Wednesday, February 27, 2013

hello from the two of me.

how am i today?  like so many days, divided.  weak and strong, up and down, gelatinous and solid.
i fear i will use up the grace of God, that he will grow tired of dealing with me, become exasperated with me and choose to spend his time and efforts elsewhere.
i am also holy and blameless in his sight, chosen before the creation of the world, before i had even come to be, or committed my first sin.
my perfection predates my perversion.
and he delights in me.  it is his pleasure; it is his will.
but the basis of all this does not rest in me, in my promises, my proclivities, my pasts or my present. it rests solely on the grace of God, thru the shed blood of Christ, who loved me, and died for me while i was helpless and weak and rebellious and an enemy...and still unborn. 
how am i today?  hmmmm...thankful.  sitting squarely and securely in the cross-hairs of his grace, his intentional, relentless, measureless, and incomprehensible grace. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

kid’s art and righteousness

i was wandering around the foyer of our church the other afternoon awaiting the start of an event when i ran across a sketch book that had been left there by some child.  i started flipping thru out of idle curiosity…a few things struck me, for one, the randomness of the pages that were used.  it was hit and miss, here and there, do a drawing,  skip 20 pages and then do another drawing. 
i found this one

windmills with windows, doors, propellers…
…sky with clouds on parade…
…sheep with smiling faces!
all this started me thinking: of course, these scratchings are symbols for what the child was trying to communicate…there are recognizable shapes, details, colors…all conspiring to help the viewer make the metaphor work. 
but the real things themselves are of course so much more complex.  windmills, sheep and birds are three dimensional; they have volume and are much bigger than what is represented here.   blue sky is the result, not of color coming from a tube of blue wax, but the result of complex interactions of air and space and light and particles and distances.  grass and clouds and well, everything, is vast in its complexity. and these exist in time…there is movement and sound: sheep graze and bleat, wind sweeps across grass to make it wave and turn the windmills props, clouds drift along, . …none of this can a static drawing capture.   
the parent recognizes all of this; there are limits to bi-dimensionality.  there is no criticism of the fact that all this is representational, no chiding for inaccuracies.  instead the parent lavishes praise on his child for the wonderful drawing and then puts it proudly on the refrigerator for the world to see. 
i got to wondering if my attempts at righteousness are like that: awkward, two-dimensional, imperfect, less-than-fully-articulated stabbings on the canvas of the universe.  the real thing is so much more complex, as my heavenly Father knows.  real righteousness involves elements and dimensions i can scarcely imagine; true goodness, true justice, absolute and perfect love, absolute perfect sacrifice, unhindered by time and space…my efforts are like those of a child, hampered by immaturity and physical limitation that produce, at best, sign posts pointing in the direction of the real thing.  yet my heavenly father accepts them for what they are, not because my efforts at righteousness are even remotely close to matching the real thing…but simply because it is his nature to lavish his love on me. let me rest in that...and continue to draw. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

embrace the porcupine

there are things in life that are just painful.  some things land on you by surprise, out of the blue.  some things you see afar off;  you cannot escape them, you know they will hurt, they will poke holes in you,  you have no choice about them…yet somehow you must accept them, believing that over and above it all, God is good, that all things work together for good for those that love him, who are called according to his purpose. 
such is life.  such is my life…at least a portion of it at this particular season. 
over the past 2 years or so, it seems like for the first time in my life i’m experiencing what it’s like to be plugged into the body of Christ in a significant way, to have deep connections with brothers around me, connections fostered and encouraged by the fact that, again, almost for the first time in my adult life, we're not going anywhere anytime soon…we are rooted here…a precious thing.  and so, i’ve been learning how to make brothers and how to have brothers.  and now i must learn how to relinquish one of these. 
a week ago today i drove with my good friend mike to help him move to a new home in CO.  he feels God’s call on his life is not here, but there.  i had dreaded his departure for way more than a year…sensing its relentless, inevitable, merciless and penetrating approach.  but i could not just watch him drive away.  so i accompanied him on one of the best and one of the hardest trips of my life.  
it’s now a done deal.  and in CO is a huge part of me.  the hole left inside is enormous. i have pre-grieved this for a long time now.  it hurts now.  more will come.
i had seen this coming at me, and i could do nothing about it.   this is now his life and his future; i must embrace this as my future as well.  i am supremely grateful for the time our paths converged.  maybe they will again intertwine in a more than casual way.  in the meantime, somehow i must discover the presence of God in the middle of it all.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

open thanks to close friends

funny how one simple thing will trigger a torrent of thoughts.  i am in my living room this morning working thru one of the prayer exercises from the devotional prayer book mike recommended to me back in august when i was in guatemala.  in spite of it being fairly new, the binding is broken.  this is in stark contrast to my bible laying there next to it.  of course my bible is much older, but it has been rebound.  it was THIS that unleashed the flood. 
my bible is rebound because of you all.  a little over a year ago, when james was still among us, you presented me with a monetary gift for christmas, part of which went towards that rebinding.  but i distinctly remember telling you all when you gave me the check that YOU were the real gift.  the monetary contribution was worth far less than the company of men that sacrificed towards that end.  and as i sit here, i cannot help but think about, and thank God for, the incalculable contribution you have made to my life over this past year. 
you have been a crucible for working out my sanctification in fear and trembling and deep pain.  because of you, i have a realization and understanding, like never before, of the value of brotherhood – we have been for each other conduits for the receiving and giving of tangible grace: emergency prayers, texts, phone calls, contacts – fleeting and prolonged –  both face-to-face and skype-to-skype – to help each other in the midst of both short-lived and protracted crises…sometimes we have stood firm…sometimes we have not.  we have shared laughs, and tears – of joy, sorrow, cleansing and burden.  and we have shared prayers for life, in both holy and mundane matters.
our interactions have built me up, challenged me and torn at my soul.  i am a different man because of you.  and it seems fitting, this last day of this year, as i thank God for you, to let you in on the details of my thanks. 
funny…when i refer to us publically as a group i usually use some term like “the thursday morning breakfast guys” – a handle that’s far too long for convenience.  but in my address book groups, you are simply “SOS”…universally known as a cry of distress, but which for me has also come to stand for “Sanctify Our Souls”. 
so with profound gratitude for your life, your friendship, your brotherhood, your love, your prayers, your intercessions, your affections, your tears, your rebukes, your pokings and proddings, your leading me to the cross, your helping me stand when i cannot do so on my own, for invading my life and permanently affecting the course of each and every day, in the name of Christ our savior and master, i give thanks.