Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Crack that Saved Christmas









I don’t know what exactly happened nor when or how...

Nobody assumed responsibility for the crime.

Perhaps somebody sneezed.

Or coughed.

Or took a deep breath and exhaled too hard.

Or gave them a mean look?

Maybe there was no crime committed at all...

Maybe it wasn’t anything that happened from the outside that caused it.

Perhaps it was from the inside - the internal weight of the burden held by the delicate vessel over time… until it became too much...

Without a bump, a look, a cough, a sneeze or even a breath, the rocks cradled inside the glass vase became too heavy to hold in, and all of a sudden, all by itself, the vase... cracked

Just 

like

that.

From the inside -

- OUT!

I know that most people do not walk around like see-through glass vases, revealing the burdens they carry inside their fragile frame. But the burden is there. And it is heavy.  

Ironically, Christmas season, despite all the good intentions of good people to bring 'good news of great joy', often makes the burdens even harder to bear.  The crushing weight of loneliness, illness, broken relationships, grief and loss is only intensified by the pressure to act happy regardless of how one genuinely feels on the inside.  

No wonder the cracks are appearing all over the carefully decorated facades. 

Tempers flare. Arguments erupt. Depression deepens.

Which makes me wonder if these cracks could be the best gift of the season, after all...

An invitation to forgo the rush…

Let go of the pressure...

Simply skip the pretense…

A call to pass over the unreasonable expectations and demands on time, wallet, physical, mental and emotional energy…

...and take a breath… 

...and another deep breath…

Until we can hear our own soul breathing again.

And who knows? 

The good Lord might surprise us and reveal that 

the Christ Child 

is already cradled there, 

just waiting... 

waiting for us to come... 


Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:28-29

Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Best Doctor in Town







I have something to tell you, Joe starts while shaking my hand vigorously, as if thanking me for a great favor I didn’t do for him. It’s a saying I heard on my last deployment… 

I am already getting used to his 'emphasis pauses'. I think it's his version of Jesus', Truly, truly. I play right along.

Yeeeesssss???? I am all ears. 

The doctor who has no patients is the best doctor in town.

He lets go of my hand, still looking straight at me.

I chuckle at the irony of the saying. It doesn’t seem to be in the best interest of the doctor to lose all his patients. And yet… it certainly doesn’t seem to be in the best interest of the patient to perpetually need to go to the doctor, as is the habit of some.

The point of his saying is slowly dawning on me, although there might be an entire lifetime to live it both in and out.

It's a wise saying, nonetheless, one I needed to hear as much as I did his No Parent! No Librarian! 

The Lord bless you Joe.  We can only give what what we have received. I feel like I have received much from this shaggy toothless prophet.

And you too, he beams, the carnage and the gold inside his mouth somehow transformed with the broad smile that lit up his face.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Dueling Theologians

 

It could have been Wimbledon finals – the verbal ball whacked from one end of the court to the other.

Joe’s question.

Cris’ answer. Or at least attempt to answer, followed by Joe’s:

Parent! Or,

Librarian! Then,

Librarian!, again, then back to:

Parent!

Between Sam’s and my scrape-thump-scape-ing, and Joe’s ra-ta-ta’s to Cris’ apologetics, we sounded almost like a Broadway musical. Before I knew it my trunk was filled up with Publix plastic bags, now bulging with dark soil ready to receive some good seeds.  I rinsed out my hands and drank water, then walked back to the dueling theologians to bid my good bye.  

I noticed that Sam had stopped shoveling even though the bed of their truck was only half-full. He reappeared from around the pile, his arm stretched out towards me, holding an ice-cold bottle of water.

Sometimes it’s the smallest simplest actions of thoughtful kindness that bring us to our knees.

It was pleasure meeting you gentlemen, I choke a bit, and Cris, in his burly, warmhearted way, walks up to me and gives me a bear hug, which he punctuates, just in case there is any doubt of impropriety, with an energetic, 

The Lord BLESS you!!!

I receive the blessing and give one back in kind.

Joe watches our exchange of blessing with curiosity. He knows I’ve been a silent witness to their entire duel.  That fact may come as a bit of a shock to him since we Christians are better known for our ability to talk than our ability to listen.  I extend my hand to him and he takes it. I must be one enigma after another.

But, before I leave he feels compelled to add one more thing to our compost pile group date. 

Friday, November 30, 2018

A Parent, A Librarian or...?








I have a question for you, Cris, says Joe.

Finally a hope for a dialogue, I think, Joe’s interruption a welcome break from Cris’ lengthy monologue.

Cris too seems happy to be interrupted. He is shooting in all directions, covering all the bases but it is unclear if anything is hitting the target.  He doesn’t seem to mind the unfinished sentence - perhaps it wasn’t going anywhere anyway.

I am all ears…

Joe lingers. A lot longer than necessary. He looks around and lands his gaze on Cris before he continues,

I have a question for you, BUT…!  He emphasizes the ‘but’ as an absolute point of no negotiation. But I don’t want you to answer me as a parent. Or as a librarian…

He may be looking at Cris but this ruffles MY feathers.

I sense my Defender rising up ready to roar inside my chest.

I am a parent. Parents may not be perfect, but without them, there would be no human race.

I also often say that when I grow up, I want to become a librarian. It could very well be one of the most enviable, noble callings entrusted to mankind.  

I take Joe’s statement as a personal affront.  

What could possibly be wrong with being a parent or librarian?!!! 



Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The Great Shaking





The empty Publix bag in front of me, I notice, is shaking violently. 

Then I see my hands holding the bag, they are violently shaking too.  

Some tectonic plates deep inside are shifting and causing all this trembling. Not liking a feeling of unnerved I reach for the small shovel resting idle at the foot of the pile and start vigorously scooping the dirt and emptying into the bag.

The shaking subsides.

Joe’s gruesome self-disclosure seems to have little effect on Cris. To his credit, he didn’t have much opportunity to respond since Joe continued on with his story, tone unchanged, like he was telling the most hum-drum tale ever told.

Moreover, he said, the Lord likes me so much that he gave me all this money, so much money I don’t know what to do with it. It’s waaay more than I could ever need. He gave me this money and now I don’t know what to do with it. I want to give it away to some worthy cause… maybe he wants me to give it back to him…?

Joe stares at Cris, eyebrows raised, as if expecting an answer from him. An insider certainly has a better grasp on the mysteries of the mind of God and consequently is better suited to guide us through the strange landscape of his unfathomable will. 

Cris takes the bait.

Giving the money to his church would be excellent investment for Joe, since they are involved in so many worthy charitable causes.

2+2=4

The more Cris talks, the more excited he seems to realize the unfolding of the providence’s generous dealings in arranging our little compost pile meetup. 

It all makes perfect sense to him. Joe’s unfortunate fate to catch the bullet with his mouth, his pastor’s sermons, the large amount of money, and men’s purpose in this world – they all fit neatly and perfectly inside Cris’ box. 

He is so focused while explaining all this to Joe, I don’t think his ears even register the harmonizing of his friend’s and my shovel scrape-scrape-thump-thump background music.

Few minutes into the soliloquy, Joe interrupts.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Cris Meets Joe







Cris and Joe exchange a vigorous hand-shake, and just as Joe is about to join his shoveling friend, Cris interjects:

I and my friend here, he points at my crouching figure still holding an empty Publix bag in my hands, waiting for the delivery of the next shovelful of dirt…  we were just talking about the Lord. Do you know the Lord Joe?

Cris is not beating around the bush, and Joe doesn't strike me as 'beating around the bush' kind of guy either. I am half-amused half-intrigued to see how this is going to unfold. I don’t have to wait long.

Lord? Aaaaah Lord! Joe replies, O Lord and I are like THIS – he lifts his hand with the pointing and middle fingers pressed together in inseparable unity. We are like… best buddies.

Cris’ face beams with pure joy. Here we are, gathered together around the compost pile of all places, four complete strangers, worshiping the Lord. Joe’s shoveling friend is included in this community by proxy. Cris hasn’t determined the nature of his relationship with the Lord yet.

Even though it’s quite warm, a shiver goes down my spine. Something about the gesture and Joe’s inflection when he says ‘best buddies’ makes me cringe.

Really?!!?! That’s wonderful!, says my friendly giant, not a trace of guile. I met Jesus five months ago. I love my church! You can come to visit any…

Joe continues as if Cris said none of this.

The Lord loves me so much, I am like his favorite. He gave me gold… gold teeth, see... Joe stretches out a corner of his mouth to reveal quite a sight of dental carnage. He sent a bullet through my mouth on my last tour and saved my life so I can get gold instead of my old yellow teeth.

My heart sinks into my dirt filled shoes.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Meet Joe







I am not in a chatty mood and I feel like I’ve already met my daily kindness quota by allowing him to fill my bags his way - quickly and efficiently.  Still, no point in being rude, so I respond with all the eloquence I have left in me:

Hi Cris.

He must have gotten the message of my downward inflection, because next few shovelfuls happen in silence.

But, as I said, he is a friendly, sincere giant and he can’t help himself:

What a wonderful day the good Lord has given us!

The whole hell may be breaking loose at a different place at this time, and the same might have been true of us in some moment in the past or coming our way in the future. But right here right now I can't argue with Cris. 

The sky above us is a glorious shade of cerulean blue.

Both of us drove to the landfill in our respective vehicles with enough gas to get us here and back.  Enough food in our stomach to have enough strength in our bodies to carry not only our own weight but a loaded shovel as well. 

What more can one expect from life?!!??  

The Lord indeed is good. 

I grunt an affirmative, Uh-huh, reaching for another bag from the trunk.

He sees this as an opportunity and jumps in with both feet.

Do you know the Lord?

It’s a simple, yes or no question, but like a witness in a senate hearing, I find myself fumbling for a simple answer. Saying ‘yes’ sounds rather presumptuous and kind of arrogant. I can't even say that I know myself! 

But I can’t say ‘no’ either.  

While I am still pondering the best way to summarize my 30+ tumultuous years with Jesus, Cris proceeds with his own answer to his question:

I met Jesus five months ago! I am going to the best church in town! Come to visit us on any Sunday! Our pastor is …

His 600wpm soliloquy is blissfully interrupted by another truck that backs up into our pile. Two men in work-worn jeans jump out, each of them with a shovel in hand.

My friendly giant stops both the soliloquy and shoveling, to greet the newcomers.

Hi there! I am Cris.

Hi Cris. I am Joe. And this is my friend…

But his friend is already furiously at work, shoveling dirt into the bed of their pick-up truck.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Meet Cris








A truck rumbles in, backs up into the compost pile. The driver jumps out, slams the door behind him, shovel in hand:

I’ll help you fill up your car, a mound of dirt stacked high in his shovel all ready for delivery.

I look up at the burly giant with a huge smile wrapped around his entire head. It’s the kind of face that knows no strangers – friendly, boyishly sincere and utterly disarming. But I have my own weapons too.

I’m good. Thanks.

It will only take a minute…

This is not a suggestion. And it’s not asking permission.  It’s a statement of irrefutable fact with the loaded shovel to prove it.

No. Really, I am good. I have time. I have a system going… I point at my earbuds and the playlist on my phone.

He tilts his head to one side examining the strange animal with iPhone, a small shovel and time on her hand. The fact that he is probably three times my size doesn’t help my case either.

It’s an unusual standoff.  Two people intent on doing good, no matter what.   

Two people, same goal but vastly different ways of securing how it is accomplished.

It's remarkably obvious that the friendly giant needs to help. All that friendly giant sees is my empty trunk and my tiny shovel. He is a smart giant who puts two and two together. Help needed! His shovel is ready, whether I am ready for it or not. He wants to help, whether his help is helpful to me or not.

What the friendly giant doesn’t understand is that my coming to the compost pile is not only to fill up my trunk with good dirt. It’s a sacred space of reflection and a reliable escape route from my stretched out, stressed out world. I need this reminder of the basics of life. Dirt. Seed. Love. Time. Growth. Repeat. 

I seem to be able to digest these basics only in bite-size chunks. Not a dump truck load, but one small shovelful at a time. 

I look at him again and something tells me that in this very moment, the giant’s need to help is far greater than my need for solitude and whatever escape the mount of dirt provides. So, I stretch out my hands holding the bag and he happily loads it up.

Hi. I am Cris. 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Method and Madness






Everybody who comes here means business. We come with what we have - trucks, cars and trailers, armed with shovels, gloves, containers and the determination to get the job done quickly, efficiently and leave.
 


Except for the scraping of our shovels it’s usually quiet. The sound of silence a therapeutic backdrop for the rhythmic scrape-thump-scrape of the tools.  When I pause to catch my breath and look around, I realize my neighbors are a miniature cross-section of the United Nations. Maybe that’s why we don’t talk – we may not speak the same language! And yet, there is a sense of comradery here, you can almost scoop it in the palms of your hands and feel its weight and texture.  

I wonder what it is about this uncomely spot that melts the barriers and unites us.

Part of me thinks we all are a little (or perhaps a LOT) crazy. Who in their right mind leaves the comfort of their air conditioned home and braves Florida summer heat and humidity to get… dirt???

Of course, as Shakespeare warned us, where there is madness, there could be very well be a method hiding behind. 

I look at my sweaty, filthy dirt-mates with fresh eyes and I see not the raggedy crazies but visionaries of the worlds that for right now exist only inside their heads. But give it a month or two, those visions will sprout and grow, change and transform, from dirt and seed, into a stalk of tomato, a cucumber vine, a daisy and a marigold.

It was on one such day that I met first Cris and soon after Joe and his friend Sam.


Monday, June 25, 2018

The Other Black Gold




I often wondered what it was about the compost pile that marked the turning point?

If you went, there wouldn’t be much to see in that place. Some may say ‘nothing to see at all’.

No blinding glory and no beauty for sure.  Almost an exact opposite of the Home Depot garden center.

The best way to describe it would be a large pile of dirt under the giant canopy of blue sky. That’s it.

Just dirt. Pure, unadulterated dirt.

The Pile lives on the outer edge of the city, just beyond the city limits on the county landfill property. It is located a stone’s throw away from the gated entrance, not too far from the recycling facility, but some ways from the actual landfill where our community stinky garbage is carefully, professionally buried and beautified into rolling hills of Florida.  

Everything that is discarded from the residents’ lawns and gardens – trimmed overgrowth, storm tossed broken limbs, weeds, lawn clippings, fallen leaves, dried out potted plants once given as gifts to incompetent brown thumbs like me – all our ugly, useless and burdensome is collected weekly and combined together into gardening wreckage heaps.  These giant monstrosities are then marinated and slow-baked in the heat and humidity until the magic of time and some fantastic science turn them into the other black gold.  

Once ready, the gold is graciously moved closer to the entrance where it is freely given to any resident willing to come, grab a shovel and get his or her own.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Where Gardeners are Made... or Not








My rich history of failure has taught me that regular visits to the neighborhood Home Depot garden center will NOT automatically turn me into a gardener.  

It always seemed like such a logical place to start... All that glory and beauty, inspiration and elevation - it's bound to have some effect.  But, the effect was short-lived at best. The oversized marigolds which were calling my name there, once home suddenly lost their luster and somehow shrunk to an unimpressive size. They quickly wilted in the heat of the day and, eventually dried out and dead, would get flung onto the compost pile on the side of the house with the rest.

Still I found myself like a crack addict coming back for more, mindlessly roaming the aisles of green, watching busy shoppers pushing their stuffed up carts with pots of marigolds and bags of manure, mulch and Miracle Gro.

I guess gardening and logic do not always go hand in hand.

I couldn't get the thought out of my mind: 

If Home Depot garden center is not the place to learn how to become a gardener, then what is????

I don't know if it was around that time that I first heard about the landfill or something caused that previously acquired information to finally 'click'. It’s not the type of common knowledge you share with other customers while waiting in the Walmart checkout line. 

Have you been to the landfill lately?  Have you seen the latest pile of junk they've got?

Right now I can’t even remember who told me about it first. 

All I know, my initial trip there marked the beginning of an utterly new chapter in my gardening life, a genuine paradigm shift of sort. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Be Careful What You Pray For











In retrospect, I realize I didn’t really mean what I said in that desperate prayer. 

What I was really hoping to see was a swooping deity coming to my rescue, fixing my stubborn lawn problem with a flick of his almighty green thumb completely apart from me, apart from anything that I would or could be doing. With the HOA and our relentless next door neighbor thus finally off my back, I would be able to return to living my life the way I always have. Everybody happy, everybody getting what they wanted. End of story.

Some of us are raised to believe that such is the nature of real miracles which happen to accompany real faith.  Anything short of that simply doesn’t count.

I can't pretend to be an expert on either prayer or miracles. You may say that God got me on the technicality – I indeed have said, Make me a gardener, even though what that meant to me apparently was significantly different from what it meant to God.

I guess He took me for my word and ran with it. In fact, He is still running with it. 

As they say, Be careful what you pray for. You may just get it.

Of course, hind sight being 20/20, with this twenty-ish year perspective I see how this has worked for my greater advantage.  I was asking for one thing,  but He chose to give me something far better than a quick fix, a 'Raman noodle' miracle.

Still, I realize that like Limburger cheese, some may find 'aged', 'slow cooker' miracles an acquired taste. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

It Takes a Rocket Scientist, a God and a Fool







I wasn’t aware of this until we bought our first house, but I was born with not just a brown thumb, but with all my fingers brown, both on my hands and on my feet (technically called ‘toes’).

Within the first year of the purchase we killed just about every plant on our property.  Mostly through dumb ignorance resulting in abject neglect, but during that time I also discovered that it is possible to kill by caring too much. Too much weeding, too much water, fertilizer, pesticide… you name it, we did it. We’d sunken a fortune into our front yard, only to watch it go down the drain – literally. We became known as neighborhood serial plant killers. My experience taught me that gardening is rocket science par excellence and I am not a rocket scientist.  

Still, if there was any hope for our yard, any hope at all, we needed a rocket scientist or gardener, or both.

Not a lawn mowing service that rolls around once a week, makes a lot of noise and leaves after 30 or so minutes.

And not purveyors of unsolicited gardening advice – God knows we had plenty of those but the only good they taught us was never to trust gardeners with manicured hands.

I looked closely to the right and to the left, but there was no one in sight. Finally it dawned on me that there was one thing that remained.  A long shot and rather foolish one, but at this point I had nothing to lose. So I took a deep breath and exhaled a foolish, impossible prayer.


God, you who created this world out of NOTHING, make me a gardener.


Thursday, May 17, 2018

Recipe for Revival







Recently I was asked to write a piece on the topic of revival.

Revival?!!!? I can’t write about revival!, was my visceral reaction. Even I with my rich track record of foolhardy choices would think twice before blindly bumbling in where angels fear to tread.  

How do you write about the subject which is‘caught’ rather than taught? 

How do you transcribe the realm of existence where writers are like garbage pickers feeding on the scraps that fall off the ‘livers’ of life table? 

I tried to squirm my way out of it. Clearly not very successfully.

So, here I am, sitting at my desk on a rainy day writing about revival. As I look out of my window, I realize, it’s not a bad place to start.  My lawn, thoroughly saturated by torrential rains over the past several days, looks better, greener and lusher than it ever has.  I guess, one can say that it has been ‘revived’.  

If you knew the whole story, you would agree with me it truly is a miracle that it looks like this - not perfect, but pretty darn good, by my modest standards. Human, real-life good-enough good, not photo-shop, Better Homes and Gardens, Facebook good.  

This miracle, however, was long in the making. It's the kind of miracle that most people don't really care for - it's neither flashy nor instantaneous. The only miracles they believe in are the crowd-pleasing spectaculars which happen quick - like a magic trick or a drive-through burger on a squishy bun, except that you tag 'in Jesus' name' at the end of your celestial order. 

But this miracle didn't happen like that. It took many drawn out years for its wonder to unfold before our eyes.

I still remember clearly the time when our yard used to look just like our next-door neighbor’s now. 

Namely, dead. 

In sore need of revival. 

Their dried out wasteland brings fond memories of what was once our own.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Who is Taking Your Test?






Mrs. S, today I can use your help with this new computer assessment we are trying out. It's my day to help out at our kids' school, doing whatever the teacher deems most productive use of our time. There is a variety of jobs available, and this one seems easy enough. Still, she warns me,

 It’s been a bit of adjustment for all of us but we are slowly getting used to it. If you don’t mind, just monitor the process and assist the students if they get stuck.

I pull an extra chair next to the computer station and call the first name from the list. One by one, students came, type their login name and password, take the test with varying degrees of success, and are sent back to their desks with customized messages matching their final score:

Congratulations!
Or,

Try again!
Or,

Better luck next time!

I begin to wonder what the fuss is all about when I call Jaeda’s name. She sits in front of the monitor, types her name but instead of the screen of the first page of the test, a different message is displayed.

CONGRATULATIONS! You have passed this test!
And in smaller font, a little note below,

There is no more testing available for this student at this time.


I try several times, making sure that the name and the password are typed correctly, but each time the computer comes back with the same message.

CONGRATULATIONS! You have passed this test!


Jaeda looks at me confused. She shakes her head, No, when I ask her if she has already taken the test. I call upon Mrs. D., and at first she seems as confused as we are. Then her eyes light up with sudden recognition,

I know exactly why it is doing that! In preparation for your coming I wanted to make sure that the program worked properly so I took the test, and it was in her name! I guess I already passed the test for her! There is no need for her to take it again.


We look at each other and burst into laughter. Jaeda, somewhat dazed, walks back to her desk, having a bit of trouble fully taking in her good fortune.

Nothing like having your teacher taking the test in your name – I wish they did that when I was a student…

In the echo of the laughter about the improbable exchange, I see with surprising clarity another improbable exchange that took place long ago. Today, I soak in afresh its wonder and thank the Teacher again for taking my place, and not just once, but once for all, passing the test for me.

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
2 Corinthians 5:21

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Who Can Handle the Truth?





In preparation for the last high school play of the year, our daughter was volunteered by her Language Arts teacher to help paint the set and the stage props. Ms. L was probably thinking that she was doing the budding artist a favor. Giving her an opportunity to express her indisputable creativity she admired so much over the past few months. She just missed one tiny detail.

Our daughter loves to draw. 

She HATES painting.  

Maybe this is why they say that the devil is in the details.

Still, day after day she would hop on the activity bus and head to backstage where mess and chaos reigned. She would stay there for hours immersed in shades of acrylic up to her eyeballs, four pairs of good jeans and her favorite shirt from Serbia now all permanently decorated by splatters of blue, gray, green and brown.

We did our parental best to stop the madness - all to no avail.

But WHY??? Why are you doing this - torturing yourself? It’s not your job. We tried to reason, hoping it's not too late to teach our child the importance of knowing and respecting proper personal boundaries. 

There is no one else. Everybody abandoned the project and I am left alone to do it.

Throwing all thoughts of honoring proper personal boundaries aside, I did the 'Mom to the rescue' thing and volunteered with abandon:

I’ll do it with you. I LOVE painting. And I would enjoy being there with you. In my mind, I was already feverishly rearranging my schedule to make sure I can fit those several hours of backstage painting in.

No Mom. She said calmly. I can’t allow you to come. Kids are so mean and I don't want you to be subjected to that. 

I am both grieved and taken aback by this apparent role reversal. I also can't help but be somewhat amused by my child’s assessment of what I can handle. Of what I should and shouldn’t be subjected to from her peers. She means well. She wants to protect me… but clearly there is something wrong with this picture!

Then I realize this ridiculous scenario is repeated again and again in many forms and contexts – we do it to our friends, bosses, supervisors, team leaders, pastors. The higher up you are in the food chain, the less likely you are to hear the bottom of the barrel truth. Sometimes truth can be hard to swallow so we decide to lift a shield against it, to opt out - either by not saying what we really think or saying what we think they want to hear.

A lot of love, a lot of intimacy is squandered this way.

We do this to God too, as if He can’t handle the truth. 

We embellish our prayers and compose impressive soliloquies to him, while stuffing our true emotions and thoughts (if we are so lucky to even be aware of them).

I have to wonder what is going on in His mind when we act like this around Him.  Is He bored? Annoyed? Irritated? Does He roll his eyes? Does He feel betrayed, because no matter how much we proclaim our loyalty and our faith in Him, we don't really trust Him - the one person that can handle the truth indeed.

Friday, March 30, 2018

The Bad News of Easter




Quite awhile ago, I heard somebody say,

If you were the only person on Earth, Jesus would still come to die for you.

Over time the statement got buried under tomes of theological head knowledge, its gritty truth never really trickling down into my heart.  

Year after year each Easter celebration I would give genuine mental consent and sincere lip service to the events in Jesus’ life that culminated on Friday’s crucifixion.

Knowing how the story ends, we seemed all too eager to hoppity- hop over to Easter with it’s colored eggs and chocolate bunnies celebrations, as if glossing over what killed Jesus is going to make it magically (or, some might say, miraculously) disappear.

With so many bad news in this world, we don’t want to dwell on the negative.  

Since we have the Good  news, we have to share it and have to share it quickly.

But, good news isn’t good unless you are willing to hear the bad news first.

So, with your permission, I'll share some bad news.

The cross of Christ is God’s final declaration on human goodness.


If we don't want to take God's word for it, life has a way of convincing us sooner or later.

What this means is that best, most wonderful, kind, industrious, talented, impressive, intelligent, good looking, successful person you and I meet (including the one we see in the mirror) has a dark, broken interior we all try so hard to conceal behind a façade.  Religious façade probably being the most grotesque of all.

Some of us are so convincing that we start believing our own Marketing and PR or Facebook feed.

As if this is not bad enough, it actually gets worse.

Our brokenness is unfixable.  We are irreparably messed up and there is nothing, absolutely nothing you and I can do to fix it. In fact, by trying to fix it, we often make things even worser (does that word exist in English language?)

This truth is so sobering, if we allow ourselves to linger in it for a bit, it has a potential to radically alter the way we see ourselves, the world and people around us. 

Some of us might be driven do despair. 

For some, this despair might be the best thing that happened in the lifetime of escapism and denial.

The Good Friday is God’s final heart-wrenching declaration on human goodness.

There is none.