Thursday, December 30, 2010

Morbid Thoughts

So I was watching a movie this evening that involved the collapse of the United States by a foreign power, which is not an odd theme these days, but as usual I found myself hoping that the outcome would be in favor of the antagonists. This has not been an odd response to this particular theme I must admit. Cartoon villains are easy to root against mainly because they are tragically humorous, but the more realistic threats find a foothold somewhere inside that tug at undeniably sinister heartstrings. It isn't a desire to see people dying that has me hoping that Jack Bauer will fail. Even this evening's tale of Russian sleeper agents setting off a bloody jihad with American nukes leaves me cold. I don't find the thought of anarchy appealing personally, and 9/11 sent the same chills down my spine as anyone else watching that day. The fact is, though, I was quietly cheering for Ted Winter in "Salt", which we watched tonight. He turns out to be a Russian agent, but, of course, he dies on the very brink of achieving his nefarious plans.
When I have been watching the news over here about what is going on in North Korea I am also curiously drawn to wonder what a conflict between these nations would look like.
Overthrows, downfalls, conflicts and their like send an odd tickle down the recesses of my thoughts. A tickle that is morbid, but at the same time tinged with hope and desire. There is a hope that this kind of man made disaster would wake people up to the reality of the temporal world around us and a desire that they would begin to ask the right questions. After 9/11 churches were full for months, because people were asking, they were waking up. Unfortunately after not so long of a time the seats began to empty once again as the next waves eroded the writing in the sand. The same sand that so many lives are built upon.
The other desire that fills me is that people would understand that they need to turn to God. Their countries, governments, media personalities, and cultures will not stand forever, but to rest in the eternal presence of the Father is the only true solace we can find. While He continues to hold His saints firmly in His power all other pretenders to His throne are being smashed down, washed away, or simply slowly eroded away by time and circumstance. Psalm 2 speaks of the way that God sees these things, and I so desire that we would see it this way too.

Friday, December 17, 2010

But I'm Scared!

Sitting up late with too much chocolate coursing through my system seems to be a good recipe for a blog post. It has been a while since my last one, but I'm hoping this one will be a little bit different from what I have been putting out there. You see there are levels of honesty we reach when we write these things that make it appear that we are letting you into our lives. Of course, in all honesty, it has always puzzled me as to how we have gotten here when we all know that there is barely a glimmer of the truth to that notion. The internet and all of our other touchless means of communication have left much of our lives as digital residue on the millions of neurons these messages have passed through as they go whizzing around the planet. They don't actually follow the line of senses to be filtered in a sensible manner, they just randomly collide with our grey matter at the speed of light. I am still gazing at a glowing screen in the night, and you'll pocket your smart phone, and get on with your day.
Honesty. I know what the word means. I struggle to live my life according to its bounding principles, and promises of peace. I have suffered under its gaze when the acrimonious bile of its nemesis has seeped from between clenched teeth. I've also known its cooling touch restoring the scorched recesses of of my burnt psyche like a mountain cataract flooding a septic city alley. Seeing its power I have thought to hold it in my hands like a tool at my will's disposal only to find it pressing upon my upturned palms like the weight of the pages written by heaven's very blood. I turn from tool and page to see the substance of their mettle; the form they aped in mere reflection. I see Him.
It was in fact this revelation that finally brought so much freedom to my life. The revelation that these principles we aspire to are not actually disembodied ideals that we can just pick and prod like produce in the day olds section. We didn't come up with them as a convenient way to structure our societies. No one sat around a fire for dinner only to choke on a bone when the 'aha' moment struck, and they realized that we had been going about this all wrong. Hammurabi may have hammered out his view of the reflection he saw, but if he never knew that it was only a reflection then there stands in the Louvre a sad testament of the blindness that takes us as a species. Just as the other pieces of art testify to our desire to grasp at the dissemination of the visual record of the divine character, so to do our ideas and ideals grasp for the intangible. In the recognition of this there is freedom no lawmaker, nor law keeper will ever attain. You've gotta know the Truth.
Here is the hand that both settles heavy on my shoulder and stays my weary, faltering gait. I realize that I do not wield honesty as a tool any more than I forged the truth of the words I profess to the heavens. Truth is the tool that rings in the quarry of my heart to hew out crack and crevice that the promise of flesh may be seeded. Truth is the tool, the hand, the power, and will. Truth is the very Person. Truth will not relent.
Today I awoke with the smell of fresh quarry dust lingering past the falling curtain of morning dreams. He has struck yet again. He has found a place where I have attempted to find some solace that bears only a resemblance of His beauty. Like a child hiding beneath blankets from the deeper comfort of the parent's countenance while fearful thoughts lock little eyes tight. Safety is felt only in the protection from evil rather than the banishment of its very presence. Like this child I too have found a weak and beggarly principle to pull up over my eyes when the boogyman whispers his dark lies. When all my worth is being held ransom I will reach in my pocket and set my fingers about the one currency my abuser must exchange. I will hold out my work ethic. My silly little patch of blanket that was woven against the very curses this tormentor is hurling even now. A work ethic to tell me I'm not lazy. A reference letter to tell me I'm not that same guy anymore. Not the guy I used to be.
How did that happen? Where did the frail cloth come from? Like the child I have forgotten to ask myself where the bed, blanket, and home came from in the first place. Like the child I hear a gentle voice asking me to come out. Come out not to comfort the worries of the Father, but to allow the child to see the eyes of Love. Come out not to give, but to receive.
I only came by any kind of work ethic in my life because of the continuing promise of Philippians 1:3-6 . It only happened because of Him. Were I to pull away the blanket I would see this. If I were to turn away from the schoolyard bully I would see Him standing with me. I will even turn because of Him.
I guess in the end the Louvre can't be blamed for its beggarly reflections, there's no room in the most lavish hall for anything but reflections. As for me I think I'm gonna step out for some air. Peace.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

NWFF Take Me Home

My wife and I are sitting on the 5pm fast ferry back to Cheung Chau after an afternoon wandering around Causeway Bay. We picked up a few items for Christmas and basically enjoyed each other's company for a few hours. It is so cool how you can be in an environment that could be high stress, and yet with the right person everything just seems to shine instead. It's like that with me and my wife. We really enjoy these little outtings where we just toodle around some areas that we already know, or maybe even a new area, and we have no set schedule or specific destination. The time is there for each persons little rabbit trails to be explored, because the time with each other is what really counts.
When we sat down for some ramen at Ajisen Noodlehouse our conversation turned to some of the spiritual doldrums I have been finding myself in of late. We have both been through them so she has been very patient and prayerful during this season for me. This allows me to process through the issues with her very constructively rather than always having to beg for the time to talk. A good bowl of spicy Tom Yum ramen doesn't hurt either.
Perhaps it was exactly this setting that helped me reach a critical realization in my ponderings about the "out of season" funk I've been grooving in. The reason for all of this peacefulness and ease is the love that my wife and I share that has been forged through some great and some not so great seasons of marriage. It is because of this love that we can flow together. Love has made a way for us. Love too, desires to make a way with me. Love personified in the Trinity.
I stopped at this thought for the rest of our meal, and have been ruminating on it ever since. First love. First love is what Christ called the perfect church back to in Revelations 2:1-7. First love. True love. The love that sprang out of a heart that knew there was no way it should ever taste forgiveness even as it overflowed like ice cream on a toddler's chin. True love that caught its breath when the lover's eyes filled its gaze. The days when being called a son of the Living God made me feel like I could do anything. The days when all of this was so much more than just a chant or resitation at the beginning of a prayer, and I could know it with only a thought.
I feel that I have let much of this first love cool. I think I have traded much of its worth for the position it first offered in places of service, like the artist working for the bottom line who wonders where the passion went. This isn't a difficult thing to do, and it can happen in so many different ways.
If you are like me it may cool to an ember. If you are a more choleric person it may manifest in a lot of doing without a lot of loving. Either one is wrong, just look at the letters to the church in Revelations. The real question is how to get to the heart of loving my God once again. The obstacles are all those things that want to get me doing it for the wrong reasons.

Simple Connections

Simple connections tend to be the lifelines that keep us from floundering in the rough patches that following our Leader will run us through. The simple love of those who know us the best. The smiles, and tears of those who have walked this way with us. The ones who will keep moving their feet one in front of the other as they put their arm around our shoulder. Those precious souls who will lift our eyes back to the triumphant Lamb upon His throne, and remind us of the prize for which we strive. In John Bunyan's classic “Pilgram's Progress”, Christian had his companion Faithful to keep his feet falling in the Way. Who have you in this way you find yourself?
It seems that when I survey the narrow way there is only room for a small handful to walk abreast, and in this life there are many I know, but few with whom I have truly traveled, travailed, and prevailed. This in no way diminishes the walk of the others I know, but rather leads me to pray that they will find those ones who will step into the fray and the narrow way with them even as I have.
I write this as a public thanks to the ones I hold responsible for holding me on my journey. I also hope that I have in some way returned their fair graces to me. My thanks yet again are given with honor and respect to Mr. Kerry Donovan who first taught me to walk this way by actually getting me out of the map store and walking it with me. My deep love and thanks also go to my wife who has traversed waters deeper than any other has gone through to remain at my side. She has put her back to mine and raised high the sword to lay into the foes that have beset us, and has always offered her hand when I have tasted the dust.
I write this little post to say thanks, and to remind those of you who pass by here to say your thanks where they are deserved, and to remember to raise your sword and your prayers for those who have set their way beside yours.
Grace and Peace