Monthly Archives: November 2010

The Encore

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If I say the word “Resurrection” to Christians, the majority of them will be able to somehow relate to, or recognize, the word. It is not a strange word to us.

Resurrection. It is what happened one Sunday. We know the story.

“Yes, yes,” many say. “We know that Jesus rose from the dead and so we can be saved and believe that God has the ability to raise the dead.”

It’s a part of our story, of our history, of our beliefs, of our dogma. God can resurrect. Death cannot stop him.

Ok.

Cool.

Lazarus come forth.

No problemo. Easypeasy.

But I wonder sometimes whether or not we have completely missed the point..

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Resurrection does not begin on Easter Sunday morning. FAR from it. Resurrection existed from the moment death existed. Read the first chapter of the first book about us. Out of nothing God speaks into existence.

Out of nothing

Nada.

Darkness.

Not just darkness; dark nothingness.

And then God speaks light…..

And his interaction with human beings doesn’t differ from his Creation methods. There seems to be a pattern emerging in his dealings with us; the Artist has a general style. Read the stories! He spins life in barren wombs, fills empty jars with oil and sparks hope when the slaves have lost theirs for the past 400 years. He breaks the mold and leaves behind empty graves.

The God of the Bible seems to be all about the impossible, final sort of stories. And I can think of little more final than death.

You can fix problems, you can look for solutions, you can mend broken things, you can adopt positive thinking and change situations, but with death it’s different. You have nothing to work with. You can’t do anything with death! It has been robbed of all material, possibility or potential for creation or change. It is a vacuum. It is the full stop.

Done. Finito. Formless and void.

And then God’s spirit hovers over the waters… and he speaks.

The King of the Heaven calls for the encore. The seated audience rise again to a standing ovation. The childless woman becomes a mother, despair makes way for a fragile seed of hope in the mind of a slave, the broken marriage is rekindled, the hopeless sinner becomes a hopeful one, the overdraft doesn’t stand permanent, the dawn is promised.

“Let there be light!”

“Let my people go!”

“Do not fear!”

“You shall have a son!”

“Follow me.”

“Hang on because I am going to move.”

“Wait and see what I do next.”

He is all about breathing life into dead things; creating somethings out of nothings, raising that which fell for good.

Wonder why….

Maybe it’s because you can’t blame that sort of creation on anything else but Him. You cannot find the trick of the Master Magician because the rabbit really wasn’t hiding under the table. This time it really appeared out of thin air. You can’t argue that it “fixed itself” or that there was another influence. There us not slight of hand, just the might of His hand.

And that is where Sunday morning comes in. It is not a proof for a Christian formula and it is more than the birth of a world-wide religion. Jesus left behind an empty tomb…. but not completely empty. He left a note.

He leaves behind a statement of his intentions. “This is what I’m all about. This is what I came to do. I’m not here anymore. Don’t look for me in dead tombs. Don’t watch for me in dead talk, religion or words emptied of life. Run to the empty grave and place your fingers in my open wounds.”

A pale, dead corpse, which was not only physically dead, but that had torn down hope with him, inhales a new breath. He gasps for all mankind.

In the silence of the morning his white cheeks turn pink, his eye-lids stir, his mind awakens…the first memory, the first thought.

The King of Heaven is not done.

He inhales. The encore. The comeback. The new hope. The twist in the story that nobody saw coming.

God did in his Son what he intends to do in us and for us; that was what salvation and the good news was all about. It was about restoring that which was broken and raising that which was doomed to death. The full stop is his comma. He is only pausing the draw breath before the real story begins…He came to breathe life into your life.

And in all of this hope of the finito becoming ignito, perhaps there is a whisper of a lesson for us too. Let us not condemn to hell, to the grave, or to the finish line that which we may see as dead. God may be just warming up. Sure, he may need to saw a few people in half, and even make some disappear for a while, but he can pull a silver coin from behind anyone’s ear.

He’s not done yet.

The paint isn’t dry.

Death is where God shines the most, because no-one but him can be blamed for such

a beautiful encore but Him.

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Love is Patient

when the same mistake is repeated the 624th time.

Love is kind

like a warm word, a soft hand to a cheek, like a gentle look or a warm hug.

And is not jealous

because what it has cannot be jeopardized or stolen away

Love does not brag and is not arrogant

it boasts in its purity and in its humility; a wordless celebration

Does not act unbecomingly

but remembers its identity and purpose

It does not seek out its own

your happiness is my happiness

Is not provoked

you can push my buttons but no alarm will go off

Does not keep records of wrongs

what wrongs?

Does not rejoice in unrighteousness

and only take joy in the things that lead to your permanent joy and peace

But delights in the truth

my lips will utter no lies to you

It is always ready to excuse

I will defend you not because I know your wrongs and think nothing of them, but because I know mine all too well

To trust

I entrust you with my greatest gift; my heart, not because you will never fail me, but because I am willing to always risk you

To hope

for despite the odds, with God I play with loaded dice

And to endure whatever comes

standing by you till my last breath will be an honor

Love will never end

I’m not going anywhere

But prophecies will pass, tongues will pass

Present truths and language and understanding have their expiration date

For our knowledge is partial

and our vision incomplete

But when the perfect comes, the partial will pass

love is the shadow of Heaven’s reality

When I was a child,

I spoke like a child,

Thought like a child

Argued like a child

“But mommy, I WANT IT! I WANT IT NOOOOW!!”

 

Now that I have become a man

I finished with childish ways

 

For now we see obscurely in a mirror, but then it will be face to face

Not I know partly; but then I will know fully, just as God has fully known me.

now I love you imperfectly, sketchy, erratically and inconsistently,

but I do it so one day

I shall understand the fullness of His love.

Be patient with me, for I am not yet how he intended me to be

But for now

Three things last

Trust,

Hope,

Love;

 

And the greatest of these is love.

 

Pursue love!

Chase after it till you can run no more.

(Adaptation of 1 Corinthians 13)

Joy Ride

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I recently asked one of my friends to tell me one of his dreams.

He thought for a moment and replied: “To be happy”, but a second later he corrected himself. “Actually, not to be happy, but to feel joy…to experience joy.”

I wrote it down. But the dream raised question in my mind and the distinction he painted between the two things got me thinking. What was the difference? What was it that separated joy and happiness (if any)? Was joy purely emotional? Was joy a person smiling all the time and running around? Was it silent? Was it real? Was it constant? Was it possible to ever truly be happy?

Was it sin for Christians to be perfectly happy in an imperfect world? Had joy become this unspoken wrong among the righteous and the pious? And I stil had to meet a single person who was 100% honest and 100% happy at the same time. Why? Because all my friends live tragic lives or are eternal pessimists? Far from it!

A lot of them are very strong people that climbing hills of Difficulties with hope in their heart and a lot of them laugh more than a child on a sugar high. A lot of them have good lives. A lot of them should be happy.

 

And then it hit me….

Happiness is not immortal. Happiness can, in our reality, be torn down, defeated, polluted, diluted, corrupted and broken. It is fickel, it is destructible. It is imperfect. And yet, if God wishes for us only good things, how can this not be a thing to reach after? Perhaps is a shadow of something to come, for as soon as I feel happy I am not happy anymore. As soon as I notice that I feel perfect, the faithful flood of imperfection floods me. As soon as I analyze this bubble, it pops. It is the water you will always taste and never be satisfied on.

You can break this down to personality type or lack of “Oprah Winfrey positive thinking”, but I highly doubt it. I think it is a Universal rule. The pursuit of happiness is a mirage we chase.

“But,” you say, “I have met happy people! I know people who are truly happy with their situation and their lives.”

Yes, but this is where happiness/pleasure and joy part ways. Joy is different. I thought to myself, perhaps it is like a person who has watched a movie about a disastrous progression of events, and therefore can rest at ease in the knowledge that there is a happy ending. It gives you peace to know that there a promise of hope. This is, however, not to be mistaken with the saying  “The end justifies the means.” It doesn’t. It rarely does. But it is a promise.

Joy is a security- the bubble that can’t be popped, because it’s made of steel.  Joy is not more boring or more calm or more pious. It is simply something that belongs to eternity. And perhaps that is why joy is more like a wedding than a party. It does not rant and rave for a few hours and then wake up with a hangover. Monday morning cannot break joy. It is an informed decision of a constant, faithful devotion to a love.

Maybe you’re thinking: “But I can’t be faithful. I can’t stay strong. I can’t be constant in my devotion!”

It’s ok. I wasn’t talking about YOUR devotion. Jesus’s devotion to you and to your life is constant. It won’t falter. So although your situation may change, or your relationships waver, the fact that he’s not going anywhere is your guarantee to joy. Does this mean you’ll be happy all the time? PLEASE! Not at all! Jesus certainly wasn’t. The man of Sorrows doesn’t quite suit that description, does he.

The joy that he wants to help us own is the type that says constantly: all things work for good for those who trust in the Lord.

It makes sense that such an undying thing as Joy should supersede mere emotion, events or situation. They are bonuses for the one who has joy.

And in a way it makes me feel less fickle. Being bound to something unbreakable is comforting and plants a seed of joy.

 

 

Bridge Moments (and the invasion)

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There are “bridge” moments.

They rarely occur, but when they do you will find yourself deeply touched and deeply affected. I treasure bridge moments. They change us.

A bridge moment occurs between two people during a conversation, it can take on different forms, but you suddenly find your heart skipping a beat as another human being speaks your mind. You stop and listen in disbelief as one of your deepest, most defining thoughts roll off the tongue of another being. And they have robbed you of your words and removed bricks that formed the wall between you.

There is a connection made – a bridge – a rope is passed through my waist and tied to yours. It becomes a life-line and we join this three-legged race together. We have our own foot, and we share one; we have our own mind, and share some dreams. We can take the same steps, and though we hobble, we are making it across the finish-line together.

Bridge moments create best friends, it separates certain people from the general flock and place them near our hearts. We allow them past our bolted entry door because the spoke the right password – the magic words. They are let inside.

You feel like who you are is expressed in art; random pictures hanging on white painted walls along a long, narrow corridor. This is the gallery of your identity and few get to see it.

But then this bridge-builder walks in the front door, down the corridor, hands behind their back, slow strides, stopping at each painting. He rubs his chin thoughtfully, and then begins to speak. He analyses and describes the art. Not in a clumsy, “that’s nice” sort of way, but in detail, in informed, insightful detail. He goes on about what the artist intended to express, how the colour-play is interesting, why the depth of the picture complements the subjects, where the light and shadows play a dramatic game.

And you find yourself nodding and saying: “Yes. That’s what I meant. That’s what I see too. That’s the right words.”

You feel like laughing and crying all at the same time. You tear up because of the sheer relief at meeting someone who recognizes certain paintings because they understand. They don’t just sympathize or empathize, but realize and recognize. Why? Because they have some of the same pictures hanging in their own hallway at home. This bridge-builder has stared at the same pictures as you have for years and knows the details like the details of his own mind. The art you have and the art he has tell the same story.

And you love them. You love the bridge people. As much as their words invade your land of isolation and privacy, you nearly feel relieved to see them swarm past your borders and occupy your house. The iron curtain is torn by silk and human connection, and it feels so good that it hurts.

Bridge moments change us forever. They let us know that we are not alone here. They let us know real love.

Don’t kill a Nightingale

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You cannot cage me

The freedom of the wind would not allow it,

the fields that stretch across my

heart would damn such a crime

How could it take part in murder?

For caging me would surely kill a song

Never kill a Nightingale

 

You cannot cage me.

 

Leave the window open and I shall return to you

and I shall fly back

only

don’t clip my wings with cynicism

You cannot cannot cage me

For an idea cannot be chained

nor can a dream be held down

Hope is not in the business of defeat

It does not belong to the earth

 

So kill the Mockingbird

C Major

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Spun together in the dark

Knit together in the night

Without a vote; without a voice

So, here you are, it’s your first step

You’re human and you don’t know it yet

Here’s a story waiting to be told

 

(Chorus)

But the pages you write

The lines that you live

Nobody’s read them yet

The battle’s you’ll fight

The moments of light

But God is no stranger

to your life in C Major

 

You’ll be struggling from the start

You’ll break your bones and break your heart

The mess will seem to have no rhyme or reason

But look up at the midnight stars

The wonders found inside of us

Don’t let some empty

lies commit you treason

 

The pages he wrote

The life that he holds

The Maker’s speaking between your lines

So read them again

They’ll scream like the wind

God is no stranger

God is no stranger

To your life in C Major

Pencilled Love

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I have wondered whether or not Love allows you to pencil in your answer. Doesn’t it demand all or nothing? Its dynamic nature plays in all the colours of the Universe, and yet its devotion would seem to be written clearly in black and white. Nothing more, nothing less. No fancy words, no if’s or but’s. Just plain, wholesome, honest, unbending love.

But at the same time as demanding everything, it also offers everything, showing no disappointment when we fail. On the contrary, for disappointment is a laming, disempowering and discouraging emotion. And love only seeks to lift up, empower and encourage. Instead of expectation it believes. In place of punishment it teaches the lesson anew, as though it were for the very first time.

And, as Peter found, sitting by the fire and smelling roasting fish, though we carefully and hesitantly pencil in our answers in suspicious lead when we are asked to declare love, He answers in blood. He writes in absolution, despite outer failings, external events. Though we cannot give our all, He already has. And we reply to this gift in different manners. Some reject it because it makes them experience feelings of discomfort, pride, confusion, guilt. For there is no glory for ourselves in this love. And it does not make sense, and we cannot understand it.

We have not earned this kind of love. In fact, it knocks on our door after we slammed it in its face; it calls after we completely rejected it repeatedly. It does not make sense and it does not seem fair or right. But this is who our God is.

This is what he offers.

Perfectly loving imperfect lovers, all in the hope of teaching us what love really is; all in the hope of one day the feeling being remotely mutual. He hangs on. He gratefully takes our “I like you’s” and our “Today I don’t feel it’s” and replies with the same thing each day. I-LOVE-YOU.

The object of the lesson and the method of its lesson are one and the same. We cannot learn about love outside love. We cannot understand love without living it and experiencing it. That would be like trying to fly by knowing everything there is to know about flying. You can read up on it, you can understand it s dynamics, and even its science. You can talk to others who have flied and watch it in the movies..

You still can’t fly.

Even baby birds have to dive from one branch to the next and learn by DOING IT! By flying, they are learning to fly. And in the same way Love, outside relationship, does not exist. Why do you think God is a Trinity- even within himself he has relationship- he who is love personified.

He will catch us each time we dive, and while we’re still learning, he loves us despite our denials and rejections and misconceptions.