An early morning in June along the Pacific coast in Oregon is a little different than mid-summer in good ‘ole land locked Missouri. By now, the heat is already stifling and the humidity is beading the on the brow back home, even if I’m in the shade. Here up north on a family vacation, sitting out on the porch, I’m wearing sweats, sweat shirt, Bob’s hat, wrapped in blanket and drinking hot tea.
Does this place actually exist, or am I just dreaming?
They do have humidity, however. It’s in the form of fog, and lots of it. It hangs heavily over the mountains in the distance, and even the near pines are hiding on this particular morning. At least intermittently. I mean, they kind of come and go. Continue reading “The clarity of a foggy morning”
The other day, I read something that a cousin of mine wrote about my Uncle Norman. He quoted him as saying, “That’s between you and God.”
I thought about that for a while.
Actually, I am still thinking about it.
One of the things I have had a hard time getting through my layers of thick bone that make up most of my head and into my often alarmingly small amount of brain tissue is that ultimately, a man or woman’s relationship with God is between him or her and God.
That may sound simple but as it usually works out, I take simple and complicate it.
I have a problem with wanting to define what makes a relationship with God. Even when my relationship was the most unhealthy, I still found ways to insert my standards are ideals into the relationship of others.
“Jesus replied, ‘Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God.'”
PS–there are plenty of quality “apologetic” Biblical studies out there to answer many difficult questions about the Bible. It’s okay to ask questions; it’s not okay to gripe about not getting answers. After all, it really does take a little bit of rocket science to get to the moon and beyond…! (But it’s well worth the view.)
There’s nothing but beauty when you look into the eyes of your own 6-month old child. It’s just that after a grueling 12-hour flight from overseas with the precious teething infant who has refused to sleep for the past several days, weeks, months, feels-like-years, you can barely see that beauty because your own eyes are having trouble focusing…
So after scooping up our youngest (and said precious one with precious but equally exhausted daddy) from the airport and gotten everyone tucked into bed at the nearby hotel for the night, Grandma got to babysit after the next morning’s breakfast so the young couple could try for a brief nap before the next leg of the family vacation.
At this age, Sweet One is not only still trying to figure out her own sleep schedule, but is also nine time zones away from home. She is intelligent, (W-A-Y above average, naturally), inquisitive, and most of all…
…awake. Very awake.
She and I are walking, talking, bouncing around the hotel, and looking, watching, and then we start touching. I can almost see the synapses connecting. Different textures, different temperatures through tactile experience. But one item seemed to keep her attention.
It was the glass door.
She could see though it, but couldn’t see “it”. Her hand would pass easily through the nothingness of air until it came to the same seeming nothingness to her sight, although her hand would stop, suddenly. Interestingly, because she had no mental/emotional grid to process this, or a priori objections to the experience, she simply accepted it and moved on.
“Although I can’t see it, obviously something is there.”
I pray that this basic lesson will not be buried under layers of empty philosophy later in life.
“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see…By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.”
Jesus affirmed a dimension more “real” than the one limited to human senses and experience. When I deny this, I deny myself the better part of my humanity and the potential expression of that reality:
I hazard myself (and others) to “be all that I can be” based solely on my limited self-concept, rather than the one for which I was uniquely designed.
I view situations through a lens of temporary, rather than eternal consequence.
My sense of peace and contentment will be linked to my personal sense of control, (and even a brief survey of history or a quick look at the news should blow that one out of the water!)
We made it to our destination all in one piece after a long car ride (though which Sweet One slept almost all the way!) Everyone is still in bed as I look into the cool fog on this Pacific Northwest morning. I know the mountains are there, but the fog is in the way, just like the unseeable glass door was in the way the day before. God’s reality is in play all around us.
Working as a middle school nurse for many (many) years, I’ve come to expect that quite a few—or maybe even more than a few—of the young visitors who come to my office don’t actually want the services I have to offer. Based on my assessment, they can finish their school day with a cough drop, or a Tylenol. And, yes, I make loads of phone calls to parents just to inform them that I’ve seen their child and they might want to recheck their child’s temp that evening as, of course, things do progress. But, for now, I send the student “BTC” (back to class).
It does not make me popular….
…because it was not the “help” they were hoping for or expecting. Ah, growing up is hard to do, as I check the child’s throat while fighting back my own migraine, or offering the good old staple of Saltine crackers while hiding my own stash at my desk after taking a couple of Tums that morning myself. Life is not always as we would want it, kid; let me “help” you start figuring that out now.
At this writing, Bob and I are waking up in a Portland airport hotel after scooping our kinder from Norway and waiting on the New Yorker to arrive after which we will travel a little more to meet additional loved ones for a week of high fives, and plenty of family-based jocularity. I missed a really great photo-op as we cruised right past Mount Hood, but here’s a reasonable facsimile:
In typical fashion, being the only early riser in the whole extended clan, (thus the name “Dawn”, I suppose), I am sitting out on some backside patio before the hotel’s breakfast is even ready, listening to the birds compete with the jet planes roaring off in the not-so-far distance. I’m impressed by the sound of their immense power, with just two puny little humans at the helm. Wow.
Now, granted, those two puny little humans had to go to school and learn some pretty impressive things, like to properly engage that immense power. Otherwise, that plane, as pretty as it looks, is just not going anywhere.
Or worse, yet, it might go somewhere it shouldn’t…
“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves…For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.”
One of the challenges for Christians in my culture (translated: for me) is the misunderstanding of the power that resides within us/me. I look in the Bible and see things, powerful things, and I have to wonder, “Am I really living all that God has for me?”
(Oh! There goes another one into the wild blue yonder!! Man, those engines are huge.)
Or am I just shaking my head and thinking, “Yep, that’s a nice plane”, but never bothering to go to school and learn to fly for myself?
The thing is, God says the power, His power, the power His Son died for, is already in all of His children. Fueled up, ready to go. Many times, however, I stay grounded, not only by ignorance, but also by fear, self-contempt and blame, offense, and the list goes on.
This doesn’t mean God doesn’t love me any less—no way. It’s just that He calls me to more. And He needs me for more. Others need me for more:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up…”
This morning, I sit here in the aftermath of a celebration. Here in this country, we celebrate the liberty and freedom afforded to us living here. It came at a cost. Men gave all so that we may have what we have today in the United States of America.
I wonder what those men would think about what we are doing to the gift they gave us.
Sunday in church, I was reminded that whatever men may give, whatever the price they pay, no matter the depths of emotion and devotion they feel, it is as fragile as a snowflake on a summer’s day. It will erode and fall away.
But Christ gave a gift, a gift far beyond what I credit him for giving. He put aside the things I cling so tightly to, revenge, anger, self-image, and became the worst of what I am while he was…
I was always one of the tallest kids in class. Back in high school I used to joke that the main reason I was on the girls’ basketball team was so that I could get off the traveling bus first just to intimidate the opposition. Despite what they may have initially seen, in reality they didn’t have much to worry about. My lack of athletic prowess may have been caused by hidden orthopedic challenges (no longer hidden, I might add!), latent asthma (ibid.), or simply a lack of interest and/or talent. Like my 6’5” brother once observed, tall people rarely have to jump…for anything.
Nevertheless, what we see with our eyes can be scary, because we have a way of interpreting it through the lens of past experience, which is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s a safety mechanism. If there’s a motorcycle coming down the road, past experience says it behooves me to move. Unless, of course, I’m an 18-wheeler with the right-of-way, then I expect the burden of wisdom to rest with the motorcycle.
I get all kinds of requests for money, you know, you make one donation and the scent of blood is sensed for miles. Some of the requests are causes with which I would agree, some not so much. But even the ones I would tend to support, well, let’s face it, there’s only so much to go around.
Which really isn’t the point. The real issue is the fact that it’s not “my” money anyway. Sure, it’s in my name, my account with my beneficiaries and all that. It goes to pay my bills, my taxes, and my retirement (such as it is). It puts food on my table and gas in my car. It’s not that I haven’t worked hard for it all; sure I have. And yes, some of that hard work has taken a toll I’d care not to admit, but there it is.
Still, the truth is, it’s not mine.
Not any more. Because I actually belong to a larger government than any on this planet—the kingdom of God, (which is, I might add, far more just than the IRS…just saying.)