invites me to w-rest-le until my eyes are deliberately focused away from all that we do – terrifying or impotent as it may be, and I am able to take a deep breath – in and out – and look up to what God does.


For there is more, much more to that… to what God does – the God-story - than meets our little eye. 

And with God who was willing to go the length of the Cross for us, there is no telling what He might be willing to do to get us out of our graves. 

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Cracking the Building Code





Looking back, the pieces finally started clicking together when our son got his first LEGO® building set – Star Wars The Clone Wars. Of course, at the time, I had no idea...

The sealed cardboard box perfectly epitomized my approach to just about anything creative - cooking and gardening, parenting and disciple-making.

On the outside, there was a high-definition picture – in fact, several pictures - of what I should expect the end result to look like.  Just seeing them made my fingers itch to get this building business under way. 

Look at those slick lines! Check out these cool features! 

The spattering of few odd-looking characters made the process all the more interesting.

Inside, I could find a booklet with clear, step by step, easy to follow instructions and several bags of well-organized pieces. Everything I need to build the pictured model was in that one box.

My job was to open the box, get my pieces together, read the manual, follow the instructions, and in no time, without fail - voila, there comes a model disciple!

It turns out, real life rarely works quite that way. 

Except, perhaps, for those odd-looking characters.

Sure, there is the instruction manual.

Except, the instructions are not as simple, easy to understand and follow.

And sure, there are the building blocks. 

But, not all of them are ‘fresh-out-of-the-box’ nice and shiny.  In fact, hardly any of them are!  Most pieces in my pile are scuffed up and old, chipped and even broken. They all seem to have a mind of their own, refusing to stay put together the way I want them. They go off on their own in a million directions, lurking under the desk or embedded in the carpet, waiting for my unsuspecting bare feet to find them. 

Ouch!

And so my nice little set gets morphed into a big messy pile in the middle of the bedroom, the content of dozens of different boxes all hopelessly mixed together.

I can’t make any sense of that mess! 

There are days when I scratch my head for I am not sure if I am supposed to build an Imperial Starfighter or the Little House on the Prairie.

Or, perhaps, I should just bag the whole thing and go back to Duplos®!

Seated next to the big messy pile, nursing a massive headache, I do know one thing for sure.

I can’t do this on my own.  I desperately need help.   

I must call on the Master Builder!

It turns out, the Master Builder loves to answer. It is His joy to come alongside and help all the flailing junior builders in over their heads.

He always knows exactly where to start. He picks up a piece. He holds it up so I can see it clearly, and says,

This... this piece is the key. It’s the Cornerstone. Whenever you build, whatever you build, make sure you always start with the Cornerstone.