Sunday, March 23, 2008

Middle Of The Story

I have grown up considering that the resurrection is kind of like the end of the story.
He died on the cross.
He rose after three days.
Because Jesus did not stay dead, we can all have hope.

Acts tells us in the first few verses that Jesus was "taken up", and then the angels came and then mentioned again that Jesus was "Taken from them". His Earthly body was somehow forcibly removed from the disciples presence, out of their sight and "up" into the clouds and into Heaven.

That's how my loved ones have gone.
Removed from us by a force we can not see. The difference is that they did not have their eternal bodies yet, so we could not observe the transportation.

I have thought often about the method of travel that Jae and daddy experienced in their death. What was the journey like?
Was it fast?
What were the sights?
Did they know what was happening? Daddy probably was knowledgeable about death,..maybe even expecting it, but not Jae.
Were there angels? (yes) They were at Jesus "going up",..but He was, you know,...Jesus. A bit more special than our loved ones here.

I am left to wonder.
And wonder I do.
and wonder and wonder and wonder.

Anyway. Back to Jesus.
He left us with parting words to anticipate His return, and gave us jobs to do in the meantime.
He leaves us to continue the story. Of course, the Bible was completed and written, but still humanity is left with a great deal of life to be lived.

Jesus's story I guess, will continue after He returns,..for then there will still be much to do. Raptures, Judgements, Armageddon, Feasts, etc.
Terrible things.
Wonderful things.

Come to think of it,..will God's story ever end?
No way.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

March 18, 2004

This is no ordinary day.
Today is not a day that I can pass off as any other regular day.
The sun rises, the sun sets and most people will mark March 18th off their calender just as they have hundreds of days before.
Our house is unusually quiet today. We have things on our calender and appointments to keep and we have people to talk to.
But we will not be thinking of much else other than March 18, 2004.

I recall a horrible story from years ago about a family of 5 who were savagely beaten, raped and robbed in their home by a two escaped prisoners. The dad eventually killed the prisoners, but he buried the evil men in his back yard and instructed the family to never tell anyone what had happened in their home that night.
The next scene showed the family eating around the dinner table as if nothing unusual had happened. The children's faces were swollen and bruised, clothes were torn and on backwards, and all their eyes were red and hollow as they were forced to act as if the nightmare had never occurred. I was deeply disturbed by the cruelty of making the children suppress and deny what had only moments ago shattered their world.
The story fast forwarded to these children years later, deep and intense psychological therapy.

Four years later, my family is still reeling, and I wonder how much longer it will last. A lifetime? Maybe. Maybe not.
Jae, Taylore's and Alicia's accident impacted thousands, but thousands have moved on. It is appropriate that they do so.
Life indeed does go on.

However a few of us still sit at the dinner table, looking around at each other, staring at the empty chair, each other and wondering how this all happened. Unlike the disturbing story above, our table is filled with conversation that is full of love and will bring some healing, but the fact of the matter is: Jae Lynn will never be at the table again.

Jae Lynn lived here, was loved here and then was violently and brutally torn away from us. The life course and trajectory of our entire family has been forever altered by that one moment in time.
I have no energy to attempt the reasoning for it all.
I wouldn't accept anyone's reasoning anyway, except for God's, and He's not revealing it to me.

Some days are better than others.
Some days, we are even "good".
All of us have had "great days".
The good days finally and occasionally outnumber the bad ones,....For most of us anyway.

But March 18th will never be a good day.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

God's Will

Just because something is important to us, does that make it important to God? I usually would say quickly and with confidence "YES!", but tonight, as I pray, I find myself wondering.
Wondering if we sometimes throw our energy into things which are good, but are not necessarily in God's grand scheme of life.

In God's epic plan, are there things which are of zero importance?
Then we very could be spitting into the wind with some time consuming pet projects or hobbies.
How depressing.

In God's epic plan, is every tiny detail of our existence eternally important?
Then we can assume that they either succeed or fail based on His perfect will.

I'm leaning towards the latter. There are so very many scriptures which use the words "All" or "Everything" or "Anything" or "Always" or etc,......
It is good for me to get into those scriptures and remind myself that my definition of success and failure is not the same as God's. He intends for all of life's circumstances and situations to bring us closer to Him so we can be conformed to His image.

My daily life is not about me.
It is not about my interests and projects.
It is about Him.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Zeal vs Fear

In II kings 10, there is a passage of Scripture which describes one of Israel's Kings.
King Jehu has always amused me.
If chariots had Nascar, King Jehu would win it. He is described as driving furiously and like a madman. In fact, he invited a passenger to ride in his chariot for the sole purpose of showing his "Zeal for the Lord".

The earlier post about the crazy water slide near Buffalo River could have easily been used as a set-up to talk about living dangerously.
Live life to the fullest!
If you are sitting on the edge, you are taking up too much room!
Live large for the Lord!

What makes some one get up in the morning with a plan to change the world?
How do you "get" zeal?
Don't ask me,..... because it was just a couple of hours ago when I had to tell myself out loud to "get your lazy depressed hiney out of this bed".

Oh for the courage to get in the front of the water slide train!
I don't want to be working in the shack with a few puny rules which no one pays attention to.
I don't want to be a spectator.
I don't want to be a passenger with someone else holding the reins.
I want to be the one who extends my hand and says,.."Come with me and let me show you my Zeal for the Lord"

Woo Hoo!!



I am a frazzlin full time effort for God.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Water Sliding at Buffalo River

When I was a teenager, there was a water slide near Buffalo River that gave me some absolutely fantastic memories. You see, back in the 70's, no one had ever heard of water slides around here. There was no "Wild River Country".

Water sliding was an entirely new concept for us teens.

Sometime during the camping trip, we would bum money from our parents, gather up every teenager in the camping group, gather up every other teenager in the park, load up into the back of one pick-up truck and head towards the place which we had anticipated all year. Once there, we paid for an hour, got a white foam mat, wore ourselves out careening down a winding, narrow concrete chute, landing at the bottom into a catch pool that was way too shallow. We then grabbed our mat and returned to the top by climbing a near-vertical hill.

The surface of this water slide was concrete. Not the polished kind of concrete that water slides are made of today. It was the surface of a concrete block.
It was that rough. You learned quickly to STAY ON YOUR MAT! To let the mat come out from under your body meant, not only that you ruined your swimsuit, but you also lost whatever skin was exposed. The skin was usually freshly sunburned.

Did I mention that the owners did not seem to know how much chlorine was too much? There were no germs or algae growing in that water slide.
It smelled and felt like pure Clorox.

One of the things that made this water slide so great was that there were no rules. Actually there were a few posted, but we never obeyed them and the teenage boy "in charge" never enforced them. In fact, he occasionally grabbed a mat and slid down with us.

We could go down the boring way with our butts on the mat, or take our life in our hands and go down face first. There were even a couple of us (not me!) who attempted to go down standing up!

"Let's make a train!"
By placing all of our mats in a line and hooking our legs around the person in front of us, we could make a train of 7-10 people. The weight of multiple people sent us down the slide at warp speed and often sent us nearly over the top of the curves. By the time we reached the landing pool at the bottom, we were out of control and convinced that death was a certainty.

At the end of the "train" ride, pity the poor person who was in front. They were occasionally trapped underwater, at the bottom of the pile of mats and laughing, screaming bleeding teenagers.
We usually fought to be in front.

After our hour was up, we piled ourselves into the pick-up truck for the 5 minute ride back to camp and spent the rest of the day comparing abrasions, inspecting ruined swimsuits, rubbing our red burning eyes and laughing at ourselves and each other.
Bed time sure felt good on those nights.

Now, when I go camping with my family, and pass the place of this water slide, I will often pull up to that deserted tiny building and look down the hill towards the winding piece of concrete which is now covered with vines, leaves and faded blue paint.
My kids have heard of the fun.
They are jealous.

It's been closed now for years.
I am sure that water slide authorities (whoever they are) would never allow it to be open. It would be "way too dangerous":
The curves too sharp,
the descent too steep,
the landing pool too shallow,
the chemicals too strong,
and of course, the surface too rough.
However, when I think of all the hundred times I have been down other water slides,...the safe ones,... I have never even come close to experiencing the laughing, screaming exhilaration like I did at the Buffalo River slide.

Of course, it was dangerous,.....that's what made it great.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Polluted Sacrifices

My kitchen table is a sacred place. It is a place where God Himself has often come to me and revealed Himself through His word.

In this past week, the following scriptures have been put down in front of me, and I am telling ya, I am picking them all up!

"Whatever work your hands find to do, do it with all your heart" (can't remember the address!)

In Malachi:
If I am the Father, where is my Reverence? Says the Lord of hosts to the priests who despise My name. Yet you say, "In what way have we despised your name?"
"You offered defiled food on My alter,"... by saying"the Lord's table is contemptible". When you offer the blind, the lame and the sick as a sacrifice, is it not contemptible?

(In this case, the priests added the sin of pride when they shot back an incredulous response of "When did we do that? Prove it!". )

In I Samuel:
Lots of verses about Eli and his wicked sons. What angered God the most was that they were perverting the sacred. They were "kicking at God's sacrifice, offerings and commandments".

Not scripture, but anointed nonetheless, was a sentence I read last night in a book. It quoted Dr. Martin Luther King as saying:
"If a man is called to be street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or as Shakespeare composed poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of Heaven and earth will pause to say, Here lived a great street sweeper, who did his job well."

I often get to thinking that my life, my relevance, and my impact on this world is insignificant.
But how wonderfully divine that God delivers His Rewards, Justice and Mercy based on the one thing we can control:
Our Hearts.

God designed a plan to reveal Himself to the world through us,..His beloved children.
It is easy to get weighed down by the responsibilities.
It is easy to see His work as a burden, especially when it involves the menial or appears to be unproductive.
It is easy to be distracted. The world is a noisy fun place, a delight to our senses.
It is easy to be lazy. To do His work without a thought of excellence or sacrifice to a Holy God.
It is easy to look at other people and point out their "issues".

I have a renewed commitment to the things I am involved in. Not to settle for a half-baked job in anything. In all that I do, to offer the efforts to God as a sacrifice of service.

He does not need me, but He loves me and lets me help Him.
The Lord of Lords, King of Kings, and Creator of the Universe wants me to revere Him by my efforts in my daily life.
I can do that, but will I?
God forbid that I should ever offer Him a defiled effort.