As a teenager, I learned the basics of cleaning house. Mom “made” us do our own laundry (thanks, Mom, so very, very much!!), and we were responsible for keeping our own rooms clean(-ish). Dusting was part of it, and if you ran out of Pledge, then a damp rag would suffice.
They say “practice makes perfect”, so leave us say I am a less-than-perfect housekeeper, much less. Whoever comes to visit should leave the white gloves at home. Never quite sure what you’ll find under the bed either, and a flat dusty surface is for writing love notes,…isn’t it?
My not-quite-Heloise skill doesn’t make me less appreciative of God’s perfection, however. Case in point, I love this description of the Baal vs. Yahweh encounter. The prophets of Baal do all they can, and more so, to get their god to light the sacrificial fire on their alter, yet have nothing to show for it but raw hamburger.Continue reading “Love notes, and other uses for dust.”
Planning weddings has become a multi-gazillion dollar business. I fancy you could send their kids to college with some of the hoopla that society calls weddings these days! I mean, c’mon, if half as much time, effort, and financial resources went into preparing for the marriage as it does in preparing for the wedding, well…the statistics would read a whole lot differently.
So there’s my soapbox.
Evidently, however, our 21st century Western culture is not alone in this absurdity. Take another look at 1st century Judaism—
“The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. The wine supply ran out during the festivities…
One source I looked at said that wedding celebrations typically lasted five to seven days, and the whole village would be invited! Okay, they’ve topped us on that one. I don’t know how much wine costs back then, but over a week, it would’ve certainly driven up the bill.
“…so Jesus’ mother told him, ‘They have no more wine.’”
“Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”
I love, love, love Mary’s concern for the bride and her family. True empathy. It could be that she has already married off daughters of her own, and can feel the coming embarrassment if something isn’t done, and quickly. Very possibly, her own husband, Joseph, is dead by this time, so she turns to her nearest benefactor, her oldest son Son. (How convenient.)
Her next remark is brilliant—
“But his mother told the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’”
Seemingly having just been given a bit of a brush off, albeit polite, she proceeds to clear the way for something extraordinary should God decide, in His wisdom, to do something…extraordinary.
Which, as we know, He did.
I don’t know if the bride and groom, or their parents, ever found out. (Yet another example of how God comes to the rescue for us when we’re not even aware we’re in danger, but that’s another whole lesson, I suppose.) However, the disciples knew what happened, and it made a decisive impact.
Which leaves me with another impression—shall I ask God for something and not “clear the path” for Him to do what only God can do? Should I not also listen for His voice in response to my request rather than go on wringing my hands?
I think not. I prefer Mary’s tack, doing what I can do at present to allow for future heavenly intervention. Then, listen. Carefully, and creatively.
Best dating story: Bob and I were coming home from an evening out. As I was still in college, I lived with my parents in the summer, and my dad, as a stickler for protecting his family, always had the door locked if I got home late enough and they had gone to bed. Naturally, I also always had a key to get in when my soon-to-be finance would deposit me at the front step.
The key, however, only fit the main entrance, not the outer screen door…
What happened next was almost something out of Ferris Beuller’s Day Off. Bob, being the practical science-guy he is, couldn’t understand why I didn’t just ring the door bell, (which, to this day, seems like the most sagacious option), but in deference to my objections, he pulled his little Pinto (remember those?) around to the driveway and helped me go from the big wooden storage box, to the top of his car, and onto the garage roof which led to my own second story window. Thankfully, I had left the window open, but DRAT! There was that locked screen window (what is it with screens??) that I had to poke my fingers through to raise, hoping that the family dog wasn’t currently my room ready to sound the intruder alarm.
Having successfully deposited his future bride safely, albeit not conveniently, within her home, Bob took off and I went to bed, thinking I would relate the incident to my folks…someday. Until I got up that morning and they asked me how I had gotten in last night, as Dad noticed he had locked the screen door, and Mom was wondering what my shoes were doing in the garage.
At what point in a young person’s life does she realize that her parents are not stupid?
Now, Dad is a fixer; property is something that must be improved and/or maintained, so my screen window didn’t stay impaled for long, allowing for mosquitoes, bees, and other pests equal access to my room, (geewhiz, hadn’t thought of that one). And thankfully, I didn’t dent Bob’s car, pull off the guttering or slip and break my neck scampering up the shingles. In retrospect (sigh) I should have just rung the doorbell!
Which is kinda the point the writer of Hebrews is making when he says:
“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”
I wonder how much wasted time, energy, and (gulp!) destruction I have caused by not first coming boldly to my Father’s presence. What fears have stolen my peace, what anxieties have poked holes in my power, and what kind of hellacious peril I have put myself (and others) in due to my lack of faith in God’s most holy acceptance of me because of His Son!
After all, I’m one of the family. If I’m feeling locked out, I just have to ring the bell.
No, that was not a reference to any political affiliation, but any true Trekkie would recognize that phrase as the warning signal on the Starship Enterprise, which might be followed by such notable quotes as “shields at full” or “fire proton torpedoes”.
However, the term is a good illustration of a deep-seated anxiety plaguing our American society right now, one of many in fact. The election of 2016 is being touted as one-of-a-kind, and to some degree rightly so. On the other hand, the angst and rancor are nothing new, but a fine old American tradition dating back at least to Rutherford vs. Tilden of 1876.*
Of course, the political climate is only one example of the generalized apprehension that is so much a part of our culture. It’s unfortunate that, as a Christian, a purported follower of the Creator of the Universe, I have a tendency to acquiesce to some of the same anxieties. I say unfortunate because a) I should know better, b) I know WHY I should know better, and c) I have been given sufficient Power to act on that knowledge.
In reality, these fearsome “what ifs” are the 64-color crayon box version of worries, complete with the sharpener on the back, just in case the particular color of the day becomes a bit dull in our Enemy’s hand as he tries to scribble on my world. And my Enemy is not the government, the boss, or even the neighbor next door.
There’s the rub, the real point. The apostle Paul wrote that we “war not against flesh and blood, but against the unseen powers of darkness”, and when it came to supernatural antagonists, if anyone knew what he was talking about, it was Paul. I have an Enemy far more seditiously subtle than anything I may read or hear on the news. And if I get wise to one of his colors, he’s got plenty of others to choose from, unless…
As I write this, I am at a nursing conference. Here is a piece of scientific wisdom from Dr. David Schramm’s session:
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
That doesn’t mean I ignore all the bad news in favor of the good. But it does matter what I choose to focus and reflect on, since it helps determine what my responses will be to all things, both good and bad…
…no matter what color the next “alert” is. (And there WILL be more.)
“…casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully].” (1)
CAST: Throw (something) forcefully in a specified direction (2)
I did it. I actually spent the money to have the Mighty Wonder Buck fully groomed. I mean, the works, like pushing all the buttons at the automated car wash. He had been shedding profusely, and a little black hair here and there kept turning into black dust bunnies the size of a Star Wars Wookie.
Mission Impossible. I was probably watching Peter Graves do his thing when Tom Cruise was still eating his stained Gerber peas. That whole, “this mission, should you decided to accept it” [yeah, right, like you have a choice when you work for the government…] and then the whole this-message-will-self-destruct-in five-seconds thing. Simply iconic.
I wonder how often I’m given my own seemingly impossible mission, but choose to self-destruct instead. And I mean me, not the mission.