Tuesday, April 27, 2010

puffs of air.

Here I go, struggling again for the world to see! Now in my middle forties, I wonder where life has gone so quickly. I feel the pull of trying to "stay young, hip and relevant." I am now too old for many things in life...I don't even think the Army would take me! How did this happen??? Someone pass me an 8-track or a LP, I want to be young again!

I see it all the time in my work (a Membership/Wellness Director at a YMCA), people working out to stay fit, healthy and straining to hold onto to the vitality of youth. Don't get me wrong, I am straining to...it's why I run. But I see it's ultimately a losing battle. Letting go of this life is a true mark of getting what it's all about. I don't mean to cease caring either.

Let's face it, in our bathtub of life, the drain plug has been pulled! The water is decreasing...for all of us. The sooner we embrace that this life is not all there is...the better this life will become. "John, did you hear that?" [speaking to self]

1-3 I'm determined to watch steps and tongue so they won't land me in trouble.
I decided to hold my tongue
as long as Wicked is in the room.
"Mum's the word," I said, and kept quiet.
But the longer I kept silence
The worse it got—
my insides got hotter and hotter.
My thoughts boiled over;
I spilled my guts.

4-6 "Tell me, what's going on, God?
How long do I have to live?
Give me the bad news!
You've kept me on pretty short rations;
my life is string too short to be saved.
Oh! we're all puffs of air.
Oh! we're all shadows in a campfire.
Oh! we're just spit in the wind.
We make our pile, and then we leave it.

7-11 "What am I doing in the meantime, Lord?
Hoping, that's what I'm doing—hoping
You'll save me from a rebel life,
save me from the contempt of dunces.
I'll say no more, I'll shut my mouth,
since you, Lord, are behind all this.
But I can't take it much longer.
When you put us through the fire
to purge us from our sin,
our dearest idols go up in smoke.
Are we also nothing but smoke?

12-13 "Ah, God, listen to my prayer, my
cry—open your ears.
Don't be callous;
just look at these tears of mine.
I'm a stranger here. I don't know my way—
a migrant like my whole family.
Give me a break, cut me some slack
before it's too late and I'm out of here." (Psalm 39, The Message)

This Psalm says it best. The Bible always has a way of doing that!

a puffy stranger,

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I want to be rich.

I can't lie to you, I want an easy life. Nice house, car, money in the bank...health. No inconveniences. The problem is that my life couldn't be farther from this at the moment. Everything is uncertain except the love of God and my family. As much as I tell myself, "it doesn't matter", I am surrounded by American abundance. Almost calling out to me..."You should have this, if you were successful...you would have this...just look at the TV preachers!" In truth, I know where my affections should be placed. Not on the things of this world. But it's hard isn't?

I listened to Rich Mullins deliver a powerful thought amidst a concert he did just before his death years ago. The truth contained therein cemented for me, once again, that riches are not the marks of God's blessings. I must struggle against this wrong thought. I want to share a quote from Rich Mullins. Chew on it for yourself.

"Jesus said, whatever you do to the least of these my brothers you’ve done it to me. And this is what I’ve come to think. That if I want to identify fully with Jesus Christ, who I claim to be my savior and Lord, the best way that I can do that is to identify with the poor. This I know will go against the teachings of all the popular evangelical preachers. But they’re just wrong. They’re not bad, they’re just wrong. Christianity is not about building an absolutely secure little niche in the world where you can live with your perfect little wife and your perfect little children in a beautiful little house where you have no gays or minority groups anywhere near you. Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken..."

I think Rich was right. I think he got it on a level that I am just getting. I don't think he feared much in this life because he held so loosely to the things of this life. I want to be like, Rich.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Is God With Us?

Someone recently shared an email with me that had this message (I checked it out and it IS a true story):

"Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. The man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approx. 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.
4 minutes later:
the violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.
6 minutes:
A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.
10 minutes:
A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.
45 minutes:
The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.
1 hour:
He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities. The questions raised: in a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?"

If you are like me, there is a real temptation to think God isn't at work in our everyday lives. Frankly, there are days when I think, "I don't see God with me." If the above experiment holds a lesson we can translate to our walk with God it may be that He is more present that we can possibly imagine. Present like, "right in front of our faces" and yet we miss Him. Maybe it's religion that sends us to church expecting to "see Him" but in the everyday we disregard Him.

I am coming to believe I have a perception problem. That fact that I "don't see God" in the everyday of my life is not a "God problem" its a "John problem." Like the beauty of the music played and the masterful musician playing it, because it is not perceived does not diminish for one minute the empirical truth that what is occurring is extraordinary.

Because "I" have a sight problem, doesn't diminish our ever present God of the Universe one iota. HE IS WITH US. May we start seeing with the eyes of the children who were struck by the violinist. Kids see Him more than us adults, I am convinced. Time to pay attention and sharpen my perceptions.